The Lighter Side of Customs by Marianne Jeanette Delaney

Category: 
Language: 
English
Creative Commons: 
CC BY-NC-ND 4.0
Accession Number: 
S2012.2221.1
Story Text: 

The Lighter Side of Customs
By M.J. Delaney

Reprinted at the authors request.

AIRPORT

I lived in Jamaica for a number of years and a story circulated about a woman who conned Her Majesty’s Customs so beautifully that even the Officer involved had to shake his head in admiration.

“Anything to declare, madam?” he asked.

“Yes, I’ve brought a special smoked ham from my family in Toronto.”

“Importing meat into the country is illegal, madam. I’ll have to seize it.”

“I see. May I have your name please, Officer?”

“Yes” said the Officer.

“Okay, have a nice day.”

The lady waited a couple of days and then looked up the Officer’s name and address in the phone book. She drove to his house and knocked on the gate. This is common courtesy and common sense in Jamaica– it keeps the gate between you and the inevitable dogs. The housekeeper eventually appeared. The lady told the housekeeper that the Officer had a ham in the freezer for her and asked the housekeeper to bring it to her. She thanked the housekeeper for passing the (banned) ham. She drove off into the proverbial sunset with her illegal goods. When the Officer found out, he was too embarrassed to pursue the matter any further.

Some years back, my wife and I had the pleasure of escorting a group of thirty senior citizens on a visit to the (then newly born) State of Israel. We had arranged to clear Customs before arrival. Having landed, our passports were quickly stamped. To pass the time, we waited outside our chartered bus watching the baggage being loaded. An elderly woman in our group approached and said to me,”When…when…do we…like go through Customs?” I proudly answered,“ Mrs. Singer, we’ve been precleared. We’re on our way to the hotel.” A look of complete disappointment engulfed her face.“Cleared?” she murmured.“All my life, I’ve been waiting for a Jewish Official in a Jewish land to ask me questions and YOU PRECLEAR ME?!”

My brother and his wife were returning from their honeymoon in Costa Rica. On their trip back, they were standing in line to go through Customs. A Customs Officer with his specially trained Labrador Retriever were checking carry-on baggage for possible drugs. Standing in line ahead of my brother and his wife was another newly wed couple who had brought some of their wedding cake with their carry-on baggage (to keep it from getting squished). The Officer and the dog eventually worked their way to this couple. The dog sniffed their luggage and then sat beside the wedding cake (indicating there were drugs in it). The officer (somewhat concerned) asked the couple, if he may check the cake. After opening the package, the dog had another sniff of the cake and decided to eat it. The dog managed to scoff down about one third of the cake, before the officer stopped him. There were no drugs in the cake but the quick-thinking dog knew exactly how to get the Customs Officer to open the package.

At twenty-six years of age, I was on my way to Hawaii, with three girlfriends for our first time. I had two suitcases, a large one with all my clothing and toiletries and a smaller one which contained yarn for an afghan I was crocheting. I expected to have a lot of‘leisure hours‘. I also had a box of feminine hygiene products . A huge, burly Afro-American was checking us through. He gave the contents of the larger suitcase a cursory glance but stared at the contents of the smaller suitcase for a moment. Then, loudly and with some dismay, he pushed my cases along, rolled his eyes and said,”Honey, you may as well have stayed back home!”

During the Christmas break of 1990, a friend and I went to Cancun, Mexico for a week’s holiday. Shortly after our arrival, all his identification went missing. It was impossible to replace the missing identification, before returning to Canada. We returned to Pearson International Airport in Toronto, expecting a long delay at Customs. My friend explained that his identification was stolen in Mexico. The Customs Officer asked“What is the phone number of PIZZA, PIZZA?” The answer was obvious and we were through Customs in a flash.

