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Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara

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Published by andrewcul2698
Traffic gets really bad on the 101 around Santa Barbara. If you're driving from your parents' place in the Bay Area to your apartment in Los Angeles, it can be hell.
Traffic gets really bad on the 101 around Santa Barbara. If you're driving from your parents' place in the Bay Area to your apartment in Los Angeles, it can be hell.

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Published by: andrewcul2698 on Feb 26, 2010
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02/26/2010

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I was driving on the 101 and coming up on Santa Barbara. I was going towardsLos Angeles and had taken the long way back. My sister’s graduation from law schoolhad brought me back home to the Bay Area where there had been much pomp and pageantry with hor’s d’oeuvres and champagne. I had gone along with everything, half-dead to it. I drank too much at every opportunity, trying not to think about what I woulddo when I got back to LA.The coffee stain was still hot on my pants and there was a pretty bad burn on mythigh. I cursed the cup of coffee I didn’t get to drink, and myself for fooling with myCD’s and not paying attention. I could’ve had a serious rear-end collision so I guess itwas best I slammed on the brakes and scalded myself. Cars were up ahead, stopped. Itwas about four o’clock so it made sense. I looked at the directions beside me, the onesmy mom had written out. They told me how to get to a world-famous Mexican place shehad read about in the New York Times. The exit was just ahead. I slowed down when Igot to the rush hour blockage. I was tired and bleary-eyed.The last couple months I had paid my bills being a movie extra, going on theoccasional audition. But one day, while working on an Adam Sandler movie, I realized Icouldn’t go back. I couldn’t arrive at the set one more day at seven a.m. to stand in theextra wardrobe line and get herded through breakfast. I couldn’t listen to anymore storiesfrom seasoned extras about a Tom Cruise movie they worked on seven years ago. I didn’tcare if Tom was an absolute gentleman. So I didn’t show up for a day of shooting anddidn’t call Central Casting to explain myself. I got about ten phone calls from them, eachwith a heightened tone of seriousness, explaining that there would be “dramaticrepercussions for failing to report to duty.”1
 
Eventually I got a formal letter from Central Casting Incorporated, about the timemy money ran out. It stated that due to my “negligence and failure to report to work, weare informing you that you are banned FOR LIFE from Central Casting.” It went on andon about the high standards of their worldwide organization and how the motion pictureindustry relies on professional individuals to uphold these standards. So I was fired. Ididn’t care much. I think I wanted it, so there would be no way I could ever be an extraagain. Shortly thereafter I was called home for a graduation I had completely forgottenabout.So I got off the freeway and followed the directions up the cutesy downtown areato the restaurant. It was little and unassuming, like most Mexican places are, and therewas a huge line snaking around the block. The parking lot was full so I parked a couple blocks away on the street. I walked up to the restaurant and took a place at the end of theline. All around me were professors and students from UC Santa Barbara, having wittyand erudite conversations. They referenced Wes Anderson movies, the Daily Show,liberal politics, and some crazy party at the Sigma Chi house last week.After about ten minutes I caught sight of the ordering area and saw a “cash only”sign. I checked my wallet even thought I was sure I didn’t have any. I stood there for asecond, feeling stupid. Then I got out of line and walked down the street to find agoddamn ATM. After passing block upon block of auto-body places, bike shops, antiquestores, jewelry shops, and the like, I got to a tiny anonymous convenience store. A fadedsign outside said “ATM.” Inside were racks of candy, beef jerky, a sketchy wine sectionand tons of fridges holding the usual assortment of corn syrup. I went to the ATM2
 
machine in the corner and swiped my card. It blinked and the word “Processing”flickered on the screen. I waited.“It’s broken, chief.”I turned around. The Mexican guy was sitting at the counter watching a Lakersgame on the TV on the wall.“Is there another one around here?”“I don’t know, man.”I went back to the restaurant. The line was even longer. I just didn’t care anymore.I went back to my car and headed back to the freeway. The on-ramp was jammed withcars. I flipped through the radio to find something, but it was mostly rap and
ranchera
music. When I got on the freeway, it was even more crowded than before. Row after rowof shining, glinting steel in the sun. People sitting and waiting, some singing along to theradio, some nursing a cup of coffee, and some full of teenage guys blasting music. Toomany people were going to the same damn place. Then my cell phone rang. It was Dave.“Hey.”“Hey, man. I was just in your neighborhood so I was wondering…”“Oh, I’m still on my way home.”“Oh yeaaaah, I totally forgot. You were going up for some graduation.”“Yeah, my sister graduated from law school.”“How was that?”“Well, it was like a graduation. I don’t know, I was just
there.
Not doinganything. I’m tired of not doing anything.”“I know what you mean.”3

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