The one thing I hear most from other people about my job is,"I don't know how you stay behind that thing all day and never leave." The one thing I hear from most operators is, "You won't believe how many Dolly Grips just leave when the shot's over, and then they come back and I have to explain the next one to them." It's hard to stay there all day. Typically, you go from blocking rehearsal, to discussing the best way to do it, to laying a surface, to rehearsal, to shooting, to tear down, to blocking rehearsal. During the lighting and building phase, your camera buddies get to leave. You are the one guy who never can (except during the three favorite phrases: "Sticks," "High Hat," "Private Rehearsal").
It ain't easy, but this is what separates a lot of real Dolly Grips from the part timers. It can be grueling and tedious and sometimes infuriating but it's all part of it. I don't know how someone can leave all the time and know what's going on. I like being part of the process and making decisions about the best way to do a shot. Once I take myself out of that equation, I'm invariably screwed. Any time I've left and not been there for the discussion and set up, I've had problems with the shot. No matter how good the key grip is, if I'm not there to be in on the process, I've just made things harder for myself and had to redo what was done in my absence.
On dolly intensive days, I usually allow myself two breaks (not counting lunch). I take one in the morning at a slow period (actor discussion, lock offs, waiting on actors) and one in the afternoon. I just pick someone I trust to watch the thing for 10 minutes while I get away. There have been days when I literally never left except for lunch. It's hard, but this leads to the operator, DP, and director trusting you. They know they can count on you to be a calm voice of reason when things are starting to get a little wacko. There's also nothing like that chorus of PA voices shouting your name when they discover you're outside and they need you.
A lot of Key Grips count on you to be their eyes and ears when they're out doing something else too. The DP knows if you can't personally take care of whatever it is he wants done, you'll see that the boys know about it.
So, Stay Put (We always said this in the South, meaning, "stand still". I don't know if they say it anywhere else.)