In 1967, my mother made her first trip outside of England and took her first airplane flight. On her return, she went through Customs for the first time. She left Canada with new clothes (both in her bags and on her person), a new gold ring on her finger and a large watch on a chain around her neck. In all, the value was quite a bit more than that allowed for people returning from visits to Canada. My mother was incapable of lying or cheating, so I told her to let me know how much she paid Customs and I would reimburse it. A week later, I received the following:

You don’t owe me anything for Customs. A young man with a very nice smile said:

“Do you have anything to declare, dear? I didn’t WANT to declare anything so I just said:”No.”

A couple of years ago, my family and I were traveling to Florida when the Customs Officer asked for proof of citizenship. I simply took out a little Canadian flag I had in my wallet and said“Will this do, EH?” Needless to say, we spent the next hour at United States Customs…

My late father was traveling from Toronto to Dubai, Unites Arab Emirates. Upon departure at Toronto airport, he was asked where he was going.“Dubai”, (via U.S.A.) he said. Well, they checked him out thoroughly and then after an exhaustive search of his very mundane belongings, they asked“to buy what…there’s nothing in your luggage!”” They heard Dubai as‘to buy’.

While waiting to go through Customs in Australia, I was impressed by how strict the regulations were. I didn’t want to get‘caught’ so I confessed to having some candy by marking‘yes’ in the food declaration and stated‘a few candies’. The line-up was long and slow so I started eating the candy. By the time I reached the red line, I changed my declaration to‘no’ and explained,“I ate them.” The Customs Officer laughed and stated“I can’t argue with that.”

When I first arrived in Canada (from England), there was no weight limit on baggage. However, the number of bags and size was limited on my flight. My husband had come ahead of me and of course, on arrival I had discovered numerous articles he just had to have and could I please pack them in my suitcases. From traveling quite a lot, I had discovered that by packing cases a week in advance the contents gradually compressed so that I could add more. Working on this basis, I repeatedly added more to the cases, until the morning of my departure, it took my mother, my sister and I sitting on the cases, to close them. The weight, by now, was so great I could barely lift them and we secured them with straps, in case the locks popped open. Upon arrival at Toronto, I was one of the lucky ones chosen to have my luggage examined. Thinking back, I must have looked very suspicious, as I was very pregnant and could only stagger a few steps at a time with the suitcases. I was unable to lift the cases onto the table because of the weight. You could see the suspicious glances exchanged between the Customs officials. I was ordered to open my cases and no amount of pleading made any difference. In the end, I grimly told them that this would be very embarrassing and closing them would be difficult. Nevertheless, they were adamant. They removed the straps and I produced the keys, unlocked the larger case and opened the catches. Three Customs officials gathered around in expectation. For a moment, nothing happened. The lid didn’t budge. Then with a creak, one corner popped free and they all leaned forward. The next moment, the suitcase exploded and contents flew out of their compressed state like a small bomb and my underwear (which had been on top) shot up about three feet. What goes up must come down. The Customs nearest the case fared the worst. When the clothes had settled, he was draped in frilly underwear with a bra hanging over one eye. I will never forget their faces. Two left and the last removed my bra from his head and attempted to restore the suitcase contents which was, of course, impossible. After fighting a losing battle for several minutes, he produced a large garbage bag and with a bright red face, firmly transferred the surplus to the bag and refastened the suitcase. The other officials, by this time, had seen the funny side of the liberation and busied themselves elsewhere, casting occasional glances in our direction and grinning with delight. For me, it was the highlight of an otherwise tiring day.

My wife got a 15% discount at Toronto Airport for‘HONESTY’ (declaring what she bought in New York )!?

A friend of mine was standing in line at the Pearson International Airport ( in Toronto ) and observed an obnoxious passenger ranting and raging at the young (obviously inexperienced ) female Customs Officer.

“Did you know”, he yelled at the Officer,“Toronto is the ASSHOLE of the world?”

“Yes sir”, she replied ( equally as loud ),“are you just passing through?” the lines of passengers broke into laughter….

