Dave Smith (Transcript)

Dave Smith, James Avramenko

James Avramenko 00:01
This episode of friendless is presented by the Saskatchewan Podcast Network. My sweet babies welcome back to a brand new episode of friendless with me, your host as always, James Avramenko. Once again back on my endless attempt to end up with no friends on Facebook. This week, I unfriend Dave Smith, scenic painter set designer and all around production whiz. We talk about band versus theater in high school, black box theaters, teaching University during the pandemic, maintaining long distance friendships and the best breakfast. Dave is an absolute gem and you’re gonna love the episode. Be sure to stick around to the end of the show for some news about friendless and its affiliate shows. Ooh. But that is then this is now. So for now, lay back. Enjoy my interview, Dave Smith here on Friendless. So this week, I have a dear friend of mine from back in my my lunchbox days when I was first the let’s see, I was the audience services. And then I became box office manager. And my my good friend Dave Smith was always sitting in the back room, just feet up eating the sandwich probably stealing a bag of chips, and just telling me what to do even though he wasn’t my boss.

Dave Smith 01:42
I like how you just completely diminished everything I did at lunch box to basically that I mean, you’re not wrong. But yeah, maybe maybe you just never saw me actually working.

James Avramenko 01:54
It was rare. It was hard. Well, you know what, you know why, though? It’s because when you were working, it was always behind closed doors, right? Because you would be in the theater. Because you were the the scenic, or what was the exact title?

Dave Smith 02:07
My I started as technical director, my first year there, but then when you were there, I was the production and Operations Manager.

James Avramenko 02:14
Right. Okay. And so like, because lunchbox is such a small team. You were like, basically, I mean, not to diminish what JP contributed. But like, in a lot of ways you are kind of one man Team A lot of the time and so often I’d be at the box office and you just hear music blaring and and then you know, I poked my head in and you just be like mad sciencing stuff right?

Dave Smith 02:38
Now, that was kind of my mo the loud music in the theater was it was definitely a statement that I would make.

James Avramenko 02:44
You’re like today I’m doing I’m making bricks. Something wild like that. I’d be like, Well, those are flats david so I’m not sure how you’re gonna do that. Yeah, so So, um, something I always find really interesting is that, you know, obviously we have our sort of pocket relationship that that we’ll we’ll get to throughout the conversation in terms of you know, being coworkers at lunchbox but I’m always fascinated fascinated to hear let’s say the end of the story is and then one day I was in my office feed up eating a stolen bag of chips. And this this skinny beautiful bespeckled man came in and said and now I work here so if that’s the end of the story, yeah, what what gets you two working at lunchbox? Like do you have a long history in theater? Or is it sort of a mishmash? What what kind of got you into that that that world?

Dave Smith 03:47
I mean how far back do you want me to go like I was born in high level Alberta

James Avramenko 03:53
wherever you feel like that story needs to start

Dave Smith 03:57
Oh, okay. Ah, drama never interested me until junior high. When I was growing up, I didn’t think anything of it and then I think it’s really funny that my career path changed because I heard that the drama teacher was good looking. I’m being honest man, we were we were picking our options going into junior high and one of my friends was like Yeah, we did the open house and the the drama teacher is really cute. And I was like, cool. Teachers are always fun especially in a small town where there’s like not a lot of teachers as it is so I started in drama and then like was instantly a convert. I I did drama every year in junior high in high school. I did band and drama I played the trombone for three years in junior high and then when it came to high school, I could only do band or drama. There was only room in my schedule for one and band had to get kicked to the curb because I couldn’t give up drama. So, I always had this idea that I was going to be a teacher and probably a drama teacher because my mom was a teacher, my grandma was a teacher, my great grandma was a teacher, you know, just blah, blah, blah, I kind of fell into line right there. And I liked the idea of teaching. And so, um, so when I went when I applied to university, I always figured that I would just end up going into into, like, education. Well, when I got to university, I still had these ideas that I was going to be an actor, because that’s what I did in junior high in high school. Like I, I had no idea that technical theater was even a thing you could get paid to do, right? Because we had, we did two shows a year. And like the lights just kind of happened in the set just kind of happened. And I mean, they weren’t big sets. They were just kind of pillars or something, right?

James Avramenko 04:21
Good lord David. Mm hmm. I feel like I feel like in my junior high plays, it was always just, we’re just we had to set every play in the same setting, because it was the backdrop we had, right. So we just sure we always had to figure out how to make our play be set in a field. It was just where we had to be,

Dave Smith 06:10
that’s fair. Yeah. I mean, I remember we did Cinderella and we had just like, a few columns. And that was our set. Right? And, and, you know, I think we had mirrors roll on and off or something like that. But the lighting, I had no idea that you could like, we just had whatever lights were up in the theater. And so we use those and, and, you know, for our little class projects and stuff. And then apparently we had actual lighting, you know, one of the teachers came in and designed lights for us for our actual show. But so it never, it never occurred to me that this is something you could actually be a professional at doing. So when I got to university, I was like, I’m gonna be the best actor this world has ever seen. That was a real, like, small or big fish in a small pond mentality. Yeah. And it got there. And there was some phenomenal actors who were in the in the department who were significantly better than I was. So that was, that was a humbling experience.

