A Book Smuggler, er, Travel Blogger Goes Through US Customs
You know how sometimes you have really odd conversations with customs officers? Like, right-out-of-the-twilight-zone odd?
The one I had with the American customs officer at Pacific Central Station (aka the Vancouver train station) last week, while I was en route to Seattle, was one of the oddest I’ve ever had. It went like this:
Customs Officer: And what do you do for a living?
Me: I’m a book editor.
Customs Officer: Oh! That must be an interesting job.
Me [pause]: It can be.
Customs Officer: Are you bringing any books to Seattle with you?
[confused look on customs officer’s face as he turns back to my declaration form to see what goods I’m declaring (none), at which point I realize he means am I bringing books to … sell? to … distribute? to … oh, I have no idea for what purpose he might think I want to bring books into his country, so I decide I better clarify the situation for him]
Me: I have books with me to read. I’ll be bringing those same books with me back to Canada.
Customs Officer [frowning]: We ask these questions for a reason, you know.
Me: You asked me if I had any books. And I do.
[customs officer doesn’t say another word, gives me back my passport, and waves me on through]
Since I was at a writing conference, I bought one or two (erm, six) books, as one would expect. And, since I don’t want to be arrested for book smuggling, I declared them to the Canadian customs officer upon my return to Canada after the weekend was over. As one would expect.