“Anything to declare, sir?” the gray haired and experienced Inspector questioned the incoming ( to Jamaica ) passenger.“No, Inspector.” The weavingly, drunk passenger replied. The Inspector did his job and inspected the passenger’s bags. He discovered two forty ounce bottles of Johnnie Walker Black, hidden amongst dirty laundry. The Officer ser the bottles up on the counter and said,”Sir you’re allowed one bottle of liquor duty free, you must pay duty on the other bottle.” The good natured Officer chose not to mention or invoke the part of the Customs Act which deals with smuggling, in consideration of the long lines behind the said jackass, no doubt. The man ranted and raved and refused to pay any duty on his smuggled booze. The Inspector refused to budge from his lawful position. Finally, in frustration, the man grabbed one of the bottles and dashed it to the floor, where it shattered with a most impressive crash.“There!” he cried in triumph, it’s smashed. I am not paying duty.” The Inspector leaned back and smiled, arms folded over his chest….”Oh dear sir,” he said calmly, pointing to the mess on the floor,“ that was the duty free one, you must pay duty for the one on the counter.”
...
Having flown up from Japan, my wife and me landed at Khabarovsk, Siberia ( a cheerless stone mausoleum of an airport ). We had our passports carefully scrutinized and stamped. We were then told to wait in the lounge, with our suitcases until called for processing by Customs. Finally, I was called and approached a table, manned by a humorless male and a grim female Officer. They pawed through my open suitcase and then indicated I was to open my carry-on bag. Out came razor, pajamas, etcetera. The thing they grabbed was the latest copy of MacLean’s Magazine which I had been reading in the aircraft from Japan. They turned the pages, one by one until in exasperation, I indicated they could keep it.“Nyet” was the reply. They through it in the bag and roughly indicated that I should clear out. I did, quickly. Later that evening, at The Intourist Hotel, I reached in the carry-on for a pocket book I had put in the bottom. I had even forgotten which one I had brought. I turned pale when I saw the cover and read the précis on the back! It was a mystery concerning a KGB plot to assassinate the President of the United States of America, while attending a conference in London, England! I’m sure that if those Customs Officials ( who were obviously looking for subversive material ) had dug deeper into my bag and found that book- well-l-l , I would probably still be in Siberia…

In the heat of the summer of 1989, I was processing the Horizon Air Flight from Seattle at the Victoria International Airport. I entered the pilot and copilot, followed by two female passengers in their early 30”s. They were together and chatting, when I asked the usual questions. One of them was quite buxom. When I asked her,“Do you have any weapons?” She paused for a moment then stuck out her chest and said“ Just my 38’s!” It caught me off guard and I started laughing. Her friend was quite embarrassed and said ,“ I can’t believe you said that?! You even made a Customs Officer laugh!”

On my way out of the airport terminal to get to the ferry terminal in Sidney, British Columbia, I passed a Royal Canadian Mounted Policeman ( known as R.C.M. Pete ( his name was Pete ) and told him the story. Upon finishing my stint at the ferry terminal, I returned to the airport. An elderly Commissionaire passed me with a big smile on his face. He thrust his chest forward and howled“ Just my 38’s”. It seemed that everyone who worked at the airport has passed the story around and had a good laugh.

We were traveling‘home’ to the Isle of Mann and had to go through Customs in England. At this time we had many small members of the family and had collected the‘Little sprout’ Green Giant doll. When it came time to pack, they simply took up too much room. A friend and I crushed the plastic dolls into this small carry-on bag and did up the zipper. I was traveling with my mother in a wheel-chair, two suitcases, two carry-ons and coats. We were through the first Customs and I hadn’t realized there was a second to go through. Suddenly, a man grabbed my small carry-on ( I think he was trying to help) and I automatically said,“Oh no, don’t open that.” I heard a deep voice say,“WHY NOT?” as the zipper was unfastened and a dozen Green Sprouts bounced all over the floor…

Several years ago, while being interviewed by United States Customs and Immigration at Dorval Airport, the official asked,“ Where do you live?”