James Avramenko 07:06
Yeah, yeah. And always, that would always hurt still. Yeah.

Dave Smith 07:09
Yeah. So I was like, Okay, well, I mean, I auditioned for drama. But for subsequent acting classes, and I didn’t do very well and, and so I got into technical theater, because the everybody in the first year had to take a technical theater course. And part of that was doing hands on work, like loading in sets, or hanging lights or being wardrobe crew or something like that. And I ended up hanging, hanging focusing lights for production, and he fell in love with it. Like, I realized that I had kind of a knack for it. And, you know, I didn’t mind working at height in the idea of like, working the wrench and everything. And it all made perfect sense in my brain. And so I kind of shifted gears and started taking design classes, instead, still thinking that I would be in education. Well, then, after my third year of university, I went to New Hampshire with a professor of mine, to help them paint a ballet down there. And while we were there, he started putting the idea in my head about grad school, and he’s like, I’m gonna retire soon. But if you stay, if you do grad school, right after you finish your undergrad, I will stick around and I will wait until you’re done before I retire. Okay, so that’s a pretty and like this guy like he, he, I mean, he worked in the States, he was born in the states and work down there for years. I think he taught at Northwestern University for a while.

James Avramenko 08:32
That’s an incredible opportunity. That’s a once in a lifetime, like you, you kind of can’t say no to that.

Dave Smith 08:37
That’s exactly it. And so,so I finished my my undergrad in December of 2006. And in January 2007, jumped right into grad school.

James Avramenko 08:47

Dave Smith 08:48
But it was kind of around this time that you know, even in my third or fourth year where I was like, I don’t know, if I want to be a teacher anymore. I just want to, to design. This is way more interesting to me. And so I started designing somewhat professionally and just doing as much as I could at the university and outside the university wherever I could just to get to get experience. And then I started grad school and then then I just started freelancing when I got through grad school. And so then, you know, I was with grad school, I started teaching and I realized that I actually really do enjoy the teaching aspect just from more of a post secondary institution and not I don’t want to teach shithead Junior High’s like I was

James Avramenko 09:31
so super fair, right?

Dave Smith 09:34
Yeah, so a lot of the work I was doing was, was to get experienced so that I felt comfortable applying for for post secondary teaching positions. But it got to a point so in 2012, I got my first gig out in theater Northwest up in Prince George. And so I worked with Samantha MacDonald who ended up the artistic producer at lunchbox. Yeah. So I we became really, really good friends my first time out there and then the second time I went up there in 2014, I ended up staying at her house. Now at this point, I was pretty burnt out on theater. I was getting some design work, but not a lot I was getting. I was working at kind of a shitty theater job. I didn’t like my I didn’t like my boss. I didn’t like my my situation. So I was I was looking for other work, but I wasn’t looking for other work. Simply in theater, I was just looking to make a change in my life.

James Avramenko 10:32

Dave Smith 10:34
And then I was doing this while I was in Samantha’s kitchen up in Prince George, I was just looking for jobs. And so she kind of knew that I wasn’t happy. And then, four months later, she ended up getting the job as the artist or sorry, as the production manager and lunchboxes, she needed a technical director. So she hired me to to do that job. And then when she became the associate artistic producer, then I got promoted to production manager, right. And then one day, I was sitting in the office with my feet up on the desk, eating a stolen bag of chips, this lovely, beautiful space to bespeckled man came in and said while I work here now

James Avramenko 11:13
And that man was Liam Volke. Bless, that’s fantastic. I, you know, I’m, you know, so coming into the sort of the lunchbox world I, you know, I, I can’t help it feel but like the, the lunchbox system and the sort of the lunchbox ecosystem. For me, for my money, it’s the best version of theater. I because it’s so it’s flexible. We have where that you you can have small shows or you can have like, relatively speaking for Canadian theatre, at least large large cast, you know, you can have a half dozen or even upwards of you know, eight nine and, and really comfortably do it. You know, I still think one of the best pieces of theatre ever saw there was the was the wonderful life you know, it’s life was Yeah, that show as incredible. But, but yeah, it’s you know, it’s a it was such a beautiful little pocket of time that I count myself so lucky to have been able to to be a part of you know, and and so when you so when you’re there you ended up sort of you were not relatively speaking there that long. Because you know, when I came in I was only that I was there probably just under two years. And you you had already gone off to to teach in Lethbridge. So what kind of what kind of got you into that

Dave Smith 12:38
into teaching?

