Lee Wochner: Writer. Director. Writing instructor. Thinker about things.


Last night’s minor accomplishment

July 1st, 2020

Last night, playing “The Last of Us Part 2,” I had only 3 bullets and no health packs left, but was able to take out 5 paramilitary, 3 runners and 2 clickers. Pretty good, right?!?!?! Went to bed pretty proud of myself.

These days, we’ll take these accomplishments where we can get them.

Carl Reiner, R.I.P.

June 30th, 2020

The obit just now in the New York Times for Carl Reiner details his many, many talents:  screenwriter, novelist, director, actor, comedian, political commentator, and probably a lot more.

What they don’t mention is what a great host Reiner could be.

As I wrote about here twelve years ago, I went to the memorial service for a guy I knew and liked, my writing professor Bill Idelson, only to discover that Carl Reiner would be the “emcee.” (Or whatever one calls someone who officiates a memorial service.) Of course it made sense in retrospect — Bill had been one of the writers on “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” in addition to playing Herman Glimpsher, Rose Marie’s diminutive suitor on that show. (In an odd coincidence, about 20 years ago, I produced a play that featured Seemah Wilder, never realizing until he showed up that she was Bill Idelson’s wife. Yet another case of “everybody knows everybody.”) I wrote about Bill’s (highly entertaining) memorial service here.

In the years since, I’ve been following Carl Reiner on Twitter; he’s been amusing at times, and certainly life-affirming (he’s got a new book coming out, posthumously now, completed at age 98), and certainly livid about the current occupant of the White House.

But now I’m left wondering:  Who will they get to host Carl Reiner’s memorial service? Who could possibly live up to that standard? The only other Renaissance entertainer I can think of is Steve Martin.

Today’s awful insight

June 29th, 2020

If Trump drops out, we run the risk of Pence winning and the Dems losing the Senate.

If Trump stays in, we run the risk that he actually wins.

This is like the worst episode ever of “Deal or No Deal.”

Joe Sinnott, R.I.P.

June 25th, 2020

I was sad to learn this morning that Joe Sinnott had died. He was 93, and that’s a reasonable amount of time for anyone, but he touched my young life and left a lasting impression, not just as the premier inker on “Fantastic Four,” but also in my one personal encounter with him.

When I was 11, I met both Jack Kirby and Joe Sinnott at the same table at Phil Seuling’s comics convention in NYC. I told that story near the bottom of this longish blog post three years ago, and how awed I was to meet Kirby — and how very kind Mr. Sinnott was to me. 

This was one of the most meaningful encounters of my life — the only time in my life I’ve been awed in anyone’s presence, matched with a moment of incredible kindness and attentiveness from his artistic partner. These guys were heroes to the men my age who were boys back then.

Later, I’ll update this post with the sketch Mr. Sinnott did for me.

Snappy answers to a stupid question

June 16th, 2020

Just now, I said to my wife, “Okay, I’ve got a call tomorrow night at 6, then we can do the grocery shopping.”

Her:  “What do we need to do the grocery shopping for?”

She starts to list all the food we have. At some point, I break in with, “We’re out of bread.”

She asks, “What are you going to use bread for?”

And that’s when I channel Mad magazine‘s “Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions.” It’s just hard to undo all that adolescent training.

  • “What was I going to use bread for? Oh, make a sculpture.”
  • “Fill my gas tank with it.”
  • “Patch a hole in the wall.”
  • “Attach strings and wear it as a mask.”

Finally, laughing, she says, “Okay, okay, that’s not what I meant. I mean, what do you need it for?”

I look at her crosseyed, because that’s the same question.

Finally, I explain to her that, yes, I am a bread eater. I admit it — I am someone who eats bread. She has somehow missed this over the past three decades, but it’s true and there’s no use hiding it. I am a consumer of bread.

Not only that, I eat bread in many different ways. Sometimes I will toast it and then put a spread on it of, say, butter or preserves — or both! Other times I will stick meat and/or cheese between two pieces of it, and may add mustard or some other condiment. I have been known to slide bread under an egg and eat it that way. Occasionally I will even stick bread into the oven with butter and garlic powder atop it, bake it for a little while, and then eat it that way. I’m sure there are many more ways that I eat bread.

“Okay,” she says. “We can go grocery shopping if you want to.”

“I don’t want to,” I say. “But we’re out of some things — including the bread.”

