Thursday, October 20, 2005

Publish Day - Ink Blog - Nasty Officer

Some days, ideas for my column just fall from the sky.

This week, I'm on the move, flying to Boston on a media tour. As my colleague and I were waiting in line to check in at the airport, I was telling her how challenged I was coming up with a really strong story idea for my upcoming deadline. She told me not to worry, that ideas always materialize when I least expect them. How little did I know that my next piece would literally write itself as I passed through Customs.

What I learned from this experience is you must always keep your eyes and ears open. Writers can gain inspiration from anything and anyone, even the sad-looking civil servant sitting behind a wicket at the airport.

Strange ‘Customs’ for such a close ally

Published Thursday, October 20, 2005

The London Free Press

BOSTON, Mass. -- Washington, we have a problem.

The Customs officers charged with deciding who can and cannot get into the United States are apparently in need of an attitude adjustment. At least that’s my conclusion after encountering the mother of all attitudinally challenged officers in Toronto while flying to Boston yesterday for some business meetings.

First, she ignored my approach to her wicket, preferring instead to stare down at her feet while I stood in front of her and wondered what I should do next.

When she finally woke up, she berated me for not having the right kind of birth certificate, for smiling for my driver’s license photo, and for filling out my customs documentation in the wrong coloured ink.

She eventually waved me away with a terse, “Go,” and ignored my wishes for her to have a nice day.

Canada remains America’s largest trading partner. Treating visiting Canadians like cattle is a ridiculous way to attract visitors – and their currency. Perhaps they might consider charm school instead.



ribbiticus said...

at least you can console yourself with the thought that you were treated better than asians. we generally get the immediate assumption that we will try to stay in the states to be assimilated. worse, we get the full inspection exercise accorded to suspected terrorists. :(

kenju said...

Carmi, I am so sorry that you were not welcomed more gently into the US. If that woman knew the kind of man you are - she might have behaved differently. There is no excuse for being rude - especially to Canadians!

Michele sent me again.

Anonymous said...

i've been trying to buy a purse off of e-bay and the one's i want to bid on, won't ship to canada. most of them have actually put up a little disclaimer, will ship to anywhere in the world, except canada and italy. what is the big deal trying to get a purse into canada, i'd be happy to pay duty on it if only i could get it.

L said...

don't take it TOO personally -- Americans treat other Americans that way too....