James Avramenko 12:39
Yeah, cuz, you know, you speak about, like, wanting to teach, and then suddenly you’ve got this opportunity to?

Dave Smith 12:44
Yeah, um, so I mean, just to your first point. I wasn’t there a whole long time. But that is kind of the beauty of lunchbox. Nobody ever spends their entire career at lunch box. It’s definitely like a lily pad for a frog to jump on. Right. And

James Avramenko 13:04
What a great description for that.

Dave Smith 13:06
Thank you. Yeah, like I just think about my the people who follow me like Sarah, who, who got that job for a year or two years and then moved on. And I think she’s, she’s working with Calgary opera right now. And, and like, it’s just it’s such a great place to get some professional experience, make a bunch of great contacts, and then and then move on to bigger and better things. And I don’t think anybody at lunchbox resents it because nobody’s a lifer. Right? No. So it’s it’s, it was a great place and such a nurturing environment. But when you when you decided it was time to move on, there was nothing but well wishes for for you because it was just such a comfortable place to be but you know, and so and, you know, the team that we had was incredible, and everybody just nothing but but the best for everybody else,

James Avramenko 13:57
right? Yeah. Oh my god, I cried. I cried when I had to quit. I was I was so upset. I will and it was just like, I mean, I was also like, terrified because I was like, moving to Saskatoon. Sure. What the fuck the fuck have you done to my life? But I just I was so upset and I was like, and I just like I you know, yeah, it just that was a that was a rough morning.

Dave Smith 14:16
Yeah, yeah, literally yesterday, I was cleaning up the office and came across the farewell card that Samantha McDonald wrote for me as I embarked on to this new adventure and like, even on you know, three and a half years later, it just got me like, it’s such a it’s such a personal note that she wrote to me which just broke my heart. But, you know, there was no animosity and it was just nothing but like, I just I can’t believe this is the end but is it the end and like Anyway, it was just, it was beautiful. And so you know, I I think about my time at lunch box very fondly.

James Avramenko 14:50
I still remember because you know, there was that there was that, that wall of quotes, and I was always so jealous because I never made it on the board and I was always like it funny too. Why am I not on the board? And then finally, I finally made it on by you’ll love this. I don’t know if you know this or not, but we were at my like, sort of like Farewell, you know, farewell drinks after a shift. And I did this thing I sort of I sort of ambushed everybody with this thing because I had everyone, like go around as as they were, as they each said something I had each of them say something nice to me. And, and then and then I and then I said, Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, you know, now you say something that you said. And then I went around and I said something just like devastatingly nice to each of them. Because they were all sort of like, okay, James, you arrogant fuck, you know? Yeah, I was like, really nice. But, but to Sarah. I said, I’m so glad Dave quit. Because without that, I would have never worked there. Right. Sure. And and and that that one went right up on the wall and I was very proud of that.

Dave Smith 16:02
Oh, I love it. That’s fantastic. Yeah. But

James Avramenko 16:07
so you’re now so So what exactly are you teaching now in Lethbridge? It’s u of L. Right?

Dave Smith 16:12
It is the University of Lethbridge. Yeah. Um, I mean, I got hired as the the scenic design instructor. But I kind of teach all things technical theater. So this semester, I’m teaching a stage and production management class.

James Avramenko 16:28
So how is it? Like how was it with you know, the fact that the world’s ending and treating nobody’s treating it like it’s the world’s fucking ending?

Dave Smith 16:40
This is the last podcast that you’ll ever record. Um, it’s every time somebody asks how it’s going, I my answer becomes more and more negative.

James Avramenko 16:53

Dave Smith 16:54
Like, it’s not that and now just I fucking hate it, man. I mean, I understand why we’re doing it. And, you know, from a health standpoint, I don’t mind not having my lungs which are already fucked up enough. By I don’t mind not the possibility of not sorry, let me retract that. I don’t mind that protective aspect that comes with me not being on campus every day.

James Avramenko 17:19

Dave Smith 17:20
Um, so from that aspect, I feel I feel okay with it. But like, I’m just so much better in the classroom. And, and theater is such a tactile thing, even if it’s, even if it’s stage management and production management. these are these are hands on things that you’re doing. And so trying to teach people how to be a production manager or a stage manager over the internet is really frustrating.

James Avramenko 17:44
That’s something I can’t imagine is like, not only like, because obviously there needs to be health restrictions. That’s no, nobody’s arguing against that. It’s just that at the end of the day, I can’t see it being a benefit to the students to continue studying. Like, I can’t help but wonder if it should just be on hiatus for the time being because you it doesn’t feel like you can provide the service that’s deserved, especially for like, the amount of money that these kids are putting in, you know, like, it’s just not I just don’t see it as fair.

Dave Smith 18:13
Yeah, I think I think that universities are encountering encountering that right now, James, I think, yeah, a lot of people have taken a year off, because Yeah, why the hell would they come back to school and pay money to sit and look at a computer?