“Dunvegan, Ontario,” I replied.

“Dunvegan?” he blurted out.

“Y-yes,” I said haltingly,“ there’s a place called Dunvegan.”

He looked at me sternly.“ Where in Dunvegan,” he demanded.

All kinds of thoughts leaped through my mind. Was Dunvegan a flash point for some secret smugglimg ring? Was there something sinister ( and illegal ) going on under my very nose in tranquil Dunvegan where the only commercial venture to serve its population of seventy-two was a lonely post office?

“Where do I live?” I managed to say.“ At Fiske’s Corner.”

The line behind me lengthened. Some shuffled impatiently. He stared back at me.“ You in the old cheese factory?”

“No,” I said with some relief.“I’m across the way.”

He smiled.“ You’re in Angie’s place. Angie Stuart. The blacksmith shop!” Now a smile crossed his face, as he proceeded to tell me of how when he was a boy, their family lived on a farm near Maxville and every morning, he would accompany his father to the cheese factory to deliver the milk. Then , with a piece of cheese and a hunk of bread in hand, they’d take their horse drawn rig across the way to Angie’s where they’d sit for awhile and as he said,“ shoot the breeze” while Angie hammered away at his anvil.

Later, when I finally took my seat on the plane, the passenger beside me commented,“ That Customs man sure gave you a hard time.”“ Yes,” I said“ he did” and left it at that. My thoughts were immersed in the updated anecdotal history of the place I call home.
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On my return from the Netherlands, a Customs Official at Pearson International Airport advised me to obtain a computer printout regarding my Landed Immigrant status. ( I had a faded copy and my stamp of entry in an old passport never gave me any problems.) A good idea, I thought at the time. I came to Canada in 1968 but my name was not in the computer. Now-w-w, he started questioning me about my validity to be in Canada ( which I thought was unnecessary, as I was already readmitted). He asked about my address. I told him and handed him my driver’s license. Apparently, that would not suffice. FINALLY, this question:“ What is PIZZA,PIZZA’s phone number?” O told him and he let me go home to Mississauga.

My sister from Scotland attended our wedding in Canada in 1966. On her return journey, she was given the top layer of our wedding cake to be duly shared amongst the remainder of my family in the United Kingdom. As the story goes, the Customs Officer at Prestwick was an older chap with a jovial manner which was enhanced by his unmistakable Scottish accent. After the usual questions about purchases and gifts, the officer said,” And are you carrying any food products with you lassie?” Sensing the need to be equally jovial, my sister said“Yes, I have a wedding cake in this parcel. Would you like me to cut off a piece for your lunch?” To which he replied.” A likely story , lassie, be on your way.”

At Kimpo Airport in Seoul, South Korea, everyone must put their suitcases on a table and open them. I was traveling with my wife, who had in her bag all the usual supplies ( pertaining to ladies). Since this was a six week, ten country trip, she tried to pack as practically as possible. This involved taking things out of boxes and filling spaces randomly with smaller items. She did this, amongst other things, with sanitary tampons. As the Korean customs Inspector ( who had a very limited command of English) reached into her suitcase and lifted some clothing, noticed one of the round tubes. He pulled it out and put it on the table beside the suitcase. Reaching into a different corner, he found two more. Onto the table they went. Now he was on a mission. In a few seconds, there was a d=fair pile of them on the table. When he could not find any more….he declared ( with a victorious grin):“Cigars, pay duty!” So-o-o, the following conversation started between him and my wife:-

“These are not cigars.”

“Cigar, pay duty!”

“But these are not cigars.”

“Cigars, pay duty!”

(a little louder this time)“ These are not cigars.”

At this moment, the Inspector picks up one of the tampons, brings it up to his nose and starts sniffing it. He seems to be developing some doubts that this is contraband tobacco but wants an explanation. My wife, understandably, is reluctant to go into great details. The conversation goes on:-

“No cigars. What is it?”

