“Ma’am, the Department of Homeland Security is going to need you to go through those doors.”
And sit in a white padded and locked room, full of nervous possible criminals and no permission to use screens of any kind.
Here it is, I thought to my self, I’m going to jail for trying to smuggle four bags of a weird kosher brand of chocolate chips across the border.
I might never forgive my sister-in-law.
But, she had brought Cookie Butter over the border for me. And Homeland Security didn’t want a piece of her. Clearly their taste buds are broken.
To be fair, smuggle is a strong word, since I was fairly sure they were completely legal to bring across the border, not being meat, eggs, fish, or dairy products, and didn’t come from a farm. Those are the questions I answered on the Nexus form. But I hadn’t declared them either. I was taking food across the border and didn’t tell anyone.
To be fair once again, I *had* just gotten through a chaotic cluster-f-word in the G section of the Air Canada check-in. It was more than 90 minutes before my flight, and I had my printing boarding pass in hand—you would think the bag drop would be easy. You would think. “Your flight is 8:55, Miss? I can’t promise you are going to make it.” At 6:59am. That seems about right. Little did I know how right the dude was—and he didn’t even know that I was going to have a run-in with Homeland Security.
As I sat in the white padded room, picking at my nails and trying not to let anyone else see me sweat, I befriended a young man who I noticed was no longer nervous. I have been here for five hours, in this no-man’s land, he said. Excellent.
The clock tick-tick-ticked. The sweat drip-drip-dripped.
20 minutes until my flight boards.
13 minutes until my flight boards.
8 minutes until my flight boards.
As the man rifled through my 1/4-filled suitcase filled with mostly a hair dryer and flat iron and a box of tampons, he told me not to be nervous. I hadn’t done anything wrong, other than be the lucky random 10.000th customer. (There was no confetti or prize, unfortunately.)
“You really should declare the chocolate chips, though.”
“I’m so sorry. I didn’t realize I needed to.”
“Just declare food of all kind. It’s better to be safe.”
“I also have three containers of Tic Tacs in my purse.”
“I don’t know if that’s food.”
“One of them is orange.”
“Hrm. You might have a point. Just declare the chips next time.”
“Am I free to go? No jail time in my future. My flight started boarding 11 minutes ago.”
“I suggest you run.”
And so I did.
Like the wind. With my four bags of chocolate chips.