James Avramenko 18:26
Get a Skillshare account? Right? Yeah, like fuck it, right?

Dave Smith 18:30
Um, I think a lot of students, especially in theater, I talked to at least one who is doing no theater classes this year, and is doing all her electives, because it’s easier to do the electives like, you know, you can do math and English and stuff like that online. It’s just it’s not as if you’d still rather be in the classroom. But it’s, it’s more doable than theater. Right? Like, you know, I, I feel really bad for my a couple of girls in my stage management class, who are who stage managed our production this semester, but it was an online production. So How the hell do you stage manage an online production? Right. And so

James Avramenko 19:04
God with the delay for for calling a queue? Oh, my God.

Dave Smith 19:09
Yeah. So I’m not sure like, I don’t know. I actually didn’t have a chance to see it because it the live shows on Saturday, and I was, I was hoping to get home for the show. And then definitely didn’t get home until like 10 o’clock that night, because I was up in Calgary for the afternoon. And I was like, that did not work the way I wanted to. So I missed the show. But it was cool, because they actually did. They like everybody. It was basically a zoom webinars how they did the show. And there were people all over Canada. Like one of the one of the performers in it lived up in our lives up in Yellowknife.

James Avramenko 19:43
Oh, yeah.

Dave Smith 19:44
And so Casey was able to do it from her home in Yellowknife. And so like a lot of it was more like I’m not I think mag was more kind of taking care of the notes and stuff and we actually had a zoom operator. But, you know, as far as cues go, there weren’t a lot because you know, there’s There’s nothing there’s nothing preset. Right? So she might have told Nicole to go from one to the other. But that was kind of the extent of it. So I’m not sure I’m not sure exactly how it went, I heard that I went, you know, the show it pretty successfully, but I’m just not entirely sure how it how it actually happened. So, right.

James Avramenko 20:19
Well, another thing to to keep in mind and i and i have to check myself all the time with it is that it’s like, it’s not, it’s not that it’s worse. It’s just that it’s different. Right. And that’s the thing that we’re getting used to is that it’s not, it’s not what we traditionally perceive to be what we want from theater, right. It’s this whole other experience. And, and, and I do think that there’s a lot of very hidden hidden benefits in it, like you say about, it’s, it’s suddenly reaching, like, why would you just keep your piece of theater regional when you can have an international if you want? Yeah, like, you know, the the Great Barrier of theater in general is that it is inherently regional, right. And, and so many people get caught up in this thought that, like, if I’m really popular in Calgary theatre, then I must be popular in Toronto. And it’s like, No, nobody knows who the fuck you are. The moment you leave your city, nobody knows who the fuck you are even like very, very popular, very, very successful people. Nobody knows who the fuck you are. I don’t care. I don’t care what it is, you know, and that’s fine. That’s not a complaint. It’s just the truth. And so yeah, so so we now that we’re applying digital to it, it’s suddenly it’s you’re reaching a different audience, and you’re reaching an audience that wants to interact with the digital media. And so that’s really exciting. Yeah,

Dave Smith 21:29
yeah, I can think of a few actors who have come, you know, who have done enough work in Calgary who are from Toronto that, you know, they might have a little bit more infamy in the regional theater areas, but at the same time, like, they’re still not a household name. They’re a household name to people who go to theater. They’re not a household name to, to everybody in Calgary.

James Avramenko 21:49
Exactly. It’s a widely it’s a wildly different thing. And I don’t mean that to be bolting on it. No, no, no, it’s just I think it’s a caveat that we need to internalize better, because I think that people especially like developing artists, I think get it in their head that they’re going to be celebrities through theatre, and it’s like, No, no, if you if you want to be famous, cool, that’s fine, go be famous, but like, go be on YouTube, or like, do movies or like, go do something else. Like, there is no fame in theater. No, you know, and so, so you gotta get get out of that that mentality, right? Yeah. Um, so, you know, as I say, often on the show, is a real, a real sort of quandary for me, in my grand in my whole life has been, you know, the question of, how have I been a good friend? And, and how do I figure that out? How do I get to the bottom of what have I done? That’s good, what have I done that’s caused harm and, and so I feel like what’s important, at the very root of it, is to figure out what it is to be a friend. And, and it’s so fascinating, because everybody has at times similar and yet wildly different definitions of it. So I’m always curious to hear how you define friendship.

Dave Smith 23:13
You know, when you sent me these questions, like a week and a half ago, I read them that day, and I i’ve been mulling them over and I haven’t actually written anything down because, you know, I don’t I don’t want to read off a script. But like, it’s such a it’s such a hard thing. Yeah. To consider because, like, I would, I would consider you a friend like we’ve got a you know, a four year history and and you know, we we haven’t you know, we realized we haven’t spoken in a long time, like actually spoken but like we still keep in keep tabs on each other and and so then then I started thinking like, have I been a good friend to James or like, friendship is so interesting because you can be friends with the person and then just things fizzle and things and things fade out. Right and, and you know, I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I think that’s a life thing. I think that that you know, you have friends based on situation like I think about the the friends that that I had in elementary school and junior high in high school, and I keep in touch with two of them. Three of that. Yeah. One one I started keeping in touch with recently because he was living in Lethbridge when I moved down here, so he kind of rekindle the friendship, but like,

James Avramenko 24:31
Oh, beautiful.