“Tampons.”

“No cigars. What is it?”

“ You know, I am a woman. I need these every month.”

“Every month?”

“ Yes. I am a woman.”

Suddenly, he gets the message. Passports are stamped and he disappears with a very red face into the background, before the tampons are back in the suitcase.

Early in my sculpting career, I had my bronze casting done in Norway. A shipment arrived and my customs Broker sent me the manifest. Amongst several other items listed was“4 ruddy ducks. The broker phoned to tell me that the shipment had arrived at the airport. He said the crate had to be opened in the presence of an Officer with the Department of Health. I was a bit mystified about this. In former shipments, I had never had any problems and why get the Department of Health involved? You can imagine the embarrassment this chap got, when he unwrapped four bronze ducks! Some zealous government employee obviously had been under the impression that I was importing wild fowl into the country?!”

Decades ago, I was in the United States for quite some time and was flying back to New Brunswick via Vancouver, British Columbia. I was given a Customs Declaration Form on the plane which I completed. Upon handing it to the Customs Officer, he looked at the form, for what seemed to me to be an extended period. Obviously, he said, you have been out of the country so long that you didn’t know how the regulations have changed. The allowable amount was much lower than what I had declared. He then suggested that I fill out another form and this time‘stay within the allowance’. While this encounter may not reflect well on Customs Officers, as a young woman, I appreciated it as a humanistic act.

Before coming to Canada in 1965, I was in General Medical Practice in England. A patient of mine, born in Czechoslovakia had joined the Allies during World War 11. Eventually settled in England, he became a British subject. When it became politically safe, he decided to visit relatives in Czechoslovakia. He visited his brother who was a dentist in Prague. In the course of conversation, he told him that his daughter had recently been accepted to study dentistry in England. On his return to England and before passing through Customs at Prague Airport, he bought some pate de fois gras. Shortly thereafter, his brother rushed up to him and thrust a bag in his and said,“ Give this to your daughter. She will need it to study anatomy.” It was a skull!

It would have been interesting to witness the Customs Officer’s expression, as my patient explained away the presence of a diseased liver in one hand and a skull in the other…..

On my first trip to Japan, I encountered a Japanese Customs Inspector at the inspection table. I asked him, if I should proceed through the area because no one else was stopping.

The Inspector replied:“Hi”.

I smiled and said:“ Hello” and stood there for a minute or so with no more response from the Inspector.

I asked:“May I leave?”

The Inspector replied:“Hi”.

Once again, I responded:“Hello sir” and waited for a response. This little exchange went on for a couple more rounds. Finally, another official came up to me and advised me to continue on, as no inspection was necessary. It was not until later in my trip that I learned:-“Hi” in Japanese means YES…

When returning from my first trip to England, I brought home a couple of packets of Safeway scones. My first port of entry was Newark, New Jersey. Being most conscientious, when I read the question about bringing in food items, I diligently ticked“yes”. At the agricultural window, I had to produce the food items in question. The gentleman whom I encountered had never seen or heard of a scone. Reassured as to its safety in entering the pristine shores of the United States, he happily waved me on.“But wait”, I stopped him,“wouldn’t you like to try a scone?” In the quiet halls of Customs, we consumed dry scones, no tea, from Safeway in Stratford-upon-Avon, England.

BORDER

LEGEND HAS IT THAT:

An elderly Irish nun, returning from a visit to France was asked by British Customs, if she had anything to declare.“Sure and I bought nothing at all”, she said earnestly. The officer opened her suitcase, passed his hand through flannel and wool and then, with a stern look, produced a bottle, unlabelled but full.“What‘s this, then? He demanded. Why, it’s holy water, sir, holy water which I got in Lourdes.” The officer uncorked the bottle, sniffed deeply and frowned at the Irish traveler.“This is gin!” he accused. The old nun lifted her eyes heavenward and sighed happily,“Holy Saints! A Miracle!”