And then she tells me what else I could have instead of the bread. Evidently, we’re well-stocked on bread substitutes. Like, somehow, rice counts.

Praise and gratitude

June 15th, 2020
Every day, the Academy of American Poets will email you a “poem of the day” if you sign up for it. They run the gamut from the 19th to 21st centuries, and from the well-known to the never-heard-of. I found today’s, by Angelo Geter, particularly resonant — because it’s about gratitude and praise.
I also appreciated what he said about it, because this is where I am as well:
“I wrote this poem about six months ago, around Christmas time. I was in the midst of mourning and grieving some loved ones. When I was walking, I remember feeling that in the midst of hard times and as negative as this world can seem at times, you still have to praise things. So this poem focuses on praising the things you should praise, and also praising the things you shouldn’t, such as being a headstone or not being in a police report. So that was the inspiration behind this poem. Praising in the midst of all this chaos.”        —Angelo Geter
Here’s the poem.


Today I will praise.

I will praise the sun

For showering its light

On this darkened vessel.

I will praise its shine.

Praise the way it wraps

My skin in ultraviolet ultimatums

Demanding to be seen.

I will lift my hands in adoration

Of how something so bright

Could be so heavy.

I will praise the ground

That did not make feast of these bones.

Praise the casket

That did not become a shelter for flesh.

Praise the bullets

That called in sick to work.

Praise the trigger

That went on vacation.

Praise the chalk

That did not outline a body today.

Praise the body

For still being a body

And not a headstone.

Praise the body,

For being a body and not a police report

Praise the body

For being a body and not a memory

No one wants to forget.

Praise the memories.

Praise the laughs and smiles

You thought had been evicted from your jawline

Praise the eyes

For seeing and still believing.

For being blinded from faith

But never losing their vision

Praise the visions.

Praise the prophets

Who don’t profit off of those visions.

Praise the heart

For housing this living room of emotions

Praise the trophy that is my name

Praise the gift that is my name.

Praise the name that is my name

Which no one can plagiarize or gentrify

Praise the praise.

How the throat sounds like a choir.

The harmony in your tongue lifts

Into a song of adoration.

Praise yourself

For being able to praise.

For waking up,

When you had every reason not to.


Angelo Geter

Buying stuff in person

June 6th, 2020

What with the lockdown and everything, I’ve been feeding my comic-book habit the past three months via eBay. As package after package of moldering old comic books has arrived at my house, I have reassured my wife that, yes, every one of these packages has included incredibly good investments that would continue to accrue in value throughout my life and be worth a pot of gold after I was gone. Then I’ve run upstairs with them to quickly extract the comic books and read them.

Today I drove past my local comics shop and discovered — they were open! So I promptly went inside (enmasked), seized upon my longstanding order of new comics that awaited me, and spent an hour picking through six boxes of old comics on offer at the outrageously low and somewhat unjust price of only one dollar each. When I was done, I hefted 124 of those up to the counter along with my new comics, and dropped about $165 at the comics shop.

How refreshing to buy things like this in person! And while observing curve-flattening pandemic precautions. The store had the fashionable plexiglass shield protecting me from the cashier and me from him, and I did my best to circumvent the other five shoppers allowed in the store at the same time. (At one point, a gentleman brought an actual child into the comics shop, which I believe put us at the illicit number of seven people. Or maybe 6.5, given that the kid was small. But someone left almost immediately.)

The previous night, I had gone and gotten a haircut. Yes, a haircut. It had been 10 weeks since my last haircut; at this point, the only way to get the hair off my face and behind my ears was to plaster it down, and also to disguise the effect by growing a distracting full beard. My wife had offered repeatedly to cut my hair, but I begged off, confronted daily with the evidence of the haircut she’d given our teenage son. I had texted my favorite barber, a young man named Danny who somehow seems to have studied barbering in the 1950s, given that his shop plays Rat Pack music and that he will offer you a beer while you’re getting your hair cut. Last time I was there, I spotted actual, real, old comic books in the reading pile, just like when I was a kid in the late 1960s. When I texted Danny to see if he had reopened, his texted reply squealed like a little girl:  “Lee! Yes I’m cutting hair again! Just started back up on Tuesday. What day and time would you like to come in???” This was the sound of someone eager to cut hair, and to book actual revenue for the first time since Q1. On my visit I discovered that some things had changed — the waiting area was now roped off; I was robed with a plastic sheet that was disposed of when we were done; and I wasn’t offered a beer now because I had to wear a mask during the entire procedure — but when I saw myself in the mirror I actually looked like myself again, and tipped Danny forty bucks atop a thirty-dollar haircut.