Dave Smith 24:32
Yeah. Um, but like, and it’s not to say I didn’t I didn’t appreciate those people that I grew up with. It’s just, they were my friends at that time of my life. But, you know, you move on and as a How old are you? When are you born? Like 88?

James Avramenko 24:48
87 I’m 33 What am I now I’m 33.

Dave Smith 24:52
30 something. But Yeah. Um, as a 30 as a 33 year old is a 37 year old. I mean, Do you feel like how many good close friends can you have without feeling like you’re overwhelmed and I, I don’t think that sounds make me sound bad because I feel like I’m overwhelmed with friendship, but it’s like, I can’t maintain a friendship with everybody I was friends with, because that’s a lot of work. And I feel bad saying

James Avramenko 25:21
that what that’s I mean, that’s really the heart of the show is that like, I would love to be the friend, I wish I could be everybody I wish I could be a friend to right. But it’s just not possible. And so to take care of, it’s this weird thing of like, it’s like, it’s, it’s like, it’s not reverse psychology, but it’s the same sort of like, it’s the idea of like, it’s the idea of like, you know, if I want to do this, I actually have to do the opposite of it in order to protect myself and to take care of myself, in order to be a good friend to as many people as I can I actually have to pull back from being a friend.

Dave Smith 25:53

James Avramenko 25:55
And it’s not to say, we’re now enemies, it’s short to say, I don’t have the space to give what I’d like to give. And so, so when I can, I will and when I can’t, I won’t. Right,

Dave Smith 26:06
agreed. And I think that’s, and I think that’s what it comes down to. And, you know, I think about one of my best friends I we were on the same floor in, in university in our first year of university, like she lived down another hallway, but like she and I, we had a close group of friends and you know, that that friendship group has kind of gone by the wayside. You know, I I still keep in contact with a couple of them. But Megan, and I, you know, she’s still one of my favorite people, she came to my wedding last summer or last fall. And I hadn’t seen her other than when we dropped off her wedding invitation. in like two or three years, and she lived like when I lived in Calgary, she literally lived a five minute walk away from me. But she had three kids. And she’s you know, she’s a marketing manager for a company or something like that. And like, she has a busy life, and I had a busy life. But there was no offense to the fact that, that we didn’t see each other all the time because we both were living our own lives. But when we saw each other It was like no time had passed. Yeah. And so to me, I think I think a true good friend is somebody who, when you talk to them, you you enjoy that time. And you know, you can you can laugh and you can you can reminisce about the good times and times that passed. And you can talk about things that you’re doing that that they might not be privy to, but there’s also no hard feelings when you don’t hear from that person in a year. Because Because you understand there is that understanding that I can’t text you every day, but you’re still kind of dear to me. So I don’t know if that like that is that is to me a sign of a really good friend who is somebody who who roots for you, but doesn’t doesn’t take offense when you know you’re not you’re not talking to them all the time. Okay, this one could be pretty quick. What is the best breakfast?

James Avramenko 28:14
I love this question! Honestly this is my favorite part of the show is just hearing what people come up with because it’s so unique and it’s so telling to each person. What is the best breakfast?

Dave Smith 28:25
I mean, like we’re going to a breakfast place and you’re going to order something what what would you typically order?

James Avramenko 28:31
So I’ll tell you this if I’m going to a restaurant I’m probably not ordering breakfast because breakfast food is so easy to make that it feels like a cop out to order it. Okay. I always like I’d always rather order something that I couldn’t make at home. Okay, so it’s really hard for me to justify ordering breakfast food. Except for I guess the exception would be like eggs benedict was Yeah, okay. Great because like it’s a pain in the ass to make Hollandaise sauce. So especially good like edible Hollandaise sauce. Yeah. So I guess I would say some elaborate Eggs Benedict. Or the other thing I would say is there was a restaurant in Victoria called Floyd’s which I don’t know if I think has closed down since but it was like as a staple of my time there and they had a thing called the Mahoney where you would you wouldn’t know what it was. They would just it would be I think it was like 20 bucks but it was like it was like massive. And they they bring it to you you’d order it it was just it was it would be whatever the chef decided they were going to cook for you that day. And and then at the end you could either pay or you could do like a double or nothing. So you could flip for a coin and either pay nothing for your breakfast or you’d pay double and but it was always worth it because it was always like it was a huge like you would get like three meals out of one strike

Dave Smith 29:58
Like skip scramble from Arrested Development.

