28 September 2006

Clearing Customs

Customs and Passport Control, Washington, Dulles. I shall strangle our travel agent. He has allowed exactly one hour to clear customs, dash across the airport and catch my flight. The next flight leaves five hours later; making it forty hours since my last shower, and already fellow travelers are already giving me wide berth.

“Where’ve you been?” asks the supremely bored passport wrangler.


“What part of Asia?” He asks somewhat more attentively. “The scary, explosive part, or the less scary ‘Kung-fu’ bit? “

I admit the former and his eyes narrow. “What’s the first thing you are going to do in the States?” he asks.

“Get me some beer and a bacon cheeseburger.” I reply. He smiles. That is the correct answer. He stamps my passport. The cavity search has been averted and fifty minutes remain before my connecting flight takes off. If I can clear customs in 30 minutes, I can still catch my flight.

A word about US customs. To clear customs in the States, one must fill out a form that asks searching questions like: “Are you smuggling narcotics into the country?”, “What about Atomic weaponry?” and “Do you have any Asian hookers in your carry on?” (Well, duuuuuh!)

As long as one checks all the “no” boxes, one breezes right through. Despite this, they catch smugglers regularly.

I blame our school system.

In fact, I am still blaming our school system an hour and a half later. Someone, it seems, has checked a “Yes” box and the line has ground to a halt.

I wish a painful, hours-long cavity search by a large wristed gibbon upon you, Mr. “Yes-Box” Checker.

Eventually, I clear customs and recheck my bag with a surly civil servant who scowls darkly; scolding us for our slowness. Apparently, we are supposed to sprint past the machine gun wielding guards so that he wouldn’t be 30 seconds late to his coffee break.

I inform him that I shall encourage any fellow fliers that I judge superfluous to my criminal needs to do so on my next trip.

He doesn't think I am funny either.

And that's the way I likes it.