Capn's Blog

Monday, April 16, 2007

Immigration nitwits

Here's a story of one man's experience with US immigration:

I have my own true story.

I went to the US in 1998, about a month before my eldest son was born. Last taste of freedom, etc etc. Went through immigration in L.A. I had a long list of LA backpacker hostels to stay in, but I didn't have any kind of reservation or definite plan.

The immigration form asked for my place of residence. I left it blank. I asked the immigration "person". He said, "That's where you'll stay tonight. Unless you write an address in that space, I can't let you in". I said "but even though I have a long list of places to stay, and will stay at one of them, I don't have one preorganised". He said "then I can't let you in". I looked at him. He looked at me. An æon lasting several seconds passed. Then he rolled his eyes, sighed, grabbed the form and wrote "1600 Spring St, Downtown" on it. I asked him what it was. He said "I think it's City Hall". I said, "Local government offices? I have no plan to go there, and even if I did, how can you live at City Hall?"

He said, "You want in, you have to sign here". I said, "I can't sign that, I'd be making a false declaration, you'd know it was a false declaration, then you really could kick me out". He said "I can anyway, and if you don't sign it, that's what I'm doing to do".

He looked at me. I looked at him. The crowd behind grew longer. Well, I'm damned if I do, and damned if I don't, so I might as well sign it. And I did. After all, I was following the direct instruction of a US immigration official, one who himself wrote a fake address on my form.

What is it about US immigration? Is it really the worst in the world?


  • I look like an All American. It might be because I *AM* an All American. Plus I don't smoke. I don't gamble. I don't speed. I don't jaywalk. I am a compulsive law-abider. But when the government heaps more pointless rules on top of me, a law-abider, I become slightly to moderately annoyed.

    Out of business traveler habit, I try to remove all metal from my person before flights to make it easier to go through security and to avoid excessive radiation absorption. (I am certain the x-rays have already made me sterile and caused giant, seething brain tumors.)

    In April 2002 (six months after 911), I went to the airport to fly from Flea Dirt to Hawaii. The new airport Nazis (The TSA) randomly picked me, an All American, and the 86-year-old in the wheel chair, all the while randomly ignoring the Arab terrorists in full mufti. They scoured my bags for any semblance of anti-American literature, bomb-making paraphernalia, firearm usage instructions, etc. (Actually, my inspector was a rather hot looking, rude wench in a tight sweater. Obviously, from her perfect uniform and perfect nails, she wasn't used to doing any real suitcase inspection work.)

    On the third or fourth x-ray, she discovered that I had forgotten to remove from my wallet my newly verboten SwissCard.

    She freaked! You would have though that I had uttered Presidential death threats, anti-union proclamations, proof that global warming does not exist, proof that God exists, proof that humans are better than animals, proof that meat is not murder, proof that JFK was a marginal president, proof that the USA is not a democracy, proof that FDR knew about Pearl Harbor beforehand, and proof that private business can do anything that the Federal Government can do quicker, better, and cheaper.

    The TSA agent went into her bomb-disposal mode and moved in slow motion across the room carrying the SwissCard high atop her perfectly manicured fingernails –

    - How can her fingernails be so perfect if she handles bags all day? –

    - high atop her perfectly manicured fingernails as if it were a vial of extremely unstable nitro-glycerin surrounding the most lethal pathogen ever created.

    Was that a tiny bead of sweat upon her upper lip?

    – high atop her perfectly manicured fingernails as if it were a chalice of holy aircraft toilet blue ice about to be offered to the FAA gods.

    Then, she unceremoniously dumped my SwissCard into the trash and said "Contraband".

    I continued into the waiting area and fumed.

    After fuming for an adequate period, I went back and I asked what was wrong with my SwissCard? Now the onus was on the Nazis. Her two working brain cells went into overdrive.

    She reached into the trash. (I had a quick daydream of broken fingernails.) She started pulling parts from the SwissCard seeking forbidden fruit. The two brain cells could not handle a 90º arcing cover: she broke it off and found the two inch long scissors. Contraband! She found the two inch long letter opener. Contraband! She found the two inch long nail file. Contraband!

    Can you imagine a hijacker holding a two inch long knife to someone's throat? The hysterical laughter would do more damage.

    She found the plastic toothpick. Safe! She found the pen. Contraband!
    “Now, wait just a minute. It’s a pen!
    “It’s got a sharp point!”
    “It’s a PEN!”
    “It’s got a sharp point!”
    “I want to see a superviser.”
    She stomped off. She shook her breasts at the jerk – I mean “other TSA agent” – who used to be an incredibly rude and stupid ramp worker but was now an incredibly rude and stupid and powerful member of management of TSA.
    “It’s got a sharp point!”
    “It’s a PEN!”
    “It’s got a sharp point!”
    I took the pen and scribbled on the palm of my hand.
    “It’s a PEN!”
    “It’s got a sharp point!”

    In a blinding flash of logic I realized:
    1) you cannot argue with the stupid who have already made up their minds;
    2) you cannot argue with the stupid who are having sex with each other;
    3) you cannot argue with the stupid who have all the power;
    4) you cannot argue with the stupid who have a union; and,
    5) you quit while you’re ahead before they confiscate your GOOD pens.

    They also proved that the Federal Government naively believes that:

    "The pen is mightier than the Sword of Allah."

    Note 1: When I reboarded in Salt Lake City, I had the new and joyous experience of a random reboarding check. That means that before you get back on the jet you just left, they check you, again.

    Oh, yeah. The TSA interceded in my big plot! I had one of my dozen twelve-year-old Morman wives drive 2,000 miles from Flea Dirt to Salt Lake City, get a job at Salt Lake City International, learn to build bombs in her spare time, build one special for me, sneak it into the airport, and give it to me to carry to Hawaii so I could widow her and my other eleven little Morman women.

    And, once, again, they ignored the Arab Terrorists in full mufti. ("Hey! Osama! Will you hold my SwissCard for me?")

    Note 2: The TSA didn't find my really big Swiss Army knife. (My Victorinox CyberTool was in the computer case.) They ignored a pen made from titanium. I am certain that I could have inflicted some significant shocks with my computer's batteries, too.

    With TSA on the job I feel so -- insecure.

    By Blogger James, at 5:41 pm  

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