Guess which occupation is the unfunniest on the whole planet, the working people with the single worst sense of humor about their work? Customs and Border Patrol officers. They don’t laugh at anything. Ever.
I recently went to London on business. It’s important to point out that “on business” part, because it means that not only did I get to go to London and you didn’t, I got to go to London and you didn’t and I didn’t have to pay for it. That last part is the real killer. I was incredibly busy with the “on business” part, which is just common sense because if I wasn’t going to be busy while traveling on business, I would be forced to call it “going to London on slack-assedness.” Even though I was very busy, I did get to see a couple of famous landmarks and eat a couple of really good meals. It was great. The most important thing I learned in London is that I now have to refer to things as “fabulous.” Everything is fabulous in London.
When it was time to come home, I boarded a fabulous plane with my fabulous suitcase full of fabulous souvenirs and eventually landed in our fabulous airport where a less-than-fabulous security agent directed us all to the Customs section. My first mistake was telling the security agent that I didn’t need to go to Customs because I’m an American. Apparently, that does not help you to not have to stand in line with the rest of the tired and poor huddled masses standing in line at the Border. (NOTE: I would like to point out the this particular US border is in Atlanta, so it’s basically five hundred miles inland of our actual geographical border…and we can’t figure out why people are getting in illegally?) I stood in line with everyone else.
Agent: Documents, please.
ME: Here you go!
Agent: Do you have anything to declare?
Agent: Do. You. Have. Anything. To. Declare? (See, right off the bat we weren’t going to get along because he thought I didn’t speak English but he was holding my US passport. Yup.)
ME: Um, declare? Like, make a declaration?
Agent: I guess so.
ME: Um, racism is wrong and we should totally allow gay people to get married?
Agent: No, I mean did you buy anything in the UK and bring it back here?
ME: Well, sure.
Agent: Is it livestock?
Agent: Did you buy livestock?
ME: And then put it in this little suitcase?
Agent: Are you transporting more than $10,000 worth of money or monetary instruments?
ME: Do I look like I’ve ever seen ten grand all at once?
Agent: Did you come in contact with any biological or chemical agents that could be used as weapons?
ME: What the hell do you think I do for a living?
Agent: Are you aware that you have not answered a single question? And why is it that you did not write your passport number on your declaration form?
ME: Because those little numbers are tiny.
Agent: You still have to write them on your form or it isn’t valid.
ME: You’re HOLDING the passport AND the form. And that won’t work…why?
Agent: You’re going to need to follow this agent. No, don’t bring your suitcase.
A man in a hazmat suit (okay, those suits are not flattering…it could have been a woman) retrieved my suitcase while I sat in a little cubicle around the corner. They searched my luggage like I had the map to Amelia Earhart’s body, then came back to me with an ugly accusing stare.
Agent: What are these?
ME: Those are cookies. It says so right there.
Agent: Did you know these are illegal in the US?
ME: Because they’re crack flavored?
Agent: Because they make false claims.
ME: I bought the LYING cookies???
Agent: They claim to be “digestive” and the US does not allow false health claims to enter the country.
ME: My cookies have to tell the truth but Congress doesn’t?
Agent: This is contraband. There is a fine for bringing contraband through customs.
I tried to do the math and all I could come up with were each cookie now cost me about $1400, according to the fine. Luckily, I’m a first-time cookie offender so they just threw them in the trash where they were immediately pounced upon by the sniffer dogs (which did not help my crack flavored joke at all) and let me go after a serious warning about taking this whole process a lot more seriously. I kept listening for the word fabulous, but that’s apparently a UK thing.