Professor Gold (geologist) was doing field work in Quebec. In early September, his field party was joined by a solitary Canada goose who was obviously separated from his flock. They fed the goose and it became attached to them. When it was time for Professor Gold and his party to close the camp and fly south, they did not know what to do about the goose. Professor Gold decidedthat since they were flying south by float plane, why not take the goose with them. They flew to Montreal with the goose. Professor Gold was driving his van south to Pennsylvania and decided to take the goose with him. When he got to the United States border station, the Customs Inspector stated that he needed a certificate from a veterinarian, before the goose would be allowed across the border. Professor Gold’s pleading about thousands of Canadian geese flying overhead across the border had no affect. The Customs Inspector stated that he needed a certificate for ANY goose going through his station. Professor Gold solved the standoff by throwing the goose into the air and driving across the border whereupon the goose rejoined Professor Gold. While they were at a rest stop (with the goose standing on a picnic table), they heard a flock of geese flying overhead. The goose took off, circled once and joined the flock.

In 1970, I was returning to Canada from the United States by car via Peace Portal border crossing near Vancouver. I completed a declaration form and went on my way. About two months later, I received notification that mu duty free allowance for the year had been exceeded by about $2.00, together with a demand for the duty for less than $1.00. I ignored it but over the next few months, I received further demands with threats of increasing severity. I remember thinking that the stamps cost Canada Customs more than what I owed, never mind the time to prepare and mail the demands. I eventually wrote them a check for the required amount as follows:“Pay to the Receiver General of Canada the sum of ninety cents or the whole of the nation’s economy will come to a grinding halt”. When I received my paid checks from the bank, on the back of the offending check, someone had written“Phew, just in time”. At least someone at Canada Customs had a sense of humor.

I was working secondary with another officer, when a vehicle was referred for a selective examination. The occupants were two elderly gentlemen in their seventies. As I approached the vehicle, I noticed that there was a dog sitting in the back seat of the vehicle. The driver handed me his declaration which indicated that they were only in the United States for a couple of hours and had nothing to declare. As my partner and I walked alongside the vehicle, glancing in at the dog and the rear seat area, we both noticed that the dog remained sitting in the middle of the seat, on a blanket, staring straight ahead and virtually ignoring us. We asked the occupants to step out of the vehicle which they did and still there was absolutely no reaction from the dog–which happened to be a boxer). We found this unusual behavior for a dog, not to move toward us at all. At this point, I asked for him to be removed from the car and this is the reply I received:“ Oh no, Livingston doesn’t like to get out of the car. He just likes to sit in his seat.” Well, let me tell you, after hearing this, O had to work at keeping a straight face. Eventually, I was able to convince the owner to remove Livingston from the car. For the record, this dog did not go willingly. When Livingston was a safe distance from the vehicle, I was then able to examine the rear seat area. When I lifted the blanket which Livingston was sitting on, I was‘SURPRISED’ to discover an assortment of liquor bottles and cigarettes. When I informed the occupants of how much they would have to pay, I could hear them bickering with each other and say”WHAT A STUPID DOG!”

About twenty years ago, my grandmother used to grow catnip. It really excited cats. My folks decided to take some to the United States. A Customs Inspector eyeballed the package as being suspicious. As hard as my mother tried to explain away the catnip, the Customs Inspector wasn’t convinced. Finally, she asked him to sniff it……..

