March 12, 2011

Dark Room Hijinx

Several years ago, I worked in the camera department for the Huntington Pennysaver (a local advertisement paper that no one read). I was an off-set camera operator. Our department basically consisted of a camera room, a dark room, and a room of light tables where we would prep the negatives to go to press.

The people in the camera department were the biggest bunch of pranksters that I've ever known. The whole department was constantly out to get each other and always thinking up creative new jokes. Of course, as you can imagine, the dark room was the hot house for hijinx. Being alone in a room with only dim red light can certainly play with one's fears and that fact wasn't lost on this group. One of my coworkers ran a string through the ceiling that went from the light table room to the dark room. He tied a huge, rubber spider to the end of the string and left it dangling above the processor. When someone went to use the processor, he could lower the spider on their head from the next room. The first time that he got me with that one, I nearly had a heart attack. There was another time: work was slow so I took a chair into the dark room and I leaned back to close my eyes for a little while. Someone snuck in while I was nodding off and lit a firecracker under my chair. Heart attack #2. 

Being that we were a professional camera outfit, we could superimpose any photographs together seamlessly. My head ended up on Demi Moore's naked pregnant photograph from the cover of Vanity Fair. I put my boss' head on a shot of Tom Cruise as he danced in his underwear to "Old Time Rock and Roll" in the movie Risky Business. We had a wall of such photographs that we called the "Wall of Fame." 

The coup de grace was the time I hid in the dark room with a hockey mask and a plastic knife waiting for the girl from the night shift. When she came in and was using the processor, I jumped out of the shadows. The moment before she saw me, I heard the plant manager's voice in the next room, but it was too late for me to stop. She looked up and let out a blood-curdling scream that the entire building heard. We though that we would get in big trouble, but I guess the camera department's reputation as pranksters preceded us and the plant manager said nothing. We got a huge chuckle out of that one. Oh, and don't feel too sorry for the girl--this was the same young lady who pulled open the collar of my shirt and dumped a full glass of ice water down my back. I had to run to the bathroom and take the cubes out of my underwear. In hindsight, these jokes may sound a little harsh, but everyone in the department was game. There were never any hard feelings and it was all good-natured.

Today, may your heart feel playful and light. Cheers!

"Even when I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will not be afraid,
for you are close beside me."

~Psalm 23:4