Blood, Part 2

Part 1

2:15 a.m.

The triage nurse finally got to me after what felt like forever. The only other person in the ER was a old man looking sullen. Two coats tied to a bulging backpack, A napkin in with blood spots and spatter and two hand streaked. I could of been mistaken for one of Hamilton’s homeless.

The decently cute 20 something brunette in blue scrubs and a sweatshirt took down my story. A few minutes later, a older, larger nurse came in and worked on the rest of my paperwork. As she rolls the chair up to the desk, the sullen old man walks in to the room.

“My wife is trying to kill me!” he says, concerned.

“Sit down, Lloyd,” the nurse says. “The doctor will come get you soon.”

“Oh, okay,” he says and shuffles back to his seat.

Wife trying to kill you? I know that feeling, buddy, I thought.

Lloyd became my hero for the night, mostly because he was the only person I saw that wasn’t in the machine of hospital procedure. After the large nurse came waiting in the waiting room, not to be mistaken with the “you’re sick/hurt/dying, take a number” waiting room I was just in. Ten minutes in there and another scrubbed woman took me to a back room.

“The doctor will be with you soon.”

Its an eye exam room.


The head of transport finds me. He says he has a guy on standby to take me back to my car if I’m good to drive home.


I’m passing out in the chair, annoyed and tired. I haven’t eaten in 10 hours or so. I’m sore, my brain is going apeshit, my body is wanting to just slip into sleep. Finally, a doctor looking male walks in to the room. McMaster Medical on his sweater. Med student.

He introduces himself as such. I tell him the story, mention my meds, my work, etc. He looks at nose, sees blood. No shit, doc. Checks ears, breathing. All the fine steps he’s been taught. He tells me that it wasn’t my lungs or any kind of trauma. That the nose sometimes bleeds in cold weather. Mucus dries, cracks and it bleeds. But he’ll check with the actual ER doctor before letting me go.

I don’t know how long it took, but a actual white coated, fully educated doctor finds me. She asks questions again, then goes right to looking into my nose. Within seconds, I hear a “ah” and then she motions her student to look into the device. He nods and backs away. I’m trying not to sneeze with a few inches of plastic on some kind of nose telescope in my nostril with two people who get paid 10x more than I do per day staring down. This is not how I imagined my payday to go.

The doc in the coat tells me that the mix of cold weather, stress and heavy lifting exploded a blood vessel in my nose and sent the torrent of blood down my face. When I sniffed and tried to get it to stop, it went down my throat and irritated my throat which brought up the coughing and the red stuff within. She recommended I not work later that day in Gage Park. 12 hours of outside work in the cold. I agree. I call the 2nd AC and tell him I’m fine and what the doc said. I call transport and they take me to my car. Its over.

6 a.m.

Finally home. My mom is awake. I tell her the story. We talk for an hour or more before I slip into sleep.

After this, a series of phone calls wake me up. Its production office, asking how I am and if I’m coming in. I say my bosses are looking for a replacement for me. I get a call from my bosses, they can’t find anyone yet. I tell this to my mom who says, “Guess you’re going in.”

When you’re mom basically says, “Buck up, motherfucker,” you buck up. Just a nosebleed. I’m running on a collective 4 hours of sleep, but I called in anyway and said I could still make it if they really needed me.

They didn’t. They got a union trained trainee to run around the cold in the middle of the night for 12 hours.

I got a lot of sleep.

The end.


Blood, Part 1


2:30am, Thursday Morning

Done day 3. I get home and sleep.


I wake up from the first full sleep in a week, feeling alright. I shower, shave, get a caffeinated drink and relax until I have to leave.


I arrive at base camp ready to work. The night before the 2nd AC was on an organize rampage. End of night, frayed, I wasn’t happy. So next day I just wanted to get to it and get the day done. Fuck everything else. I do some cleaning of the camera truck and other custodial things before having a coffee and catching the 5-minute van right from camp to set.


Work begins. Back inside the $4 million house perched above Hamilton, the so-called “armpit of Ontario”. From the Escarpment, the city looks strangely beautiful, the exhaust towers and steel mills just specks along the shore of the lake. I like Hamilton, as I like Philadelphia. Cities with character and proud citizens, despite the extreme love or hate. With rainbow of tape on my belt and tools in my pouch, the chaos begins.


Lunch. Chicken stuffed with peppers and feta cheese. Damn good. The 1st AC, the 2nd AC and I talk camera talk. What chips are in different cameras and how to calculate distances for actors, objects and the like. The hardcore tech talk that usually passes right over the head of everyone else. For a short lunch, I re-learned all the specs I had forgotten from my sleepy college courses.