In 1965, I was traveling with five others from Canada to India, mostly by land. We were not in a Volkswagon Camper, as were many other‘Pilgrims’. No, we were in a 1955 white Cadillac convertible. We had acquired a trailer, of sorts, in England but this had broken down and had been abandoned in France with many of our supplies. Caddies were not meant for six people and camping gear. We had to cull down our possessions. One of our members insisted that we take the six boxes of baking soda ( for cleaning our teeth). The boxes were bulky so he got rid of these but saved the baking soda. We made it across Europe and were now entering Asia. The Border Guards were impressed with the car and we were impressed with their guns. They threw open the trunk and four of them froze. In retrospect, I can well imagine their thoughts when they saw the bag of white powder sitting on top. They looked at it, at us, poked it, opened it and kept giving us hooded glances. It finally occurred to us that they were paying a bit too much attention to our baking soda. Oh! We began to explain in English, German, French, and Yiddish that it was baking soda for our teeth. BAKING SODA! For our TEETH! We made brushing motions, grinning like mad. Eventually, one of the men stuck his finger in the powder and put it on his tongue. The expression on his face is hard to describe. The rest of the guards took a taste, as well. Maybe they don’t have baking soda in Asia. Well, we got through Customs and continued on our way. As we drove away and looked back, the guards were still all there looking puzzled. The white powder certainly had an effect.

One July day, we took the ferry across from Juan de Fuca to join my husband’s brother and his wife who had arrived in Port Angeles. I was carrying a basket with a gift inside for our relatives. Much to our consternation, the security‘sniffer’ dog zeroed in on my basket! We stood there…worried sick over what Customs Officers would think…while the dog got more and more excited!!! The gift was a MEATLOAF!
...
A couple of decades ago, having married a lovely lady from Alberta, I decided to move permanently to Alberta. Being from the United States, I had to apply for permission to enter as a landed immigrant. Later, with the necessary papers in hand, my wife and I stopped at the Cardston Point of entry where I was interviewed at Canadian Customs by a most personable young man. He questioned me at considerable length to verify, I suppose, that I was the person described in the documents. Finally, he said I have one last important question to ask…”Since you are going to live in Alberta, have you practiced saying EH?”
...
I worked at the time for the University of British Columbia, in one of the Biological Sciences Departments. During an extended mail strike, several of the departments opened up a mail box in Blaine, Washington, in order to receive mail. I regularly brought mail down to Blaine and picked up incoming mail. One day, about two weeks into the strike, there was small parcel which had arrived that was addressed to one of the professors in the Zoology department. When I arrived at the border, a Customs Official asked me what I had been doing and if I had anything to declare. I explained to him about the mail service and he noticed the parcel. I was told to bring it into the Customs examination area. I was then asked what was in the parcel. I explained that I didn’t know. Upon opening the parcel, it was found to contain several small vials of liquid. The enclosed letter was not very helpful in explaining the contents. I was then asked to go across the street to the Agricultural Officer for clearance. The Officer telephoned the zoologist who explained the vials contained fecal dropping from snakes that were to be used in some scientific studies. After being assured that they would be disposed of properly when finished with, he said that the parcel would be clear to cross the border. I asked him what I should tell the Customs Officers, in order that I might proceed. He came with me to the Customs desk carrying the parcel. Walking up to the desk, he explained to the Customs Officials,“Have you ever seen snake shit before? Well, you have now!”

Some years ago, my wife and I left Welland about six thirty in the morning to begin a winter holiday in Florida. It was an absolutely wretched morning…pitch black, bitterly cold, high winds blowing a heavy snowfall…the worst blizzard of the winter, by far. The wind was so strong that the snow was falling horizontally and visibility was zero. We crossed the Peace Bridge and pulled up on the United States side. The snow was so heavy that we could barely make out the Customs and Immigration kiosk. The door to the kiosk slid open about two inches. A voice…no body… just a voice called out:“where are you going?” Nothing about our nationality or where we were born. I shouted back into the blizzard“Florida”. The voice said“ Lucky bastard”. The door slid shut and that was the end of the interview.

We were crossing into Washington at Danville when the Unites States Customs Agents asked us to pull over and had us get out of the car. My wife, myself, and our very possessive Elkhound stood and watched, as the Customs Agents searched the car with a German Shepherd. Our Elkhound took exception to‘another’ dog in his car. He became uncontrollable. It was all I could do to hold on to his collar. The Shepherd (a drug sniffing dog) became more and more agitated,