“You want any change?” he said, looking at it.

“Nope!” I said, still marveling over my miraculous transformation from the prehistoric figure of only 30 minutes earlier. The effect was like the shock ending of a “Twilight Zone” episode.

After lugging all those comic books to my car in a very large two-handled bag that Leland the comics clerk had found under the counter, I drove over to All About Poke about a mile away. This represented the first time since March that I hadn’t eaten a lunch made from my stores at home. (Other than that time I hunched on the curb at the local supermarket like a derelict and ate out of a bag.) I ordered a medium poke bowl with a base of half brown rice, half salad, with edamame, krab meat, octopus, spicy tuna, albacore, carrot shreds, cucumber slices, green onion, cherry tomatoes, and masago, dressed in a sauce of yuzu ponzu and mustard shoyu, and topped with sesame seeds and furikake. Yum yum yum. I eagerly paid my $14, tipped a couple bucks more, and headed for my office to enjoy that while checking the mail and printing out a script I’m reading for a playwright.

While eating, I reflected on all the glorious errands I was now able to do, now that reopening was underway and so long as we retain precautions. I had even dropped off my dry cleaning. Boy, was that guy happy to see me. An immigrant from, as far as I can tell, seven different Middle Eastern countries that he once named for me upon request, he had just moved his operation to this new location, and then watched his business plummet when it was shuttered. I couldn’t imagine his anxiety level. It had been months since I’d seen him — but what dry cleaning could I have had? Since March, I’d had exactly zero in-person meetings. It had taken three months to generate four shirts that required his laundry service because I don’t do ironing, and one that needed stain removal because I was clumsy with lunch one day. It wasn’t much, but when I handed it over, his eyes glimmered with hope.

After lunch, and still filled with the excitement of crossing off all those to-do’s taunting me, I texted my wife and suggested that I swing by and pick her up to do the grocery shopping. The supermarket was having a sale on a number of things we buy, plus I’d been stockpiling coupons. She agreed, so I swooped in, judiciously hid my monster comic-book haul upstairs while she wasn’t looking, and picked up the coupons and her and also the list we’d prepared. I work my grocery list like a maniac, carefully planning what I’m going to buy, and just where the discount comes from; I have codes for coupon (cleverly, “c”) or newspaper (“p,” for “paper”), or digital coupon (“d,” but I may be giving too much away now) to help ensure that I get all the appropriate discounts. Then I watch for those in-store specials, and I also use my son’s employee fob, which gets us another 10% off a whole host of things. As an example, the flavored seltzer water that I like, normally $3.99 a 12-pack, was on sale for $2.77 a 12-pack (“p”), which, when added with my $1.25 coupon (“c”) made it a tremendous bargain. Meanwhile, my wife wanted the seltzer water she prefers, which was by comparison something like thousands of dollars for a few scattered skinny cans, so I reminded her of how diligently we need to feed our retirement plan. “Oh, like those comic books,” she said, which unfortunately required me to remind her again that those are investments, while there is no lasting return on overpriced seltzer water.  By the time we checked out, we’d purchased what the register tape showed to be over $300 in groceries for about $230, and then my coupons brought it down to $188. I also made sure to get my gas-mileage points, which can reduce the cost of a fill-up by as much as $1 a gallon.

We made one last stop, to the local liquor store. I picked up a bottle of malbec for me, and a bottle of chardonnay for her, and a sixer of stout for the two of us. Yes, our supermarket sells alcohol, but we like to support the corner liquor store. We’ve grown to know David, who owns it, and his staff, and we like them all, and we like that they feed treats to our dogs when we bring them by. I also wanted to cash in a winning lottery ticket. “I’ve won a million dollars!” I proudly exclaimed, hoisting my Loteria ticket aloft. With a skeptical look, David ran the card across a laser scanner and revealed that I’d won five bucks. The tab for the alcohol was $38, so he wanted to know how I was going to pay. I pulled out a credit card for our purchases on the counter, and said, “But I want the five bucks in cash.”

And that’s how, when I got home from providing $478 in service to the local economy, I came to have five dollars in my wallet.

