Behind the Scenes with Pete

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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Okay, so we checked into our new motel in Cleveland on Monday evening. To be fair, we haven’t had a chance to really experience Cleveland yet and we’re planning on shooting some material for the website and film on Thursday and Friday - so Cleveland, please don’t take this entry personally. Our motel is not exactly in the best part of town even though those damned pictures on made our motel seem like a $30/night resort. Fool me once, Priceline… But it didn’t even take 24 hours to realize that we were potentially doomed here.

It was early Tuesday morning and I hadn’t slept well because I typically don’t sleep well my first night in a new location. My instinct (especially in this case) is to be like Jean Reno in The Professional and sleep sitting up in a chair with one eye open all night long. It wasn’t until early in the morning that I actually began to get some good sleep. That was when my world exploded.

You know those times when you are awoken from a deep sleep so abruptly that you don’t really know if you’re awake or not and all sense of logic is distorted? That was my state of being when the smoke detector in my room inexplicably went off on Tuesday morning. The alarm was so disturbing that I honestly believed an eagle of death was invading my room. I leapt to my feet wearing only my underwear and a pair of grandpa socks. I would think most rational people might clothe themselves, walk outside, and maybe go down to the lobby to discuss the problem with the motel attendant. Not me.

I ran to the smoke detector and ripped it off the wall to see if it was wired to alert the front desk. Alas, it was. Then, sheer panic. My eyes darted around the room because I realized we had set up large production lights the night before to shoot green screens for the documentary. Clearly these lights should not have been used in a motel with electrical sockets that I knew couldn’t handle them.  The lights were unplugged now, sure, but in my mind, the firemen would never believe it - so my internal panic ensued.

Delirious, I made the decision that the best thing to do was to pick up the large lights on stands and find a place to HIDE them. Keep in mind, I truly believed that the entire emergency response force of Cleveland was going to show up at my door any minute. After that plan failed, I decided to eat the bullet. I had to go to the front desk and explain. I thought that my arrest was inevitable.

I put on the first pair of pants and shirt I could find and started ironing them down with my hands (because in my foggy mind, no one would trust a man with wrinkled clothes). I walked out of my door and discovered that the fire alarms on ALL of the walls of the motel were blinking and wailing. In that moment of horror, I thought  the entire hotel would have to be evacuated (because of ME). I walked towards the lobby calmly, still trying to push the wrinkles out of my clothes with my hands, hoping that someone would sympathize.

When I got to the lobby, no one was there except for one man on his laptop in the dining area. With the shrill alarm louder in the lobby than anywhere else in the hotel, I looked at him and asked, “What’s happening?”

“Not sure,” he responded, “happens all the time, though.”

Then, Boom. The front door opened and the girl who should have been running the front desk runs in and yells, “What do I do?! No one ever told me what to do when this happens!”

Then suddenly, I felt relief. I was confused, but now fully awake.

“It happens all the time?” “What do I do?”  Those words played over and over in my mind.

I didn’t do anything wrong – no fire trucks came, no people came out of their rooms - this is simply par for the course in this hotel. 

So if anyone is looking to find a cheap way to have your life threatened for fun, let me know. I’ll be glad to give you the hotel info, but not until we get safely out of here…

Tuesday, January 25, 2011