Reply To: Humour at Homeland Security

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Back in 2004 I was transiting through SFO en route to HNL and had gone through immigration when a security officer stopped me in the corridor and demanded to see my passport. I handed it over and asked if there was a problem. He didn’t answer but continued flipping through my passport and then said: “You’ve been in the UAE?” I said yes, told him for how long and for what purpose. He then said: “You’ve been in Jordan?” Again, I confirmed that I had and told him for how long and for what purpose.

He looked me up and down and asked me what I did for a living so I said that I worked as a lawyer and he said: “Contentious or non-contentious?” So I told him non-contentious and started to explain what I actually did, at which point he held up an imperious hand and said: “Mam, I just need you to say contentious or non contentious. Do you have a business card or proof that you work as a lawyer?” As it happened, I didn’t have any business cards on my but I did have my Law Society card which included my enrolment number and told him I was happy if he needed to check it on line. He then held up an imperious hand again and told me that I was free to go.”

To this day I have no idea why the guy stopped me or what he hoped to get from the experience.

More recently I arrived at MCO in March for the start of a theme park-based holiday and was called forward by the immigration officer who asked me the purpose of my visit. I explained that I was on vacation at which point he quizzed me on where I was going, so I gave him the full details, at which point he asked again who I was travelling with and I said I was on my own. He looked at me like I was stark staring bonkers and repeated: You’re on your own?” as if this had never once happened to him ever. I then had to explain that I often vacationed by myself and had never had a problem before. I then had to tell him which hotels I had booked and after each one he said “And you’re staying there on your own?” before he finally waved me through. Truly bizarre. Never had anything like and I hope not to have that problem again.


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