By the mid-70's, I needed a steady job to support my endeavor of higher education (and perhaps affording to have money in my pocket for dating purposes, too). Ah...youth. A college education was something my mother pushed for, and I (the surviving oldest) got that obligación. I was at L.A. City College at the time--junior college--see what mediocre high school grades get you. Now, my younger brother (by 1 year and 8 months) on the other hand sought work foremost (and had done so since he finished high school). He always dreamt of having his own business some day. So, he was already working as the senior projectionist at the Huntington Park Warner theater, by the time I arrived there (having bounced betwixt odd part-time jobs, in between classes).
Now, there is always a rivalry between brothers--hey, I didn't write the rules. And it's just the natural order of things that it usually goes against the youngest of a set (age does have it privileges...). So when the tables are turned, it does get to be more than a little galling for the older sibling. Just think how wonderful it is when one's fantasy comes true, and they get to rub that fact into the face of their tormentor since birth. Well, I may not have been that bad, but you get the (payback) picture. My brother got to interview me before passing me onto his boss, the theater owner. If I didn't pass his interview, end of story...do not pass Go, do not collect $200...and no recommendation for hire to the one who pays the wage. Plus, the terms of the employment were clearly laid out by my brother. And hierarchy can be a b*tch.
By this time, the Warner had become an independent theater; Pacific Theatres was the last chain to operate it before this. Normally, theater chains employed union projectionists--most of those went through apprenticeships to reach their skill/pay levels and jobs. Independents, on the other hand, didn't have to hire trained professionals. Anybody they could train, stick in the projector booth without burning down the theater, and pay a fraction of the higher union wages would work just fine for them. And if you entered as the bottom wrung in the non-union projectionist pool, well, let's let Don Pardo list those prizes:
- the last choice for days and hours you get to work - meaning your younger brother, the sr. proj., gets all of the best (his choice); the regular proj. then gets to pick theirs...and you get the leftovers
- you do not get to complain to the sr. proj. about (insert hours, pay, co-workers, equipment failures, etc. here), or you get replaced by another slub looking for steady employment--if he had to work his way up to sr. proj. under those conditions, everyone else would too ("...oh, and by the way, what are you getting mom for her birthday? I'll go halves with ya...")
- new projectionists always work Amateur Night [more about this later]
- "... and don't screw up and make me look bad"
I look back on this now and wonder if all of that was worth it. Ultimately, it was.
To Be Continued...
Next up: The Owner (Part 2)
Next up: The Owner (Part 2)