What is it about US immigration officers that makes me feel like a criminal? Every time I approach the desk I feel like I am auditioning for Midnight Express. Listen – all I am doing is trying to get down to somewhere sunny and then at the end of it trying to get back to Canada. Would a smile kill ya? Maybe this is part of the training – do not engage with the aliens.
On a recent trip back to Canada we changed planes in Newark so we had to go through immigration – again. I was directed to one of the officers whose light was on indicating that he was open and ready for the next person in line. He rudely told me to step back behind the line as he was having a personal little bitch session with his colleague. I stood there – behind the line – contritely. Hell these people scare me witless. They have the power. To make matters worse he called me “ma’am” – ugh. I don’t think I am a ma’am type of person.
Just as well I have dropped all my old bad habits from when I lived in Africa. Bad habits such as smuggling in fruit and lettuce. Hardly seems a crime does it? During the time of cholera it was prohibited and a head of lettuce was worth more than ….well I dunno. Name your prohibited item…. Maybe a head of cannabis ??? (It was banned in those days). So it was just a couple of heads of lettuce and a few apples. Did that make it justifiable? No. But the Swazi border patrol guys were happy Africans who liked to joke and chat and knew us from our frequent trips across the border. All very pleasant. Not like ….. well, you get my drift.
Whatever you do just keep quiet, answer the questions and don’t make any jokes.
No Mister … don’t smile!!!!
Whatever we think of going through US Immigration it is a necessary evil as so many of those lovely must-visit places involve a trip through the States. So I practise my humble smile, bite my tongue and leave the contraband at home.