I handed my passport and declaration form to the nerdy, curly-haired little man at desk 21 in Newark. He looked at me with a psycho stare and said, “You’re not even close to being done with this.”
I had no idea what he meant and asked.
Instead of saying, “Please fill in your passport number,” he told me to take a look at the form between lines x and y to see if I could figure out the problem. I was embarrassed when I realized I had skipped that line so I could reference my passport later, and then forgot. So I asked if he had a pen.
He said in a strange voice, “Oh, yes, I have a pen.” And he sort of waved it at me oddly before handing it over. While I was at it, I realized I had also left the date off of the signature line (because I saw a posted sign telling people not to forget the date – it must happen frequently.) So I finished and handed the pen and the form back to him, thinking, let’s just wrap this thing up.
But I had to make another change with the pen after he made some other insulting comment about my ability (or lack thereof) to follow directions, because I put the month before the day, so I sheepishly defended myself by saying well, since I was back in America, I was thinking in the American date format, not the European format.
This arrogant little asshole in his cocky uniform picked up his passport stamp, swung it back and forth in my face, and said, “See this? You aren’t in America yet. This is what will get you into America.”
He took his time looking at the rest of the form before he said, “Hmm… this looks a little light. What happens if I run my finger across it like this… will it erase?” I told him, yes, I had done it in pencil because that’s all I had in my bag on the plane, and I really did look the form over to see if it had to be done in pen, but I couldn’t find any specifications about that. I said I would be fine with re-doing it if he had another form. More insults, but he told me just to go over certain sections and the signature with the pen, and said hopefully they wouldn’t “hang me for it.”
Then he swung his all-important stamp back and forth again and asked me if there was any reason he shouldn’t let me back into the country. I said no.
As he gave my passport the green light, he told me he hoped I would be able to handle the responsibility of traveling in the future and be able to follow directions.
If I hadn’t been afraid of ending up in handcuffs and not meeting my kids for dinner, I would have mouthed off. But I swallowed hard, said thank you, and moved on.
Gee, it’s great to be home.