I’m not going to lie; I’m a bit drained… Here’s a quick run-down on day one.
I spent the majority of day one trying not to lose my sanity. A lot of things happened in between the six hours I was awake and when I finally reached Philadelphia. In case you’re planning on flying soon, and it’s your first time or it’s been a long time, I’m going to tell you something that’s going to help you out immensely. Are you ready? There’s not an airport employee on this entire blue planet that gives two flips that you are a flying virgin. No, really. They don’t care. And by telling them you’re new to this, it only irritates the already (apparently) rushed people.
Once I got on the plane, I couldn’t find my seat. I was supposed to be in 11F, which had been pictured near the front of the plane. Good news there; if the plane crashes, I’ll go out first. I finally mange to sit down in what I thought was a wider seat, only to find out it was the emergency exit. To the right of the little window was a picture guide, giving step-by-step instructions on how to open the door in case there was an emergency. Suddenly, a flight attendant comes by and says, in a voice that tells me she takes her job way too seriously, “Ma’am, you are seated next to the emergency exit of the plane. In the event of an emergency, are you willing and able to operate the exit?”
I shrugged. “Sure.” I was the best one for the job, and knew it. Because if the plane goes down, I won’t open the door. I’ll barrel through it. There’ll be an opening in the exact shape of my body, large enough to everyone to make it through (except for maybe one lady in the back… bless her heart…). People will think a gazelle is loose on the runway.
I saw another sign next to the picture diagram that said “33 lbs.” I was terrified to lean against the exit. We hit 33 pounds a long time ago.
I’m pretty sure I felt that door budge just a hair before lift off. I sat straight back in my chair and did not even breathe to my left for the next two hours.
I planned on using city buses when I got here so I could cut down on the trip costs. Once we landed and I walked the mile it took to get to baggage claim and get my suitcase, I proceeded outside to wait on the bus. After looking at the schedule, I learn that I need bus 37. Problem with that… There’s 37 blue, and 37 purple. I was on 37 blue for five blocks before me or the bus driver realized I was on the wrong bus. I quickly got off and walked back to the airport.
Once I got on the right bus, the driver explains that 37 purple route switches to the 37 blue route. I asked him how a color blind person survives the bus routes. Being completely serious, he said, “The bus doesn’t change color.” Driver wins.
When the next purple bus came by, it came up just as the blue bus was leaving. Not being able to tell which was which, I ask a man standing nearby which bus was blue. He awkwardly points to the direction of the bus – I’m not even sure to which one – and proceeds to tell me, “The blue one is the blue one.”
Of course it is. But, I’m trying to be understanding, because I really need his help. So I explain to him, “I’m colorblind. So I’m not actually sure which is which.” He asks what colors I can’t see. “I can’t see red or green.”
“Oh…” He grabs his shirt and says, “This is red.”
“Thank you, sir. I’m cured.” Okay, I didn’t really say that, but I was thinking it. I’m color blind, not color stupid…
If you can imagine the most hippie place in the world, and then multiply the hip by ten, you’ll be close to the Philadelphia House. It’s one of those places where people hail lava lamps, and Bob Marley is Jesus Christ. It’s set up like a dorm room or a boarding house, with a strict policy of no old people allowed. You slept in a room with three other people (I actually had a room all to myself). You can all then share the living room, bathroom, and kitchen. The bathroom isn’t as bad as it sounds. It’s like a gym locker room, with about four shower stalls and four bathroom stalls. It’s only $20 a night, and geared towards mostly young people and college students. In exchange for such a cheap price, you’re given a task once you sign in, like cleaning the windows or doing dishes, or something. My job was to sweep and mop the upstairs. I also booked through AirBnB, and used a coupon to get $25 off my first trip. So total, my lodging costs for this trip is $15. I’m really beginning to get good at this frugal travelling.
They have a rec room with a few games in it, a pool table, a tv, bookshelf, and – I know it may surprise you – two guitars. And EVERYONE knows how to play guitar. No, nobody liked my Jesus music, but in my experience, hippies are nicer than some church people. They let me play and practice, and even let me test out my audition song for them. (Hello, Adele.)
Also, let it be known that Tiffany is da man. (Em, don’t worry about it…)
But you weren’t interested in any of that, were you? Getting into the convention center was a fine task, and nothing exciting really happened.. Today, it was only the legal overview.
Here’s the good stuff, and why I’m a bit messed up: The contract for America’s Got Talent is 50 pages long. And there’s no double-spacing or big font. Among many of the things listed in the contract, here’s a few highlights:
-They can kill you. That’s not much of an exaggeration. The contract says if death or injury comes to you due to negligence, gross negligence, or WILLFUL negligence, they are free of liability. WILLFUL.
-For the next 12 months, NBC will own your soul. So if they decide to call you up and say, “Hey, we got a reality show, and you’re in,” you have to do it. Otherwise, you are breaking your contract. Also included in that year, you cannot perform publicly (for profit or otherwise), accept other contracts, publish work, mainstream work, or otherwise come out of hiding in any way unless NBC tells you to.
-You have to pass a physical and psychiatric evaluation. Let’s talk about my testimony and my tattoos…
-In addition to those evaluations, they will have access to your medical records (which includes everything from hair transplant surgery to psych wards), criminal history (even from when you were a minor) whether you were found guilty or not, personal history, family history, work history, and credit history. They will know the number of times you’ve farted in your life before you ever go on the show.
-NBC has the right, and will use it, to refuse you any contact with your friends and family, even children, for days or weeks on end.
-They have the right to film and record you doing anything, anywhere. That includes bedrooms, dressing rooms, bathrooms, and any room where “an individual would have a normal expectation of privacy.”
-If NBC decides your story needs a little tweaking… They reserve the right to tweak. That means that they can defame, demoralize, humiliate (the contract used the actual word HUMILIATE), exaggerate, or falsify your life for tv’s sake.
In other words… I have decisions to make. Quickly. And I’m finding myself in the awkward position of not really knowing if I want this more than anything, or if I want to get back on the plane right now and go back to work.