Signs of the times

May 3rd, 2020

Because there are no events, no plays, no concerts, no open bars, and therefore nowhere to drive to, my walks all around town continue.

Yesterday evening, I walked to our local supermarket, Ralphs (yes, again), this time to pick up the most important staple:  coffee. Yes, we still had mediocre coffee (the kind my wife drinks:  that stuff that comes in the jumbo red plastic tub), but I drink my coffee black, so I like it to be actual coffee. Imagine my dismay upon waking up and discovering that the real coffee, the kind I buy and brew, was gone. Turns out that my 17-year-old discovered there’s a difference. “Hey!” he said later, when I asked him about it, “your coffee is better!” So now I’ll be buying twice as much of it, I guess.

So, I decided to walk to Ralphs. My wife proceeded to write up an entire shopping list.

“I’m walking,” I said, after looking at it. The last time I told her I was walking to Ralphs, which is a mile away, she asked me to bring back two 12-pound hams. This time she had a list that ran the length of the paper, and included things we didn’t even need, like toilet paper.

“We have a case of toilet paper,” I said. I know, because it’s sitting unopened on the landing leading to the upstairs bedrooms.

“Just in case,” she said.

She also wanted two bottles of hazelnut creamer, kalamata olives (okay — those were for me), maybe a roast, and other things I couldn’t imagine carrying home in my arms in the dark for a mile.

“I can’t carry all this.”

“Okay,” she said. “Then just one bottle of creamer. Just get the one. Do you want a backpack?”

My plan was similar to the one described here:  Visit to the ATM across from Ralphs to get cash, use that cash at the cigar shop in that strip mall so I’d have plenty of cigars for the week — and especially for the exciting cross-country virtual cigar party my friend Doug was going to host tonight! — and then go over to Ralphs, make a deposit at the other bank’s ATM in there, and buy coffee. Coffee and, I guess, whatever else I could carry. My wife outfitted me with a black backpack usually reserved for hiking. Now I really felt like an apocalyptic wanderer stocking up on provisions. At Ralphs I got two boxes of salad, one bottle of creamer, a jar of olives, two bags of good coffee, a bag of chips that were free because I had a coupon, and a couple of other things. I slipped them into the backpack and headed back home.

One thing I’ve noticed in these pandemic perambulations  around my neighborhood is colorful chalk messages written on sidewalks. Some appear written by children, some by adults. Sometimes they are words of encouragement, like “hang in there” or “we’re all in this together.” (I’ve seen each of those.) Last night, I came across this one:


At first, I wondered if we’d had a visit from my friend Joe, who lives in Atlantic City and who in my 37 years of friendship with him has always been known to say, “Oh, yay!” But Joe would never leave out the “Oh,” and certainly never the exclamation mark. Still, it made me think of him, so I texted him the photo and he happily made it his cover photo on Facebook.

Other messages are demanding. Tonight, while walking my dogs in a different direction, I came across this:

Yes, it reads “Put YouR Phone DOWN.” For the record, my phone was down, and in my pocket — that is, until I came across this and took a photo of it.

Signs like these are all over town. They are our time’s version of the hobo signs left to advise other drifters in the 1930s that the house behind this walkway had a nice lady who would feed you, or would offer work, or had a vicious dog to avoid.

When I got home last night finally with the groceries, I checked my phone to see how much I’d walked that day. I had walked to my office in the morning to conduct my playwriting workshop (virtually, of course), then walked back, then took the dogs for a long walk, then, as I said, walked a mile to Ralphs and then a mile back — and all of that added up to 10,369 steps.

“I just cleared ten thousand steps today,” I told my wife. “We’re always told that we’re supposed to walk ten thousand steps a day — but this is crazy! Who has time for this?” Leaving aside the fact that I average eight miles a day of walking every year at Comic-Con. But that’s Comic-Con! Have I said how much I miss the gym? I miss the gym. I can burn twice as many calories, and more enjoyably, and there’s a sauna, a steam room, and a jacuzzi. And then I drive home.

My wife was eyeing me as I pulled the meager groceries out of the backpack. “It’s like the London Blitz,” she said, watching as I produced two bags of coffee. “Ye got any chocolates in there? Nylons?”

I could’ve bought those at the supermarket — but I couldn’t have bought a single cleaning product. The entire aisle had been stripped bare — again. Anything that might kill germs or disinfect in any way was nowhere available.

Which is definitely another sign of the times.