James Avramenko 30:01
Like actually though, like, it was massive. And, and, and so yeah, so if I had to choose one breakfast food would be the Mahoney. Which is so like region specific. It’s like

Dave Smith 30:17
nobody else listening to this is like I don’t but everybody. Victoria’s like hell yeah, right, right.

James Avramenko 30:22
Yeah, fuck you east coast. wellness, however you define it is achievable. You don’t even need to figure it all out yourself. Talk to connexus. They’ll give you guidance, motivation, and the push, you need to reach your goals. They’ve got you. They’re your financial partner. And they know you can achieve your very best, your financial best. prove them right. start right at connexus credit union. So so this is always a fun question. I love this question so much. And I think you’ll have a fun one. Or at least you better have a fun one. What is your most vivid memory of our friendship?

Dave Smith 31:12
See, like, this was the one I was most interested to talk about. Because actually, like, when, when when you signed me on to do this, I kind of went through our friendship on our Facebook, because it will be the last time and I was looking at all of our random wall posts. And I just like, there’s kind of a sense, like, It’s bittersweet because I know why we’re doing this. And you know, I’m totally down with it. But like, it’s fun to look at a friendship and like ours was so random was just like, like I posted once about like, all I put was like a like so and so is the most underrated character, and it was a Friday Night Lights reference. And I think you just put like, buddy, that’s all you responded with. And like, to me, there’s something so telling about that. But I was looking back to see when we became friends and stuff like that just to kind of answer some of your questions. But we had some great times in lunchbox but they all kind of blur together, if that makes any sense. Like, I can’t think of one example of you coming in and saying my sweet Baboo in. Right. But honestly, what am I one of the most vivid memories I have from our friendship was I would say two weeks after we became like after your first shift or second shift to lunchbox. And it was the day you quit at ATP. Because I was downtown. I don’t know if I was working or if I was I just happened to be downtown and you were sitting outside the Calgary tower complex on just on a bench and I was like hey man, and like sat down beside and you’re like I just quit at ATP. And then we just sat and chatted for like, 20 minutes outside about nothing like just about the most inane shit, but I was like, Okay, this guy and I like we, we clearly get along because, like, the conversation was just so easy. And I just remember like, I don’t know why, why that one sticks out. But I just like, I think you were just I don’t know, if you were lost or just like kind of Holy shit. I just quit. But like, you were just kind of sitting there. Like, you’re almost directionless at the time, I guess. Yeah. And we just sat and shot the shit for a couple hours or for like, half an hour.

James Avramenko 33:21
That’s so funny because I had sort of forgotten about that moment until you mentioned it and then suddenly I’m like, Oh, yeah, I remember that. Because I had it had been a very it had been a really brutal like, I I sometimes I equate. I mean Fuck, if bosses are going to get to say we’re like a family at work, then I’m going to get to equate it to a bad breakup. Which I think which I think is all really bad language but it’s the best language I’ve got right now. You know, your work is not your family don’t stop saying that everyone whoever’s listening to this stop saying your work is your family. But but but but but yeah, it was it was a really really toxic not because like like I worked for, for Sophie, Sophie Clark, who was my at the time I was the assistant front of house and she was my friend. And she’s phenomenal but I had really bad experience with somebody just above her and so so just in case anybody’s like oh, no, it’s like no, she was the best but but I just I had really I just really bad experiences with with that sort of middle management level. And it sucked and it sucked because I loved that job and I loved the experience. I love front of house I love you know, I was I was so lucky to fall into the audience services that lunchbox because I love that stuff. I love meeting people I love greeting everybody you know it’s it’s, I love the kind of job where you can you can it’s sort of the same task every day but it’s always with somebody new so it’s always a little different. So I thrive in like as menial as it is It’s why I kind of thrive in retail because it’s like you’ve got the the end goal is the same but the how you get there is a little bit different right you know, and

Dave Smith 34:59
I worked at lush for Three months, one summer. Yeah, it was like the best job I’ve ever had. Because there was no pressure and like, just, you know, at the risk of sounding boastful, I’m a fairly congenial person. And, and it was just so like, I just come in and just be my normal, pleasant self and just talk to customers. I loved it. Yeah. So I totally understand what you’re talking about.

James Avramenko 35:19
Yeah, yeah. And so it just yeah, it hurt it hurt to quit that job. And then, but I knew I had to. And so I remember, I remember, you know, because it had been, it was sort of a series of conversations and a sort of a series of things. And, and I think what had happened that day, because that was when I like, went into like, sign my, my, you know, my the final paperwork. Sure. You know, and, and so, I was sitting there and just being like, Oh, fuck, now what? Yeah, you know, and, and, and I was actually so grateful that I that of all people, because it’s like one of those. It’s one of those excuse me, it’s, it’s one of those magic moments where I was sitting, sort of wondering what to do and and then you came out of the crowd and it was such a I mean, you know, it is one of those sort of kismetic moments of life. Because within months I’ve been working at lunchbox regularly, you know, so it’s just, it was a very calming moment. Yeah, right. I’m actually very grateful for it. Yeah, yeah, I

Dave Smith 36:17
I wouldn’t say I’m often a calming presence to people.

