You Can’t Fight Customs, c. 1989…

Hanging with Juan Lennon in Havana

Hanging with Juan Lennon in Havana

The Customs guys in Houston had a little table set up on the ramp to the airplane for the international flight. I’ve never seen anything like that, so ignore it. They flag me over. I’m Mr. Profile, by the way. They have a picture of what the typical bad guy looks like; it’s a picture of me. Hey, can I help it if I’ve got an eccentric flair for fashion? I’ve got carry-on luggage, so immediately I’m suspect. Under US law, if you’re carrying more than $10,000 in ‘monetary instruments’, then you gotta’ report it. No big deal; I know all that. I travel all the time; it’s a way of life. I deal with Customs officials all the time; it’s a way of business. I even do my own Customs brokering, so know the rap. They think I’m trying to be a smart-ass. They want to see all my money, so we do that, counting every penny.

Back then, ATM’s weren’t so popular, so I had traveler’s checks, plenty of them, since I buy handicrafts. It all added up to about $9,300 or so, well under the limit, or so I thought. Let’s wrap this up and get on with our lives. But no, the guy with the badge is getting excited. He leaves and comes back a few minutes later, telling me to follow him on to the plane. Like a good citizen, I obey. We go into the cockpit, where he informs me he wants to ‘know what that bulge in my pants is’. I sh*t you not. I had to pull down my pants for some pervert with a badge while two pilots and a flight attendant looked on. I guess now I know why it’s called a ‘cockpit’.

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