One of the little-known perks of being a published author: true story.

So we spent a week at the in-laws out in L.A., fine time had by all. Saturday, the day before we're scheduled to fly back, I discover that my wallet's missing--flat gone. We turn the house upside down, search the cars, retrace our steps back to the noodle joint where we'd had lunch (last time I'd taken my wallet out to get at my Visa card), no freaking wallet, nada, zilch, vanished, gonezo, n'existe pas. It's really just a card case--Visa, debit card, faculty ID, insurance cards, driver's license. No driver's license! I'm screwed! How am I going to board a plane at LAX, which has the meanest, most pissed-off TSA crew in the country (outside of Philadelphia, maybe) without a government issued photo ID, which, we're told, we MUST have?

I call Delta--they tell me that yes, I am in fact royally and completely screwed. Good luck getting home, buddy. I try to call TSA: turns out you can't actually call TSA to ask a question—they have a phone number, but you can only use it to apply for a job or report suspicious persons. So my wife and I drive out to LAX a day early to see if we can talk to a TSA supervisor. We actually get to do this--very nice guy named Supervisor Serrano, of the baggage screening department. He says, "They'll take you aside, put you in a booth, ask you some questions to try to prove who you are. They got you in the data base--don't worry about that. It may take a few minutes, but probably they'll let you on the plane. Big brother is watching, right?" This is both reassuring and disturbing, but we go home feeling a bit less stressed about things.

Still, when we get to the airport the next morning, I'm a little apprehensive. What will they ask me? How long will it take? Will the TSA agent be reasonable, or in the more common body-cavity search mode? We check my bag with my wife and kids' stuff, then head upstairs to security. When I get to the podium, we explain what happened--wallet lost, no government-issued ID.

"But," my dazzlingly intelligent wife says, "he does have an unconventional photo ID."

"Okay," the TSA guy at the podium says--he's young, friendly. "Let's see the unconventional photo ID."

I pull a copy of HIGH SEASON out of my briefcase, show him my name and author photo. "That's me," I say.

The TSA guy laughs. "That's a first," he says, initialing my boarding pass. "Have a good flight."

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Comment by Jon Loomis on September 5, 2010 at 2:24pm
Looks like you had to "book" your flight twice. (Thanks... I'll be here all week...
Comment by Benjamin Sobieck on July 13, 2010 at 1:06pm
I wonder what would've happened if you pulled out a knife with your face embellished in the handle. "See, it says, 'To Jon.'"

I had a knife on my key chain one trip. TSA didn't like that. Luckily, the rural Wisconsin "security" wasn't too concerned at 3 in the morning. Let me put in my car.

You're lucky, too, Jon. You really could've been screwed. The situation might've been different had you sneezed.
Comment by I. J. Parker on July 13, 2010 at 8:23am
Hmm, maybe I'll let them put my picture on the books after all. Neat story!
Comment by Jack Getze on July 13, 2010 at 7:26am
See, and your father said being a writer was good for nothing.

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