James Avramenko 36:27
So you know, you’re you’re, you’re in you’re in Lethbridge, I’m in Saskatoon. somehow we’re talking thanks to the miracles of technology. And, you know, we’ve alluded to it before about sort of what is friendship, but I’m really curious to hear what your thoughts are on what it’s going to take to continue being a good friend into 2021.

Dave Smith 36:49
I mean, I don’t know when you started writing this question, whether it was pre pandemic, or post pandemic, but like, the world is just so fucked up right now. And, and it’s just so hard to be a friend to anybody. Other than through a phone or through a screen? Right? Like, you know, right now, I’m not sure what the regulations are in, in, in Saskatchewan. But you know, at this moment,

James Avramenko 37:15
Not strick enough.

Dave Smith 37:16
Yeah, exactly. We’re not we’re not in lockdown, but we goddamn well, should be. Anyway.Um, you know, we’re but no social gatherings of any sort. Unless you go to a fucking church, I guess. But I know. I’m not getting into the politics. I’m angry enough about politics, we’ll just move on from that. But, um, but because of just the niche that we’re in, you know, I find on sending a lot more text messages. And it might just be like, Hey, how’s it going? been thinking about you today? Just hope you’re doing well. And sometimes, that’s all it takes. And to be honest, like since I moved down here, that’s been a lot of the way I’ve maintained friendships is because, you know, I can’t go and see my good friends up in Calgary for a drink. Right? And so You know, I’ve had to spend a lot of time just texting and just being like, Hey, man, how’s it going? Right? Hey, how’s like just thinking about you today? I hope you’re doing well. I might be up in Calgary in a couple weeks. If I am. Can we go for coffee? Right? Yeah, like and and then like, I was up in Calgary the summer doing some house renovations with my brother in law. And and I said, like, I text a couple friends and like, I’m in Calgary. Let’s try and get a time to get together. And then we ended up I worked 14 hour days. And by the time we got home, I was exhausted. I was like, well, I can’t I can’t tonight and so then it just turned into not meeting up but like, making that effort to just like, you know, sometimes I’ll just scroll through my contacts on my phone be like, okay, I haven’t talked to this person a long time. Okay, I’m gonna send them a message today.

James Avramenko 38:42
That’s such a good idea. I think that that’s such a, something I’ve been trying really hard to pull out of these, these this question, the series of questions, like, what are some actionable things because I think that I know, for me, I’m not going to speak for anybody else. For me personally, it’s a very overwhelming question to to say be a good friend. Right? But if instead you say, Well, today, I’ll send a nice text message like that’s something that’s like actionable and and palatable, right. Like it’s something that I can process. Yeah. Because it’s a it’s just it’s a bite. It’s not a it’s not a whole pie. Exactly. Yeah. And I love that I love that that that idea of like find somebody you haven’t texted in a while and text them something nice right? Yeah.

Dave Smith 39:28
Because there’s people who live at the top of my you know, on the on my top 10 messages on my my I guess my text messages they’re all the same people right because I keep in contact with regularly but then it’s the ones who are further down. Right You know, you go to the to the end of your your because I I hardly ever delete my text messages.

James Avramenko 39:47
terrible job. I don’t. Yeah, I love it. I actually, I gotta say, I wish more people kept their text messages because I find them to be fascinating, right? You like you look back a couple years and it’s like, it’s like it’s like an extra I have a different language.

Dave Smith 40:01
Absolutely. And so like, and you know, I keep them because sometimes somebody will send me a funny picture. I’m like, Oh, fuck, where’s that picture, especially like people I’m in regular contact with. And it’s just like, it’s nice to see that, that evolution of that friendship, right. So I, you know, unless I finally have a phone with a decent enough room, but like, unless I’m running out of memory, and I have to get rid of some stuff. I never delete my text messages. But yeah, I totally agree. It’s just nice. Like, it’s nice to be able to do that. But sometimes there’s people at the bottom of that screen is like, man, I haven’t texted that person since literally 2017 time to fire them a text messages, put them at the top of that text pile.