1:00am, Friday Morning

An early leave? Sure. The 1st AC was able to get the equipment truck to ferry our shit first before anyone else. We were closing in on the end of inside shooting and about to move outside. I was taking bags and cases to our pushcarts between takes while making sure my main responsibility, the video monitor for the director, was hooked up and running. Lift, place, return, stop, wait, lift, place, hurry, hurry.


“You guys are so fucking slow”, says the 1st AC.

He’s tired, frustrated. We all are. Its below freezing outside and the small amount of wind makes it colder. Been through it before, Canadian-style, but after all the work and rushing, we’re all ready to call it a day and go home. He barks that his main equipment bag is the wrong way. I didn’t put it there, but I turn it around so it opens inward on the pushcart instead of the outward the 2nd had it. Its a heavy motherfucker, full of everything he needs to keep the lenses in pristine status so he can pull the proper focus. The 1st reorganizes the carts faster than I can load them. The 2nd takes pictures of them to remind himself of the proper system. As I lift, I’m pissed. In my state of mind, the 2nd’s lack of experience is showing. I’ve worked TV and film longer than he has, but I have little experience in his job. We work well together, but when he panics or loses steam, I’m straining to keep his mind afloat and do my job. I swear a “fucking motherfucker” as the black bag is finally turned in the proper direction. I sniff back a runny nose and wipe the excess my bare hand.

“What the fuck?” There’s blood on my hand. A lot. Maybe I hit it and its just a little bleeding. I sniff and continue and wipe again a few moments later. More blood, same amount. Every time I feel it come out and I wipe, there’s blood. I use our lens-safe tissue and create a ball, putting it up my nose and removing it. Its soaked through.

“Are you okay?” asks the 2nd AC. I say yeah, my nose is bleeding. Its nothing. In my head, I’m wondering why. I’ve never had a honest to God nosebleed. There’s been sporting hits, a little blood here and there, but never the amount that was spewing from my right nostril. I sniff it back as much as I can, but it won’t stop. The 2nd gives me some napkins. The box truck shows up and I walk over there, a wad of napkin in my nose. I can keep working, I tell myself. The box truck’s driver has walked off. Fuck. I head back to the pushcarts and cough into my fist.

“Fuck,” There’s blood on my hand. No way. Must of come out of my nose. It’s cool, I tell myself. Inside, the sleeping anxiety that’s been dormant for months and months rears. I feel the tingle and the shaking, but my head is straight. Its fine. It was a little bit. Its from my nose, must of got into the sputum when my head shook. Just keep working. The director calls action on a MOS (without sound) shot and I cough again, harder, into a clean white napkin. Its full of blood, diluted by spit. “Fuck,” I say, loud enough the head lighting tech turns to look at me. My body panics. So does the 2nd AC when I tell him I got to go to the hospital. As I’m being walked down the large front yard by a member of the crew, my friend and the head of camera department says, “Jordan, what’s wrong?” I calmly shout back as I get farther away from him, “I’m coughing blood.” Everyone heard that one, including the famous-in-Canada boyfriend of our lead actress, visiting her this fine night. He’ll know me now, I laugh to myself.

Within a few minutes I’m at the corner of the driveway waiting for a van ride to St. James. I have a co-producer standing next to me. A cute, young looking woman whose eyes are wide and voice full of concern. I tell her it could be just blood that’s gone down my throat from sniffing, but you can’t take chances. She agrees, eyes still wide. The 2nd AC gives me my backpack, which has my Health Card in it, the proof that this run to the ER will be covered by Ontario’s “free” healthcare. The van arrives, the people around me look scared. I’m scared too, but I say everything I can to not worry them or myself. Despite all that could be running through our heads, logic says its something simple, something safe. The probability of the worst case is small, yet its all they’re thinking about.

As I get in the van, they hand me forms. There are always forms to be filled out.

To be continued…

Maximize Your Time

Back to work. Damn it feels good.

I’m back working on movies of the week (MOWs). My boss, the 1st Assistant Camera, is a decade plus veteran, telling stories of how it was in thd old days of union monopoly. The hard asses, the egos and power, telling the 2nd and myself how good we have it in the modern industry. The 1000 yard stare of film.

While the stories are all the same and his insistance of my green-ness in this culture, a teacher need not be 100% every second to give solid advice. The most important thing he has passed on is that you only have so much time.

These shoots are non union, but if they were there would be only a certain set of hours you could work. Being in camera department means looking after a shitload of things. So if I was on a union set, I would only have 12 hours on the dot to do everything from shoot, to organize for tomorrow, for paperwork and everything else. 12 hours goes by fast when the entire day is controlled chaos.

In life, the same goes. There is only so much time to get what you want done. So settle in, train yourself and use every minute you’ve got. Because every minute you waste is another minute closer to regretting what you never did.