"We should just get the Vader slip-ons and call it a day." These words actually came out of my mouth as I stood, around 530PM Central time, in a Chicago DSW with Taylor, looking over a rack of men's shoes. We were searching for Josh, madly seeking replacement boots.* It was 530 on a Monday, our load-in day. By this point on Mondays, we're long done, load-in down to a science. So why, why had we just spent an hour at a Marshall's followed by this trip downstairs for shoes??? If you guessed UPS had something to do with this little excursion, you'd be spot on.
It occurred to me at some point on Saturday, while still recovering from Friday fun day in Sonoma County, that I had not received my weekly Friday call from my good pals at UPS Freight. While strange and a little annoying that I'd have to wait til Monday to figure out why they had not checked in to let me know the road box was in Chicago, I did not think too terribly of it. My mind was on getting us to the airport by 430AM the next morning to catch our 6AM flight to Salt Lake City and then Chicago.
I arrived in Chicago with broken luggage, having briefly thought I'd left my wallet on the plane and severely sleep deprived from a night of drunk sleep (that Sonoma County wine is goooooood y'all) followed by a night of no sleep. I checked into my AirBnB (after dealing with yet another housing relocation situation! another time, another story) ordered some food, talked to my mom, watched Game 7 (sorry Oakland!) and then promptly passed out. I was still pretty groggy and in between two sets of dreams when I woke this morning. My first call was to UPS. It was Monday, I needed to know where the damn road box was. I found out soon enough.
The road box is still in L.A.. Still sitting on the loading dock of Barnsdall Gallery Theatre where Sam, Taylor and I left it 10 DAYS AGO. Apparently, when UPS Freight comes to pick it up and sees they do not have enough room in their truck - even when you have given them the dimensions - they turn around and shuffle home and DO NOT CONTACT ANYONE ABOUT IT. Never mind that they had my number, the number for the venue manager at Barnsdall and a number for Advocates, the account holder, apparently they saw no reason to tell anyone that their expected freight would not arrive as expected.
Another day on tour, another hilarious set of text messages between me, Tracey and Taylor
I might have screamed into my pillow for a second but then quickly composed myself and did what I do - started emailing, texting and calling as many people as I could.
And thank the theatre gods that be, the team was on fire today. Everyone dove into action. Rachel, back in D.C. at Advocates, got on the phone with the UPS rep, Sam met us at the theatre and started hanging lights and working sound because those are two things we COULD DO without the road box and Ellen, Taylor and I went across the street, had some bagels and hashed out 3 contingency plans and solutions. Recreating the costume plot won out over sending Ellen and Taylor on a crazy overnight trip to L.A. to rescue the wardrobe (at least) and THAT is how the three of us ended up, punch drunk and giddy, at Chicago's finest discount stores this afternoon. Ellen may have purchased a crazy hat and I might have acquired a new pair of sunglasses.
As we were standing in line to check out, we got word from Rachel that UPS would pick up the box tomorrow in L.A., expedite it and have it in Chicago by noon on Wednesday, the day of our show. Having absolutely no faith in UPS at this point, we proceeded with our purchase. Fittings are scheduled tomorrow and the actors already know how to do the show with no set because, for different reasons, we staged sans walls in Denver to great success. We're doing this show on Wednesday. And it will look and sound and feel great because we're unstoppable.
After the show, we get to dump the road box, if it comes. Advocates has concluded that this version of the show will not continue beyond the tour and so, Road Box Number One - the one that moved from Joe's Emporium in D.C. to 7Stages in Atlanta to Stateside Theatre in Austin to Barnsdall Gallery in L.A. and now, hopefully, maybe to Theater Wit in Chicago will be destroyed. Its contents sold and donated, its wood chopped and thrown away. Part of me wants to put it on a pyre and let it float out in Lake Michigan but that's giving it too much reverence. At the very least, I hope I get a moment with the SAWZALL.
It's the first good-bye. The beginning of the end. So long Road Box Number One - you made for some good stories but I'm not sad AT ALL about leaving you behind.
*no Josh, we did not buy you the Vader slip-ons
"In two weeks, you'll never have to say the words 'ROAD BOX' again" - tour BFF Taylor