Thursday, January 29, 2009

Customs needs a box for people like me

I don't know if its jealousy and curiosity on the part of the customs officials or genuine suspicion, but whenever I re-enter the states from abroad I am in for at least one hour of interrogation and an ever-so-predictable search of everything I have brought back with me, including a complete manual (and awkward...) scan of my laptop, ipod and cell phone.

Customs needs to add a box to their form for people who are young, self-employed, affluent, geographically mobile and who are not terrorists or drug dealers. There are going to be more and more of them as the internet becomes more of a powerful way to make money.

Where did you arrive from: 'Thailand'
Were you there on business or pleasure?: 'uhh...pleasure?'
How long were you there: 'Six months?'
A six month vacation?: 'Well I sorta live there'
So you live in Thailand: 'Ok...yes'
What is your occupation: 'Uhhh...I'm self employed'
And you work in Thailand: 'No'
Where do you work: 'Wherever I am'
So it was a business trip...: 'No, not exactly'
When was the last time you were in the USA: 'I have no idea, check my passport, probably 9 months ago?
Where were you since your last visit to the USA: 'Hmm, good question, let me see. Singapore, Hong Kong, UK, Cambodia, Holland, France...think thats about it'
What was the purpose of those trips: 'I like to travel'
So were those trips business or pleasure: 'Pleasure I guess'
I thought you said you work wherever you are: 'I do, but I did not go there to work'
Sir I'm going to need you to sit down over there, we are going to have to question you further'

Then the mandatory full body cavity search ensues. So fucking lame.

Last night I came into the UK and got the same deal, except I was detained for more than three hours and finally given permission to enter. The first two people I saw evidently just could not believe the person standing in front of them matched the story they had been given...luckily the 3rd person was a poker fan.