Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Many years ago I worked as a small town disc jockey at a radio station in northern New England. It was a very small station; the studio was smack in the middle of a corn field, and yes, we did the agriculture reports. My shift was from 5:30 to midnight, after which the relief shift came in.
The “relief shift” in this case was a Harley riding, earthy, feminist preacher named Agnes . Agnes was great, certainly not a stereotypical preacher, not your typical feminist and even less a stereotypical Harley rider, since she topped all of about five feet and on a good day 100 pounds. We became good friends, visiting each others homes and having cookouts (in some parts of the country also called barbeques). Agnes had two daughters, one still at home, while the other, Daphne, was in Hollywood trying to break into acting.
It seems things had been going well for Daphne and after a couple minor roles in “B” movies, she had landed a staring role in an upcoming movie. I was treated to updates on Daphne and Hollywood life in general through Agnes.
Then one day when Agnes' Harley roared into the cornfield. She came into the studio and it was plain to see something was wrong. I asked what was the matter, fearing the worst. You could tell she'd been crying and I wasn't sure if I was ready, but hey, she was a friend, and as somebody far wiser than I once said “The only way to have a friend, is to be one”, it was time “to be one”.
But even I wasn't prepared for the answer. Agnes said that Daphne's movie was premiering in Washington D.C, in two weeks and the studio wanted to fly Agnes down for the event, put her up at a five star hotel for the weekend with a limo to take her to and from the premier! Now, I don't know about you but I was having trouble figuring out the problem and said so? Agnes said “I need that weekend off from work and management said I could have it but my job won't be here when I get back and I really need my job!”
I couldn't believe it! How could what seemed a great place to work do such a thing to another employee? I couldn't let it happen; but what could I do? In the food chain I was only one step above Agnes, my demands wouldn't go any further than hers, so I did the only thing I could think of; I said “No problem”!
Gotta admit, I didn't think preachers knew those words! But when I calmed her down enough to listen to me, I explained I would simply pull double shifts for the weekend, she'd be covered, and there wasn't much management could do about it, if I didn't put in for extra pay.
You could see the light go on again in her eyes, and if I never see happy again, I know I saw it that night in that Momma/Preacher lady's eyes. Agnes asked what she could do in return. She wanted to repay me somehow, for what for me, a no brainer. I told her that when she saw her daughter to ask her to personally autograph one of those fancy studio photos for me and then when she got famous I could claim I knew her!
Well, she went and when she came back she brought me a manilla envelope and I can tell you right now that Daphne has a sense of humor! This beautiful young lady and actress, that has since gone on to a fantastic career in the movies and television, sent me an autographed photo that I still have to this very day and will cherish always. The inscription, very simply reads:
Thanks for the wonderful weekend in Washington!
I love the look on people's faces when they read that! Me, I'm a gentleman; so I smile and say nothing!
I'm happy to report that Agnes had a wonderful weekend and shortly after her return, got things in order, and did a lovely refrain of Johnny Paycheck all over management. She decided to move to Hollywood and be closer to her daughter, so she hopped on her Harley and headed out on a cross country trek that we probably all wish we could do at one time or another.
While I was sad to see her go perhaps the way she was treated by management made me look at my future, and while it was probably a year or so later and I didn't hop on a Harley and ride into the sunset, I eventually did pursue other options and moved on to other opportunities.
I never heard from Agnes again but if you've ever seen the picture of the beautiful actress Daphne Zuniga hanging on my wall, with that special dedication, now you know what it really means!