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When I was first invited to oversee the riots in Paris, I thought my years of service for attending riots were going to be rewarded with such an impressive offer. As it turns out, I wasn’t invited to oversee anything. Apparently I just clicked on one of those Travelocity pop-up ads and booked a flight.
Now that I was in Paris and the rioting was calming down, I needed to figure out what I was going to do. The concierge was suggesting things like the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre, but since I had come to France with the expectation of seeing riots, those activities seemed a little tame. Seeing that I was in France, I decided that I would take a page from that 1971 classic film “The French Connection,” and plot the greatest caper since Alain Charnier fooled Popeye Doyle on the streets of New York City. It should be pointed out that I know that “The French Connection II” takes place in Marseilles and that would be more representative of me being in France, but recall that Alain Charnier is killed in the final scene by Detective Doyle. When planning any caper, it’s important to remember how the movie ends.
There are diamond theives and art heists, but what would be a caper so great that it woult top even those? That’s right. I would sneak foreign meat into the US right under the noses of US Customs Agents.
I had less than two weeks to plan this masterpiece. Stopping only briefly to watch American soap operas dubbed into French, I hatched a plan so perfect that Gene Hackman must have been turning over in his grave. I had spent the better part of a week buying different types of meats in an effort to see which ones would smuggle best. Snails were to slimy. Leopard was too endangered. Rack of lamb was too pointy. I needed a meat that would travel well and take up little space. I settled on chorizo.
The plane ride was uneventful. Things were looking up. When the movie portion of the flight finally began, one of the film choices was “The French Connection.” This was insane. I didn’t know whether to take this as a good sign or what. Charnier did escape. I wanted to escape. It had to be a good sign.
After getting through Passport Control, I still needed to get my luggage and make it to the parking lot. There were three international flights touching down at the same time. This surely was a good thing for me. The odds of me being searched were greatly reduced. I was home free. When I got to the luggage carousel, I saw my bag, but feeling over-confident, I let it take a victory lap with the other unclaimed luggage. I picked up my bag and WHAM!, there was a Customs Agent staring me in the face. He asked where I’d been. What I did for a living. Who my employer was. Then he asked the question I had been dreading, did I have any meat products with me? I had planned for this moment in France. I had practiced what I’d say. I had ice water in my veins.
“No” was my reply. After a few uncomfortable moments, he let me go. Can you believe it? He bought it. I was less than an hour from having delicious chorizo in the comfort of my own home.
It was then when things turned ugly. It was as if things were happening in slow motion. Everyone in the airport turned and began staring at me. When I finally was able to focus, I realized that I was jumping up and down with my fist pumping in the air saying, “Yes, yes, yes!” Like many who had tried before me, my life was about to be ruined by the thoughts of flavorful meat products.
I was whisked into a room and surrounded by three US Customs Agents. They began searching through my stuff and asking me questions. They must have asked me the meat question a dozen times. I wasn’t going to crack. I could beat this. I had trained almost non-stop for this moment. It was at that moment that an agent dipped into one of my hidden pockets and pulled out my stash. I was busted.
They took my passport and the chorizo. They asked me why I didn’t declare it and if I knew what it was. I clammed up. They weren’t getting any more information out of me without a warrant. For about ten minutes, they entered information into a computer. I could barely see over the man’s shoulders, but I could make out one thing: “LIKES SPANISH SAUSAGE. SPICY.” Now I’m afraid my name is going to show up on all sorts of Federal lists and I would begin receiving endless Hickory Farms catalogs.
They confiscated my chorizo and let me go. No doubt they had one helluva tasty snack at the Detroit Metro airport last night. I fought the law and the law won. I may not have had my sausage any longer, but my dignity was still intact.
As it turns out, the trip was a success. With all of the attention they gave to me over my foreign meat, Kate was able to walk in without notice with fourteen kilos of heroin sewn into her coat. Viva la difference!
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