James Avramenko 40:37
Yeah, I wish I had a well, not not I wish, I’m going to work on having better competence with that, because that’s something that really, I really admire that, that confidence in being able and being comfortable to do that, because it’s something that I struggle with, right? I’ve talked often on the show about like, I I really struggle with, like social anxieties, and I really struggle with a lot of like, you know, I’m sure there’s like a lot of ingrained shame in any number of things and all this kind of stuff. And, you know, I mean, fuck, right, but, but, but I really admire the bravery it takes to be friendly to people, right? Because I often tell myself, what, you know, you might want to be nice, but they don’t give a shit. Right? You know, they don’t, they don’t want to hear from you. They’ve got better things to do. Right? And so, you know, but it’s like, it’s really, it’s really no skin off your back to be nice. You know? Like, it’s, it’s, it’s no, because the worst case scenario is somebody who doesn’t answer you, right? Which case, you’re nowhere worse off, because that’s literally what’s been happening already. Exactly. Yeah. So you might as well just try and be nice,

Dave Smith 41:39
but at the same time, like, when I’m, when I’m sitting here, and all of a sudden, like, I’ll get a text message from somebody who I’m like, Whoa, this person just sent me a text message what, like, you know, a friend of mine from way back, we just kind of started texting and like, we chat on the phone recently, because, you know, we hadn’t talked in three or four years. And, you know, we were really close for a long time, and then had a little bit of a falling out. And, you know, you know, we’ve both grown up and, and so, you know, we’ve just seeing this person’s name pop up on my phone was so pleasant, right? And you know, just to if you’re just sitting there, and you know, I’m not expecting a text from James, and all of a sudden you send me a message like, Hey, man, just checking in, you know, how you doing? Like, there’s something kind of nice about that. And like you said, If I don’t respond, then, you know, and it might not have been because I’m assholes. Just like, but like, at least Yeah, like, What is it? What is affecting your life? If I don’t respond, but if I do, then it’s like, okay, that’s really cool. It’s just, it’s, it’s, yeah,

James Avramenko 42:42
I love it. Man. Dave, we could fucking you know,

Dave Smith 42:46
God this could be the longest podcast of your career.

James Avramenko 42:49
exactly, exactly I hate to do this, because it’s like, I genuinely like, I just, I appreciate you so much. And I just like I’m so I’m so I’m, like, I’m, I’m so thankful that we met and I’m just like, I, I you know, I joke. I joke that I’m really glad you quit. So that I got to meet Sarah. But I also am really glad that Liam quit, so that I got to meet you, you know, like it? Yeah. It was a it was a it’s a it’s a time in my life that I’m endlessly grateful for. Yeah, I just like, I just think the world of you, man.

Dave Smith 43:21
I echo those sentiments. And I just think it’s so funny. Like, you know, there’s some people when you first meet them, and it’s like, Okay, well, let’s just kind of try and figure things out. And you know, see how we get along with this person. And then there’s the people is just like, well, we’re friends. And we were, we were definitely the latter. I don’t remember what we talked about the first day that you work there, but you We sat in the office and we chat I think about books and like probably wrestling and like just the most inane shit, but it was just like, it was so easy and, and, you know, it’s been three and a half years since we’ve spoken. Because, you know, life and you know, but we here we are, we it’s been an hour and three that we’ve been recording and, you know, even more because we chatted for 10 minutes before that, but like it’s just it’s so easy with you.

James Avramenko 44:12
Yep, and right back atcha you know, unfortunately, we got one last thing we got to do for the show. So here we go. I’m pulling up your Facebook. David Smith. We are no longer Facebook friends.

Dave Smith 44:27
God damn it. I don’t even get a notification. It’s just like it’s gone. You’re just not a part of my Facebook life anymore, which is not a bad thing. Fuck Facebook’s

James Avramenko 44:35
Just dust in the wind man. And that’s it. Thank you once more to my sweet Baboo Dave, I love you and I miss you and I really hope we can catch up sooner rather than later. I am making a concerted effort to be more proactive as a friend this year. So look out world, Jimmy’s sending some unprompted texts. Probably We’ll see. If you liked the show, let your friends know. Give the show five stars on Apple podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts. And be sure to share the links tell all your friends about Friendless, what a great show it is, and how it’s so much better than whatever crap they waste their time listening to. Speaking of wasting time, as was previously announced, raised by the movies, the podcast where my wife Jennica and I revisit old movies from our past and discuss how they helped contribute to the maladjusted waste case you see before you, is just about ready to launch. We’re just in the process of doing final edits on the first batch of episodes and we’re hoping to have them ready to launch sometime hopefully in February. So peel those peepers for all that goodness coming your way. Don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter. It’s just a once a month update with article suggestions, book reviews, and exclusive writing straight to your inbox. Sign up in the link in the show notes or just go to friendlesspod.com. Scroll down to the little signup box. You won’t regret it, I promise. And really, even if you do, what’s one more regret on the pile of this here life? Huh? You got bigger things to keep you up at night? Like that dumb thing you said at that party 10 years ago? Everyone remembers. No, they don’t. That’s dumb. Be nice to yourself. Goddamnit. Anyway, that’s it for me. Have yourselves a wonderful week and I will see you next time. Be sure to be nice to yourself and even nicer to someone else. And I’ll see you soon. Fun and safety y’all

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