Positive indicators

April 26th, 2020

On Friday, after weeks of calling and leaving messages, I finally reached my friend Ken on the phone. Ken is 92 and I was relieved to hear him come to the phone after his son answered.

Ken left the CIA long ago, but seems to be re-immersing himself in spycraft. He told me that from now on, I should call, ring twice, hang up, then call again — and only then would he pick up.

“Too many robocalls,” he explained.

It seemed to me that one would need to know the code in advance, but at least I do now.

Ken was born in 1928, so after ensuring that he’s doing fine, I was eager to hear his thoughts about growing up in the Great Depression, and of course his economic forecast:  Are we heading into Great Depression 2? Forewarned is forearmed. But first, I had to hear about ice hockey, of course (Ken was part of a championship ice-hockey team in high school), and how skating on ice for eight or ten hours a day in his teens has kept him so rugged in his 90s, and also about baseball this time.

“My father taught me to be a left-handed batter,” he said.

This came as a surprise.  “Are you left-handed?” I asked. I’ve known Ken for almost 15 years and hadn’t noticed.

“No. But when you’re a left-handed batter you can see better when the ball comes toward you. So my father taught me to bat left-handed. A lot of redheads are left-handed.”

I didn’t know this, and haven’t Googled it.

He went on. “My father was red-haired and left-handed.”

That sounded like the beginning of a Mark Twain story I hadn’t read.  I wasn’t sure where any of this was going, so I asked him what it was like growing up in the Great Depression.

“I didn’t realize it was the Great Depression. My father was never out of work. He was a printing pressman, and his company took the hard printing jobs:  textbooks. So he had a job all through the Depression.”

One thing he did notice was that his parochial school would serve meals for kids who didn’t get a meal at home. When there’s a depression, he said, “You realize more of the process of eating. Where food comes from, how it got there. [In normal times] when you go downtown to a restaurant, you don’t think about where that came from.”

I shared with him the story of when my father came to visit in 1991 and he and I took a walk around my neighborhood. My father, another child of the Depression, spotted a roll of brand-new screening, the sort for a screen door or a window screen, still sealed in its plastic sleeve. He picked it up and offered it to me as we walked back to my house. But I didn’t want it. “Dad, what am I going to do with that?” I asked. “Fix a screen door! Fix a window!” But I didn’t own a screen door or a window screen — those belonged to my landlord, who’d have to fix them if something happened. “Well, maybe you’ll move some day!” (He generally spoke in exclamation marks.) “And I’ll have to carry this around with me from place to place every time I move?” When we got to my house — my rented house — he disgustedly threw the screening into a trash bin outside my house. “There!” he said. “Now you don’t have to worry about it.”

Ken’s response was placid:  “He needed it. And if he couldn’t use it, his neighbor could use it.” During the Depression, that is. Increasingly, my generation doesn’t want to own anything it doesn’t have to have — we are the people filling Goodwill to the rim with our cleaned-out clutter; the generation of my siblings wanted to own and dispose and own and dispose; the Depression generation never got rid of anything. In the kitchen cabinet of my mother, there are spices that date back to the 1950s. “Still good!” she’d say. She is 94-and-a-half and has finally retired from cooking to just being served, but if she were still cooking I have no doubt she’d dig out that rusty can of allspice.

Ken has seen a lot in 92 years:  the Great Depression, World War II, the atomic bomb, Watergate, the fall of the Soviet Union, the dotcom bust of 2000, 9/11, the mortgage meltdown, and now this. Through all of that, he’s held onto his optimism.

“I don’t think we’ll get to the point of depression,” my old friend told me. “We’ll be all right. I’ve always lived with a large quantity of hope that things will get better. It doesn’t always work that way — but it works that way once in a while.”

I asked him if I could put this on my blog, because there’s a lot of anxiety in the world right now and people might want to hear from someone who’s seen so much history and come out of it with hope intact. He agreed.

By the way, five years after that walk with my father, which was four years after his death, my wife and I bought a house that needed a lot of work. We had to go out and buy screening.

Fast too-casual

April 19th, 2020

Because there aren’t any more in-person meetings I need to drive to, I’ve been leaving my car at home and instead walking to my office, six days a week. It’s half a mile away and takes 10 minutes and gives me an opportunity to admire the birds and lots of dogs getting more walks than ever, now that everyone’s at home and bored.

