Thursday, November 2, 2006

No offense to all of the brave men and women in the Customs department, protecting our borders from foreign meats and cheeses, but will you please stop giving me shit about my luggage at least until you start inspecting more than four percent of all cargo containers coming into Port Newark down the street. I'm proud to say that I did shove my way to the front of the plane like a jerk and power-walked out of the gate when the head Customs guy made an announcement on the P.A. Seven overseas flights were all landing late, they were expecting about a thousand people to come through Customs, and they were going to need everyone to put in some overtime.

Let me tell you, I'd been on my feet for the past sixteen days, but I fucking ran to the Customs officers, and guess who was number one?! Me! I was panting a bit, and the woman manning the line asked if I needed some water. I did.

So they stamped my passport and asked me where I was coming from, which I couldn't tell if Customs Guy really cared about my vacation or if he was just seeing if I was a terrorist. Whatever, I knew the right answer and it took about ten seconds, but let's do some math. Ten seconds times a thousand tourists equals two hours and forty-six tourist-minutes, and I wonder how many dirty bombs or sex slaves someone with a German shepherd could find in that time. Then at the baggage claim, another Customs guy comes and bothers me — I think because no one else made it there yet — with questions like, "Where were you coming from?" Again. In case I had the wrong answer and the first Customs guy missed it. And, "Where were you in Italy?" How the hell can this inane interrogation help us win the War on Terror (a.k.a. Struggle Against Global Extremism). I don't like our ability to catch terrorists based on the chance they'll make some super-obvious mistake: "I was in Italy, just sightseeing. You know, Venice, Florence, Khartoum.... Oh, shit, I meant Rome."