how to haul props in august in ten steps

OK, its mid-August. New York City is a complete hellhole. Not only is it ridiculously hot, sunny and humid, but the whole place smells like piss and sweat and is full of fat tourists. Of course, I have spent the last 2 weeks hoofing it from one end of the city to the other (and through the outer boroughs) buying props. Lots of them.

Also, its mid-August and, like all theater people at this time of year, I’m broke. Well, more broke than ususal.

So, how to be broke and haul ass up and down the city in 10 or so easy steps:

1. PRECISION STRIKES: When its 95 degrees outside, you can head down to a neighborhood because you think something might be there. Its all about preparation. Go somewhere air conditioned, find the stores you need online and call them to see if they have what you need.

That said, if you’re walking down the street, and you pass something that looks right, BUY IT. Don’t even think about maybe coming back. Just buy it. So you only ever have to walk down that patch of blistering sidewalk once. Believe me, you will have to go back otherwise.

2. KNOW YOUR AIR CONDITIONING: Structure shopping trips around AC stops. Figure on one every 2 hours or so. Theaters you work at are a good option (particularly if they have computers you can use)… but anything will do. I don’t recommend the library, however, because its full of homeless people doing the same thing. Also Macy’s, interestingly. Although I think its probably generally a good rule to avoid Macy’s unless you absolutely have to go.

Broke note on this: this can and should be done for free. Don’t feel like you have to buy something just because you’re enjoying the AC. They’d be burning those fossil fuels anyways. And the massive numbers of airconditioners in the city actually add several degrees to our average daily temperature. So, they owe you.

3. CARRY SUPPLIES: hauling through the city is a hike at the best of times. In the summer, it is hardcore desert backcountry trekking. So prepare accordingly. Particularly if you’re broke. Believe me, nothing is more irritating than paying $2 for water. For example, when I pack for the day I make sure to bring:

  1. water bottle (i have a metal one because they never leak and i think water tastes better coming out of metal)
  2. coffee cup (most theaters have free coffee, so i like to take advantage)
  3. cliff bars (2, usually)
  4. mate (for when theaters run out of coffee… hot water is usually really easy to get)
  5. a sandwich (non perishable, and squishable)
  6. deodorant
  7. baby powder
  8. an extra shirt
  9. long sleeve shirt (for the train and temp regulation in air conditioning)

I know that this seems like a lot of stuff, but 8 hours of shopping is serious business.

Also, part of this is about luggage. I carry a large bike messenger bag with all that stuff (and my paperwork) and two totes inside. Once the totes are full, its time to drop off. Also, keep props and personal stuff separate, and paperwork and wallet (particularly metrocard) easily accessible.

4. WALK WHERE POSSIBLE: This seems counterintuitive, but getting on the train to go a couple of stops is the worst possible thing you can do. The platforms are mercislessly hot and unpleasant, the AC on the train so powerful it will give you pneumonia, and there are so many people crammed in there that its not worth it. Believe me. Walk if you can. Take it slow, wear a hat, but walk. Theres fresh air even if it doesn’t smell like it. Plus, you get the bonus of a tan and some excercise.

important side notes to this include

5: TAKE BREAKS: its ok to stop for 5 mins on the street and drink water. Even if you look like a weirdo. You’re carrying something heavy and you have to do it all day. Plus, this town is full of weirdos.


7: WEAR SOMETHING CUTE: everyone else is, you’ll feel better if you do. Less is more.

8: TAKE LUNCH: Seriously. So few of us do this, but between noon and 2pm it is so hot you can get nothing done. Take an hour. Sit down. Read. But don’t get sleepy. Coffee is vital.

9: MAINTENANCE: Clean out all bags and pockets at the end of the day. Seriously. Its hot, things get gross really fast. No one needs that.

10: DONT BE AFRAID TO SWEAT: Sweat happens. You’re losing water weight and you can shower it all off at the end of the day. This is where baby powder comes in. Take a moment to powder yourself when you get gross. It makes it all better. Everyone is sweaty and you’ll be amazed how fast it disappears..

I guess thats it. happy hunting.


About meredithries

Meredith is a set designer living in Brooklyn, NY. See her work at: This is a repurposed old blog. Because continuity is important. Malaprop is a malapropism
This entry was posted in I don't shop for a living I WORK, props, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to how to haul props in august in ten steps

  1. Pingback: Friday Link-eteria

  2. Jay says:

    I will try and remember rule #7. Keep Bloging!!

  3. Rebecca says:

    This was funny to read, but I absolutely agree with everything! (I actually worked at Macy’s, avoid the shoes and make-up areas. They work on commission and if you hang around they’ll get annoyed. That said, these are also usually the only area’s with chairs….)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s