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These are good problems to have

By Ched Rickman · May 18, 2010

I had been planning on seeing my Almighty Columbus Blue Jackets for several weeks. I had planned everything out with my day job, orchestrated the will call ticket scenario with my rather large group of friends, and had my blue, home, #61 Rick Nash jersey nicely folded and waiting for deployment in the trenches of opposing fandom in the Staples Center in L.A. Then, luck of lucks, I booked a gig that day. Nothing much, just a small time regional commercial for some restaurant chain I thought had gone the way of Fudd Beer, but I figured it was a blessing. I could act, get some bomb-ass on set catering (honestly, the best part of any acting gig), and get out doing the work of a half day, with plenty of time to spare to see my hockey game. No go.

Turns out my 11:30 AM call time was about 5 hours premature. This production was not particularly the worst run production in the history of visual media (that dubious honor goes to a Mase music video I was in several years ago), yet considering I missed a callback for a Union status National commercial by sitting around reading old ESPN Magazines, and my out time was ultimately fifteen minutes after puck drop, I could have at least slept in a little later and showed up at, say, 3 PM, which still would have given me an hour and a half before I had to actually act. Alas, this was not in my fates this day. We finally got through all the shots we needed (I’m convinced my stress surrounding my favorite hockey team affected my performance), but they then had to keep me to record some pick up audio for certain scenes. That’s another ten minutes I had to stay after, followed by a few quick disrobing (and politely re-folding of clothes (because I’m not a douchebag actor)) minutes in the wardrobe bullpen, then five more minutes of watching the 2nd A.D. labor through my copies of the contracts. Finally I was free. Gametime, in downtown L.A.: 7:30 PM. My exit, all the way up by Van Nuys Airport in the Valley: 7:55 PM.

I sprinted to my car in the lot — which was once filled with catering (ZOMG) and transpo trucks but was now deserted because somehow the grip union got out of this production before me — popped my trunk, threw on my regal hockey jersey, hopped in the car, cranked the Rise Against up to 11 and fucking flew down the 101 Ventura/Hollywood freeway. Seriously, I was reckless, unreasonably bold and I’m sure annoying; I was driving with the utter abandon of Jack Traven in Speed, when he’s trying to find the bus before it goes above fifty. I was tailgating, speeding, I think I may have utilized the shoulder at one point. This was the last time all season I would see my team, and I was already missing the entire first period. I finally got downtown, after driving so wildly I was going down a multi-lane one way street the wrong way, found a parking structure for cheap, then ran as crazily as I drove the three or four blocks to the Staples Center, finally plopping down in my seat with more body heat emanating from my shoulders than a nuclear reactor. The first was scoreless; I would go on to see the Blue Jackets dismantle the Godless Kings, a win all around. But as I’m bitching about missing my personal endeavor for my professional one, my buddy leans over to me and says, “Well Ched,…these are good problems to have.”

Indeed. As an actor with even a minuscule amount of success, I tend to bitch and moan about every little thing that doesn’t go my way (maybe that’s why a lot of actors are shitty assholes as well?), and I tend to forget the good things about that little anecdote. I got paid over a week’s worth of money for four hours of acting. And yeah I missed the National Anthem and the pregame hype up video montage, but I still made it down to the game in one piece and ultimately saw a good win. The buzz and thrill of succeeding at this game can cloud one’s mind into thinking they have it hard. Sometimes I need a couple beers and the cool air of a hockey arena and a good friend to remind me otherwise.

Same thing goes for the other day. I got an audition for a Beck’s commercial. A funny one, too. A few minutes later, I get a call from my agency. I, legally, cannot audition for this commercial, since I already booked a Miller Lite a few months ago. I was pissed that I would be missing this opportunity for a great National Union commercial, without ever realizing the reason I couldn’t do it was the countless residual checks that were already flowing in from another National Union spot I had already booked. And filmed. And seen on TV 800,000 times.

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, it’s never enough for an actor. You could win an Oscar and be pulling for a re-peat the following year. But when you miss a hockey game for a gig or an audition because you’re already making money, and at the end of the day, you’re still just a dude trying to survive and make a comfortable living, these are good problems to have.

But what the fuck would I know, I’m just an actor.