The other day I figured I’d also walk to our nearby supermarket, Ralphs, because there’s a US Bank ATM in there, and I needed to deposit some money in one of my accounts. Across the street from it, there’s a cigar shop I frequent, and also a Bank of America ATM where I could get some cash. Putting all this together, I thought, would be a nice walk, and I could cap it off by having lunch at Ralphs. Lunch at a supermarket? Well, they’ve got a pretty good hot lunch counter next to the deli, and seating areas outside. Walk to the office, do some work, walk to the Bank of America ATM, go buy cigars, walk to Ralphs and deposit that check, then pick up lunch and eat it outside, then head back to the office. Walking two miles roundtrip sounded like a nice way to get some exercise now that my gym was closed, and to enjoy a couple of hours in an idyllic 72-degree southern California afternoon.

After getting some cash from the one bank and then buying some cigars and then walking across the street and depositing the check in the other bank’s ATM, in other words, with all chores done, I headed to the service area at the end of the deli. A young man approached and asked what I’d like.

“I’ll have the three-item lunch special, please,” I said.

“Oh,” he said, “We can’t sell that anymore. Coronavirus.”

“Huh? What’s it got to do with coronavirus?”

“I don’t know. We just can’t sell it.”

“It’s on the sign.” I pointed to the sign. “3 hot items, $7.99.”

“I don’t know. Sorry.”

I looked down at all the items in the steamer trays. As usual, there they all were: ribs, fried chicken, roasted chicken, carnitas, mashed potatoes, potato wedges, corn, macaroni and cheese, vegetables and so forth.

“You realize you’re still selling the same food items, right?”

“Oh, I know,” he said mildly.

“It’s the same food,” I said. “It’s right there.”

He was unmoved.

“I walked a mile to get lunch here!”

“Sorry. You can still buy the food, but not the lunch deal.”

He didn’t look to be much older than my son, and he certainly wasn’t the decision-maker here. That had been someone in corporate, or a manager, and now the only decision-maker present was me. I sighed. “I’ll have the fried chicken, the mashed potatoes, and the corn.”

“Okay,” he said. And pulled together an order of eight pieces of chicken, half a pound of mashed potatoes and a quarter pound of corn. For my lunch.

The same things that would have been in the regular order – but tripled. Or quadrupled.

Looking at it being assembled, I now realized that I would need a basket. Originally, I was going to carry my hot meal in its little dish easily in one hand. Now I would need to transport it. While he completed my order, I went and got a plastic shopping basket.

When I came back, he handed everything over. As he released the corn, ensconced in a container that on its own could have held an entire lunch for me, he said with a sly wink, “I rang it up as green beans, because they’re cheaper.” I nodded at the proffer of reconciliation.

I and my massive lunch picked up a bottle of water and went through the self-checkout. I usually avoid the self-checkout because I want to keep humans employed, and because when I get the right checker, he or she will always accept every coupon I present, no matter what decade it’s from, and also personally congratulate me on how much money I’ve saved. The automated checker, by contrast, insists on trying to sell me a bag I don’t need. Today was no different. No, I didn’t need a bag – I had a basket! I paid and walked outside to the seating area.

Except the seating area was roped off. With the sort of tape you see at a crime scene. Coronavirus again, I suppose. I briefly considered just ducking under the tape and eating in there anyway, but then I thought, the heck with it, I would just walk back to the office and eat part of this lunch there and put the rest in the refrigerator.

As I headed to the sidewalk, a man called out, “Excuse me, sir! We need the basket!”

“I’ll bring it back!” I yelled back.

“Sorry,” he said. “We need it.”

“Okay! I’ll just… eat it here.”

And so I sat down on a dirty curb on the corner of the supermarket, like a hobo of yore, and gobbled down some chicken and some mashed potatoes and some corn while taking swigs of water. I had a sudden inspiration that this was just like a scene out of the Great Depression – and hey, we might be in a Great Depression now as well. Maybe this would become the new norm.

Just then, as I sat hunched over in the grime eating out of a shopping basket, I heard a voice call out, “Hey you!” and a woman I do business with passed me in her Mercedes, smiling brightly and waving at me.

I waved back.

Then I packed all of my lunch back into the basket, marched into the supermarket and stole a bag, one of those bags they sell you for 10¢, and I mentally dared anyone, anyone, to try to stop me, and stuffed all of my food into it, and headed for my office.

That lunch lasted me for three days.