Traveling on an international flight has its perks. One of which is the ability to have a few drinks during the long flight when everyone else is asleep. Those cute little bottles seem to add up faster than you realize. The drawback to this airtime happy hour is the arrival back on U.S. soil and the visit to immigration, and subsequently customs, for your re-entry interview. Now under normal circumstances, a trip through immigration and customs is a boring affair. However, through trial and error, we can safely say that neither department’s agents have a sense of humor.Here is a short and incomplete list of a few things NOT to say to re-entry agents.
When asked, “Where have you have been?” it is not appropriate to answer with “a brothel, too many bars to remember, and this cute little place where they package this crazy white powder.”
If you are asked if you have something to declare, I strongly discourage declaring that the agent’s breath “stinks to high heaven”. Also, you are not doing yourself any favors by offering a breath mint or piece of gum.
A standard question is, “What was the nature of your trip?” The simple answer is “business” or “vacation”. The incorrect answer would be “well, you see there are some operations that are not exactly legal in this country…”
If you find yourself asked to step off to the “little room” where an agent proceeds to don surgical gloves, you are probably in for a few intimate yet uncomfortable moments with the agent. Since we have established the agents do not have a sense of humor, refrain from comments such as “Can we go to dinner first?”, “So, do you really enjoy your job?”, and “Please remove that class ring first, I don’t want that thing lost up there”. In addition, I would not recommend encouraging them by stating, “What you find you keep. What you don’t find, I keep.” or winking at any time.
If you see one of the female agents walking through baggage with drug sniffing dogs, you definitely shouldn’t kneel down and pet the dog while asking in a cutesy voice, “Which one of you is the bitch? Huh, come on who’s the bitch?”
Now I know these seem outlandish but like most warning labels, someone has tried them and each has proven to cause some minor inconvenience on continued travel and/or personal freedom. If you find any additional things that should not be said when entering the country, please pull off a few squares of prison toilet paper and write them down for us. We look forward to your research.
Until next time…