Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Drug Dog and I - Part II

Our travel companions were waved from the baggage area through one door and we were hustled through another. It was a fairly large room  that at first glance kind of looked like a grocery checkout...except the people standing at the counters were in uniform and armed and there were no tills...and, come to think of it, no groceries. It wasn't like I could pick up a pack of gum on my way through.

“Have you been in recent contact with marijuana?” one official asked as we followed his beckoning and pushed our baggage cart to one of the counters.

"We just came from Jamaica,” I said. “Marijuana is everywhere, there. Hotel security tries selling it to you—“

“I know,” he interrupted. “I’ve been to Jamaica.”

What I wanted to say: Then why did you fricken ask that question?

What I actually said: Nothing

My husband carried on the conversation, explaining in more detail the offer he’d received while getting on the shuttle bus to the airport while I followed instructions and heaved the first suitcase up onto the counter. While men talk, the women work—as usual.

“Did you smoke anything while down there?” was the next question.

“We don’t use,” we answered in unison, me adding that we are actually quite anti-drug

 “What do you do for a living?”

Hubby answered first saying he was a housing contractor while I debated whether to say I ran the housing contracting office or to say I was a novelist. Both were true. I hoped to say nothing but, “And you?” was directed my way.

What I wanted to say: I write novels about gangs and drugs and undercover cops and just finished a 23-stop author tour to schools and libraries educating teens and the adults in their lives about the danger of involvement in the drug trade...and I volunteer for the RCMP.”

What I actually said: Novelist. 

“Were you near any cocaine while in Jamaica?” he asked.

What I wanted to say: Although Shrug, a cop character in my BackTracker series, learned all about the international drug trade during his four-year stint undercover with the fictional TRAZ biker gang, he never shared that intel with me so there are large gaps in my understanding. Why would anyone want to import marijuana to Canada from Jamaica when, from my understanding, the best mj in the world is just over the Rockies in the beautiful neighbouring Canadian province of B.C. And furthermore, it was not like mj was dirt cheap down there or something. I heard they were asking for $5.00 USD for one joint! How is it that I hear on the news about drug shipments being intercepted by police on the way from Canada to Mexico? From Mexico to Canada? From Toronto to Europe? From the UK to New York? I have this visual of flotillas of cocaine and marijuana endlessly traversing the oceans of the world waiting to be intercepted--

What I actually said: “Never saw any.”

We were asked about our customs declaration form and Alvin told him the story about the error with the ring. My computer was pulled out of its case and set aside. About then I decided I would buy another smaller computer just for travelling. Unlike regular cops, Border officials do not need search warrants and can search and/or confiscate whatever they wish without explanation or justification. If I were to lose my computer with all my writing...I’d die. I was somewhat comforted by the fact I had taken the time to back up everything before I left, but all the photos from the trip and the personal info on there. Border officials can even demand your passwords and get info your bank files, history—anything else they wish to peek at. Seeing someone manhandle my fuschia lace bra was invasive, but would be nothing compared to the violation I’d feel if someone got into my laptop. 

About then the ring in question was discovered in my change purse. Note to self: fictional drug smugglers ought not to hide their stash in change purses.

They were interested in our money, of which there was notably less than what we'd started out with two weeks ago and every receipt and bit of paper they could find. After uncovering the fourth "Comfort Pack" (blanket, earphones, ear plugs, eyeshades) that came with our upgraded airline seats, he asked, "Do they give these away, or what?"

What I wanted to say: Yes, actually they do. We did NOT steal them.
What Hubby said: Yes

Our Bubba Mugs, large insulated mugs for keeping beer and strawberry daiquiris cold on the beach, were pulled out and opened. I’d asked hubby to pack my sunglasses in the largest of the mugs. He had diligently wrapped each of the three pair in facial tissue (I guess he didn’t realize these are $3.00 sunglasses).  Each pair was unwrapped and examined. NOTE to self: Don’t have your bad guy hide his stash in a bubba mug, or a wallet...or a birthday card.

Items of interest to the Border Officials
I’d turned 50 (again) while in Jamaica (hence the ring) and the birthday card from my friends, which seemed to interest the guy. He pulled it from the envelope, shook the envelope, shook the card. Damned near sniffed it. Perhaps it confused him that some of my friends had written, “Happy 50th!” and others, (whom I like less) had written “Happy 59th! The ceramic souvenir picture frame that had come with the card seemed of concern, as well. 

Meanwhile the other officer who’d arrived to help with search, was pulling Jamaican rum from the various suitcases he was into and lining them up beside my laptop. We were getting mighty close to our liquor import limit—if not exceeding it.

Things were not looking good.

The Drug Dog and I - Part II 
was brought to you by
Drugs, Crime, Cops and PTSD


Chris Longmuir said...

I'm still laughing from the last post, and this one is just as good.

Cheryl Tardif said...

OMG, Eileen. It would've been AWFUL if they'd taken your laptop!! But what I'd like to know is whay do these things happen to you?? lol Must be your not-so-innocent smirk as novel plots race through your head while being questioned by officials.

Note to self: If ever interrogated by customs, think of clouds, and DON'T think of Eileen's experience!

Eileen Schuh: said...

Thanks for visiting and commenting, ladies. I'm not sure why I have so much 'trouble' with airports and the law. Perhaps you're right, Cheryl. Maybe Border Security has the technology to read minds...what evils they must detect. "CSEC used airport Wi-Fi to track Canadian travellers: Edward Snowden documents"