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Tuesday, 21 September 2010

It’s (not) the real thing.


I received an e-mail from an American airline advising me of changes to security arrangement for passengers arriving in the United States. The e-mail reminded me of an incident which happened to me the last time I flew into Los Angeles airport. Being of a conscientious disposition, I completed various landing cards, including one which listed the produce I was bringing into the country. I will never forget as a schoolgirl, Russian border guards insisting I consumed the fresh fruit I had brought with me on the train from England. The alternative was to have it confiscated.

When I showed that I had such a declaration on arrival I was sent to stand in a special queue. Finally, I reached the head of the queue and handed my form over to the seated official. He almost choked as he read it.
“You are bringing in coke!” he spluttered in disbelief.
The man had misread my handwriting. I had in fact written cake. In case I should feel peckish when I reached my hotel, I had packed a hermetically sealed fruit cake. Once the mistake had been cleared up I went on my way. However, subsequently I did wonder whether an American court would accept a prior declaration of illicit drugs at customs in mitigation, should I later be charged with possession of cocaine. It is not something I would ever consider putting to the test.

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