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."