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



I got home today from my fourth trip with air travel in seven weeks. Between April and today, I’ve been to Nashville, Napa, San Francisco, and Omaha, NE. There are people who fly every single week. I don’t envy them. I was supposed to have continued on to Philadelphia and then southern New Jersey today, which would have added another seven days to what was already a nine-day trip, but a week ago I rerouted all that to come back here to Los Angeles. I just needed to be back here for a while.

Today I have to note again that every TSA system in the U.S. seems to operate by rules of its own making. This morning at 5 a.m. (Omaha time) when I was sitting on my overstuffed carry-on suitcase to zip it shut and wait downstairs for the cab, I had a psychic forecast that TSA would make me open said suitcase up for no good reason. How did I know? Because I wasn’t sure I’d be able to get it closed again. (One returns from the Great Plains Theatre Conference with more than one takes. Including three pounds around my waistline, courtesy of nine days of culinary-school catering.) When they ran my bag through the scanner twice, I knew I was in for it. They pointed at an x-ray revealing what they were calling a series of little spikes (or, in our world, brass collar stays). So I said, “Those are brass collar stays.” Dumbfounded looks back from the woman heading the investigation. “You know,” I went on, “the things you put into men’s shirt collars. To hold them firm.” Not good enough. So they opened the suitcase and asked me to speculate on precisely where in the suitcase they were (even though we were actively looking at them in the x-ray), while they prowled around in my bag because I wasn’t allowed to touch anything inside it. Finally, with two of them digging everything out, they lifted them out almost with a cry of eureka. Holding them aloft, the TSA woman said, “Oh! These are the things my husband puts into his collar!” “Yes,” I said, “they are… brass… collar… stays.” Her response, delivered reproachfully:  “His are plastic.”

So now I’m back, and can fully unpack. I’m not going anywhere (so far!) until July 8th for Comic-Con in San Diego. I ran to the supermarket a few hours ago and stocked up. The culinary academy in Omaha does a great job, but I’m looking forward to eating at home for a while.

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