Azure Jane Lunatic (azurelunatic) wrote,
Azure Jane Lunatic

No Pain, No Gain: my (first!) Mythbusters volunteer experience

So perhaps I have not mentioned that I volunteered to be a test subject for a Mythbusters myth? And "No Pain, No Gain" has aired in the US, so I can give my details now! They had a (quite reasonable) gag order on spoilers, and I decided to err on the side of safety, plus my netbook died, taking my draft entry with it.

They had a call out on Twitter for volunteers.

I fit in the woman over 18 who has never had children demographic (they were also asking for women who had given birth to children w/o epidural, men, and redheads, all over 18; one of the first thoughts included "What, a Redheaded League myth?") so I emailed in. I was among the people who did so in time to be signed up, and fit the criterion of general good health.

The presence of "without epidural" and redheads suggested to me that pain was going to be involved, since apparently redheads burn through anaesthesia faster than people of other hair colors. The paperwork they sent mentioned that there was a chance of "discomfort", and if we had a problem, we had to tell them immediately. And they told us to be prepared to get Cold And Wet.

Later... "[#MBMole] Half a tonne of ice just arrived on set. This afternoon is going to be messy"

I got the address programmed into my GPS, and headed on down, calling MissKat and Amber to go OMG SQUEE about the whole thing. My power had gone off, hilariously, prompting me to call MissKat to get the address and help me draw a map. I'm weird -- I will actually draw a map, rather than making a turn list, if it's an area that I know I'm going to get lost in and/or wander around.

I showed up. It was starting to rain. I found parking, and headed off. I knocked at the door. Someone let me in and showed me upstairs. There were already people there. I got myself checked in, and perched on one of the folding chairs.

The inside of the studio is amazing. It is a museum of props and interesting things, in addition to being their way cool studio. There was Adam's spacesuit, and what looked like Umbrella Corporation umbrellas. There was a TV, playing an episode. There was a friendly black lab wandering about wagging at people (she turned out to be Jamie's dog, Zero). Only the fact that I'd poked around and the M5 Industries website says that all employees come through the production company, and if you want to work there, you have to go through the production company, kept me from disgracing myself. Fabulous place.

I was in a total mental whiteout of bliss and squee. I was actually in M5. I was really really there. I texted my best friend to advise him of this. His response was slightly cranky, given that he doesn't like getting text messages (from anyone, and since he knows I know this, not from me either). Inside, I was bouncing and singing and making an awful fool of myself. I had a rather blank and pleasant expression plastered on my face, and while I was acting rather like a stiffly-programmed robot, at least I wasn't shrieking and asking for autographs and offering unspecified personal favors. I counted that as a win.

JD had mentioned, the night before, that his friend kageneko was to be there. I inquired of the people who were there whether any of them were her, but no. (She came in later.)

I wound up getting up to wander around, and just sort of hung out standing in the corner. I tried to dodge out of the way of people taking pictures. (There is, as a result, a photo of part of me framing Adam's spacesuit.) There was a life-size cardboard cutout of Adam. There was a room, the size of a good-sized bathroom, larger than my apartment's tiny bathroom, covered in whiteboards. One of them had a calendar with what appeared to be a shooting schedule. I saw that today's date involved shooting for something called "No Pain, No Gain". My assumption that pain was involved was probably correct, then!

They started screening people. We had private interviews with the show's medic, a fellow named Sanjay. (He showed up in the episode, very briefly, and I was happy, because he was generally awesome.) I was in general good health, but wasn't pain-free: at that point in time I was suffering from a Bejeweled addiction, and it was making my RSI flare up from time to time. And since they'd mentioned cold and wet, and I'd seen the tweet about ice, and the women who had given birth without epidural were mentioned, I also added the fact about that incident in '98.

See, in '98, I was an impulsive young idiot, and when one of my friends left her all-important leash-to-her-mother pager behind at a party (the fact that she was being picked up by her mother didn't register), I ran out after the departing vehicle with the pager in hand, feet bare. This was winter in Fairbanks, Alaska. I realized, shortly thereafter, that I'd made a bad mistake, when my feet started to go numb. I didn't lose any toes, but I did lose the entire callus layer on the bottoms of my feet -- it blistered and fell off, quite entertainingly. It is the most overwhelmingly painful thing I have ever felt. I don't remember the pain; my memories of that physical sensation are mercifully blocked. I remember that it hurt very badly. I still have a bit of sensitivity to temperature with those poor nerves. (People always ask me if I was drinking. That's one of those tough questions to answer, because the actual answer and the question they mean are different. Yes, I had consumed alcohol that evening. No, the alcohol was not a factor in my stupid decision -- it was less than a tablespoonful, and it was well before the incident.)

Sanjay the Medic let me know that I'd screened out, and gave me an orange sticker for my badge, assuring me that no-one would give me any guff. I emerged, and lined up with the screened people. We orange-stickered folks looked at each other and offered comfort.

They called for the next orange-stickered person to head down the stairs, and that was me. I was slower on the stairs than I might have wanted, given the cane and the weak state of my knees. Adam and Jamie were waiting downstairs. I barely gave a glance to the green-gridded background, which was perhaps a critical oversight -- that was the apparatus! I shook Adam's hand, then turned and offered my hand to Jamie. He seemed surprised, but realized Oh, handshake and also shook my hand. The assistant with the camera took our picture, and then I was ushered out of the room, into the room with the T-shirts laid out.

All the T-shirts were black. My size was not available, so I guessed at my best friend's size. T-shirt in hand, off I went into the drizzly San Francisco morning. I called Amber back, and (I think) Kat, and then I headed in to the courthouse for more #prop8 funtimes, full steam ahead.

And then Adam confirmed what they were doing:
Doing pain threshold testing all day here at the shop. 85 test subjects so far! The results are pretty awesome so far. Results get better by the minute.
Then, disaster:
No more tweeting from me because our test subjects are READING TWITTER! You guys ruined it for everyone. Calm down everyone. Just no more tweeting about today's experiments. I'm sticking around.

Then they sprung it on the build team. Grant was apprehensive. And isolated. And cursing a blue streak.

Later this morning, I will head off to be part of another large crowd of Mythbusters volunteers. I do not anticipate that I will get exploded, trampled, stung by bees, crawled on by tarantulas, or anything like that, but you never know. (Actually, I'm very pleased by their general care for the well-being of their volunteers, which is why I'm volunteering again.)

Crossposted. comment count unavailable comments.

Comments for this post were disabled by the author