Friday, 4 January 2019

USA Passport control .. and then some.

Some years ago on a visit to the United States this little incident took lace at the passport control desk at San Fran Airport..
I had just flown all the way down from the UK to San Fran, a trip of about 13 hours, great trip, club Class all the way.As ujsual I joined the seemingly endless queue to have my passport checked and after aboutb two hours I was finally the next one up. During my wait time several more jumbo jets had arrived from various parts of the globe and they had disgorged their passengers, hundreds of them..all behind me.  But I was next.
I got waved through to the desk and my friendly greeting was completely ignored by the Passport Control Officer..she didnt seem happy in her job, about five feet tall and the same across the shoulders, she grabbed my passport, looked at me, looked at the passport again and said.
PCO"You here for business or pleasure?"
Me, smiling.."Both."
PCO."Are you here for business or pleasure?"
ME, slightly concerned.."Errn,,both."
PCO..Slightly irritated and not looking me in the eye  "Are you here for business or pleasure?"#
ME quite concerned and a little hesitant.."Both...Officer."
PCO..still not looking at me, waves her hand nonchalantly at the massive queue behind me."See that line sir?"
ME ..I was even longer "Yes."
PCO "Would you mind going to the back of that line, your hearing might improveas you wait and you may be able to answer my simple question."
Ok..I had reached peak angry time now and I moved to where I could look her in the face as she shoved my passport back across the desk to me  "No."
PCO..Who had never heard that word addressed to her in her almighty position of power, she was outraged and almost choked on  "Whaaaatt?"
ME.."You asked me a question which I have answered several times...I am not trying to deceive you I just want you to stamp my passport so that I can go and enjoy the delights of your fair seem to have a problem with that>"
PCO..Now completely out of it and resting one hand on the butt of her big automatic pistol at her side "Go to the rear of the line, learn some manners and get your correct answer ready, now."
ME  Thinking I should grab someone nearby as a shield, fearlessly said." get me your supervisor."
That was the magic trick..she stared at me with total hatred ..hesitated a moment
 or two then grabbed a phone from the desk top, muttered something I did not catch, put down the phone and turned away from me as we waited.Two minutes later a man in a  suit and tie arrived, he wore a name tag around his neck and seemed to be a person of authority, he gave me a brief nod and turned to the PCO
POA.."What is the problem?"
Still without looking my way she told him "This passenger refuses to answer my question...Sir."
POA  "Which is?"
PCO. "I asked if he was travelling for business or pleasure?"
POA    Turning to me  "And are you?"
POA  "How?"
ME   "I intend finishing my film which is what the visa is for and then plan a driving tour of California."
POA..  grabs my passport from the desk and stamps it vigorously, hands it back and apologises for the delay, waves me through, as I pass the PCO the POA leans towards her and says,,(His words)  "You fucking idiot, when your shift has finished come to my office."

I suppose there must be some point to this story, cant really think of one except avoiding standing at the rear of a Passport queue,,,for the second time...maybe one should always ask for the supervisor.