Me and Little Miss Racine Apple Fair

Anyone in L.A. who works as a background actor or stand-in has to register at Central Casting, which is a real, honest-to-God place despite sounding like “Acme Anvil Company.” It sits in a low-slung gray building under a freeway two blocks down from the Metro park-and-ride in Burbank. It is, without a doubt, the least glamorous place on earth, and it is packed to the rafters with the most beautiful, the most hopeful 18-year-olds from Dubuque to Dodge City. In short, it is every reason to slit your wrists. Not the least of which is their union policy.

I joined an actors union after registering at Central, which meant that instead of just being able to call in and say, “Excuse me, that box next to my name that says union? Could you check that?” I had to drive all the way back to Burbank, which from my house might as well be in Idaho. I had to have all the same paperwork downloaded and filled out that I’d just downloaded and filled out two weeks before.

But hey, it’s cool. I’m flexible.

After leaving my car in the park-and-ride and risking citation and tow because there was nowhere else to leave my car in the entire county, I hoofed it back to the waiting room and sat for half an hour only to be told that their website was out of date and to please fill out these other five pages of forms instead.

But hey, it’s cool. I’m flexible.

Then, after that, they tell me it’s not enough that I brought my union number. I have to bring the e-mail that informed me of the union number even though it’s a one line e-mail that says (and I quote), “Here’s your union number.”

Oh, and I have to somehow become in possession of that printed e-mail in the next 30 minutes because registration only lasts for one hour two days a week. Ha ha!

I’d have to drive all the way home and all the way back the next week. I’d have to fill out the forms AGAIN. I’d have to stand in line and risk a tow and sit next to Miss Racine Apple Fair 2008. And I’d miss out on a week of union pay AGAIN.

But hey, it’s still cool.

I got on the phone and called a pal who lives 15 minutes from Burbank. I called my husband. I coordinated the forwarding of said e-mail to said pal who flew out the door and drove it to me as I stood outside the low-slung building down from the park-and-ride, hopping around and flapping my arms like a rabid chicken.

I ran back in. “I have it! I have it! Here!”

She took it from me. She looked at it. “Ummm…they forgot to type ‘paid’ on this.”


“It doesn’t say ‘paid’.”

“It says they issued me a number. THEY DON’T DO THAT IF YOU DON’T PAY THE DUES!”

“Ummm…I don’t know.”

Then she looked up at me from her little tiny chair as I towered over her desk, out of breath and with an expression that can only be called “pre-unnecessarily violent homicide.”

“You know what?” she said.

Through gritted teeth, “What?”

“I’m just going to go ahead and accept this.”

And that is why I didn’t have to kill her with her own stapler, but just so we’re clear, I absolutely would have. And little Miss Racine Apple Fair, too.