9.5.09

Adventures in Homeland Security, Part I

Recently, I began using Twitter to update friends/readers/colleagues on my ongoing activities. I also linked my "tweets" into facebook, so that my "friends" can get the latest news.

follow me on Twitter!It really became a blast when I told the story (delayed I admit) of my recent trip back to the USA and the run-ins I had with security personnel, which I call "Adventures in Homeland Security, Part I".
  1. On Monday morning, I flew to Spain from Senegal and entered the country with no questions asked, not even the slightest delay...
  2. ...and with my flight to EWR not leaving until 13:05, I took the Metro to have breakfast with friends, and returned to Barajas at 11:00...
  3. ...so I arrived at the check-in counter for Continental and was #2 in the "OnePass Elite" line (a consolation for these zany travels)...
  4. (side note) 2 uptight Americans got on line behind me, then a Spanish couple pulled up alongside us. The Americans freaked out on them...
  5. "Can't you see that we're on line?!?!" "Oh, I thought there were 2 lines." "NO, THERE IS ONLY ONE LINE!". At this point, I stepped in...
  6. "I'll tell you what- you can have my spot and I'll go the back of the line. We're 2+ hours early - it's not like they'll leave without us!"
  7. Why oh why must my fellow countrymen be so poorly behaved at airports?!? (side note ended, now back to the story...) (continued...)
  8. ...before checking in, you talk to a security agent who inspects your passport and inquires about luggage. Seems pretty standard, right?...
  9. ...it starts as usual: "where are you going, how long in Spain, etc." until seeing 6-month-old visas and stamps from Syria and Lebanon...
  10. ..."what were you doing in Syria and Lebanon?" "visiting." "what?" "tourism." (why didn't you ask me in Jan. when I came through here?)...
  11. ..."do you have family there?" "no." (well, I do have 2 cousins of my grandfather - nuns, age 70+ - anyway what business is it of theirs?)
  12. ...now she prances over (little squealer that she is - "I've never seen a squealer like her yet") to find her supervisor and tattle on me...
  13. ...the squealer returns for round 2. "ok sir, so where are you going today?" "to my house, in New Jersey!" now I'm getting annoyed...
  14. ..."where were you before coming to Spain?" "in Senegal." "what were you doing there?" "business." "what kind?" "export and restaurant..."
  15. ..."do you have any business cards?" (with smart-ass smirk): "yes, I do, but I'm not showing them to you, b/c I think this is ridiculous"...
  16. ...the squealer backed down faster than a math teacher threatening a lower grade for not "showing my work" despite having correct answers...
  17. ...feeling rather victorious, I bought my mom some Spanish pastries with the €8 burning a hole in my pocket. time to board my flight home...
  18. ...on line, I am approached by 2 men in suits. "excuse me, Mr. Ajjan?" "yes?" "we are w/US Immigration. Can we see your passport please?"
  19. (back to the story) I hand over my passport almost reflexively, but as the suit starts to flip through it, a rebellious instinct kicks in...
  20. ...I rip it out of his hands saying, "NO, you can't see my passport. I'm a US citizen and don't need to answer questions from Immigration."
  21. the other suit: "no reason to be hostile, we're citizens too, we represent US gov't here." they play good cop/good cop, so I decide to CtFO.
  22. ...the passport is the legal property of the US gov't, not me, so I gave it back and explained that the squealer ticked me off earlier...
  23. 1st suit is from Paterson, we chat about St. Joe's/Eastside. "just 1 question: where were you on this trip?" "Senegal." "ok that's all."
  24. ...so I board the plane. good flight: watch Valkyrie and Bedtime Stories, nap, and chit-chat with the lady next to me from Short Hills...
  25. ...we land 15 minutes early. Arrive to the checkpoint, and there is almost no line. Excellent, methinks, I'll be out of here in no time!
  26. (side note) on line, I was preceded by the Spanish couple from check-in. behind me: the uptight Americans. what comes around, goes around.
  27. ...it's my turn. I hand my passport to the lady, she scans it. "they're gonna have to ask you some questions. follow me." buckle up...
  28. we get to the waiting room, been a few years but the joint hasn't changed a bit. "sit and wait, you're a citizen so it shouldn't be long..."
  29. waiting. Peru this, Denmark that. 1 lady must have been there a while, an officer offers her food. "pepper steak or veggie pasta?" mmm...
  30. still waiting. phone ringing, my ride is here (love you mom!) & is gonna kill me for being late! 30, 40 minutes pass, they call my name...
  31. BtW these border cops are real tough guys w/gun in 1 holster & jumbo-size "your freedom is subject to my whims" passport stamp in the other!
  32. I am handed my stamped docs. "ok you can go." "what was all this for?" "just a random check." (whatever. enjoy the pepper steak, Wiggum...)
  33. oh, we're not done, not yet! stay tuned for the grand finale of "Adventures in Homeland Security, Part I"...
  34. (finale) I claim my baggage, get on line & hand over stamped card for final customs check. officer inspects, directs me to inspection area.
  35. officer returns in a few minutes, addresses me. not "good afternoon sir", not "can you please come here", he goes: "do you speak english?"
  36. ...game on. I explode with indignation. "YES I SPEAK ENGLISH!!! I'M A THIRD-GENERATION AMERICAN!!!"
  37. "what's the matter?" "I'VE BEEN HARASSED ALL DAY FOR NO REASON, THAT'S WHAT'S THE MATTER!" "where are you coming from?" "Senegal/Spain."
  38. "what were you doing there?" "business, car export/restaurant." "can I see your business cards?" "NO I'M NOT SHOWING YOU MY BUSINESS CARDS."
  39. "you won't show me your biz cards?" "why should I?" "you know you can't leave w/o my ok." "yeah." "so will you show me your biz cards?" "NO"
  40. he starts walking away. "why I am being interrogated?" keeps walking (this punk turns his back on me?) "EXCUSE ME I'M ASKING YOU A QUESTION"
  41. turns around. "I WANT TO KNOW WHY I'M BEING INVESTIGATED." "you're not being investigated you're being inspected. can I see your biz cards?"
  42. "No, you can't see my biz cards." His colleague who probes through luggage looks over. The punk tells the proctologist: "I'll handle this."
  43. punk returns w/his supervisor to warn me again that they control my destiny. ooh, I'm impressed. more standard q&a: where been/what doing...
  44. again, punk wants biz card. to his boss: "why?" "proof of activities." "but there's nothing official about a biz card!" "we need to see it."
  45. you see, my fellow Americans, this is how Barack Rodham McBush & their minions keep us safe: force our enemies to show their business cards!
  46. what were they expecting to see? "al-Qaeda Global: recruitment director, West Africa region"? or "Escobar & Associates: narcotic logistics"?
  47. ...boss leaves after the letdown of a japanese restaurant and a car export biz, so now it's time to see the proctologist w/the punk as his nurse...
  48. ...while the proctologist amuses himself with vehicle documents from Senegal, the punk decides to give me a nickel's worth of free advice...
  49. punk: "acting evasive typically means that you've something to hide." huh? I picked a fight w/you so you'd be LESS inclined to search me???
  50. then I was free... thus concludes "Adventures in Homeland Security: Part I". I'm sure there'll be a sequel, hopefully I can tweet it live!
  51. Vive la résistance!

1 comment:

Q24 said...

Oh gosh George. I'm sorry you had to go through all that BS. No citizen should have to put up with that treatment. I hope all is calm and you are relaxing now. I wish you luck on the next trip. Keep in touch.

~Jenn J.