mardi 8 juillet 2008

International Underwear Smuggler Busted at Paris Airport

Maki and I just got back from a trip back to Miami. Maki will have more interesting observations on that in the coming days. Naturally, while in Miami, we took advantage of the ridiculously cheap Bushlandian Dollar to do some shopping and update our wardrobe, so we hit the nerve center of the Miami-Caracas shuttle trade known as Dolphin Mall. I had actually wanted to buy some indentured servants and mail-order brides to bring back with us but Maki held me back reminding me that we wouldn’t have enough room for all that in our suitcase. So we were discreet and only bought a few shirts, handbags as well as the usual socks and underwear from Sam’s Club. Furthermore, a family friend (who shall remain nameless) gave us a bag full of clothes to bring to her son (who shall also remain nameless) who is a student here in Paris.

Well, when we arrive in Paris, we are about to leave the baggage hall when we are called back by customs agents. Customs???!!! I honestly didn’t even think they had such a thing here. I’d never even seen them before, neither at the airport nor on the chunnel. You may recall that when we first moved to Paris we arrived at the airport with a ridiculous amount of suitcases, cardboard boxes and even paintings and we breezed right out of the airport.

Anyway, the customs agents start asking us all sorts of questions about how much stuff we had bought, how much money we had spent, etc. (mental note: next time do NOT speak any French: might as well make their job more difficult. Advice to anybody else who gets pulled over by French customs: speak in the thickest Texas drawl/Cockney/Jamaican Patois you can muster. Chances are high they'll get bored of you and let you pass.) Obviously they didn’t find our answers very convincing, as they proceeded to open all our suitcases and rifle through all our clothing. One guy even opened a letter in my suitcase (it was my American Airlines AAdvantage statement) and started reading it. That part really made me livid: he seemed fascinated by it. I really felt like asking him whether I had enough miles for a trip to Cancun or not.

The story gets bizarre when the customs lady (three of them to go through our socks and underwear: it must have been a slow day at CDG) opens the bag sent by our family friend. There are some Calvin Klein underwear in it and she asks me: “are those real?” I shrug and answer “I sure hope so”. She replies “Well, I hope you didn’t pay too much money for them because they aren’t”. That’s right folks: fake underwear!!! It seems Miami is a hotbed of this activity, despite the fact that you can buy the real thing at Costco for $9.99 a dozen. Who would bother to fake them is beyond me, but hey, a French customs inspector can’t be wrong: can she?

The worst part is that as soon as she tells me this , I look up at the wall behind the customs lady and there is a poster with dire warnings about the stiff legal consequences of bringing fakes into the country. Apparently, being the home of Louis Vuitton, they’re quite sensitive about that kind of thing over here. So here I was, imagining that I was going to be thrown in the nick over some underwear that didn’t even belong to me. I figured they would at the very least confiscate them, but no, she let me through, undies and all. Like I said, it must have been a slow day at CDG. Oh, and a certain nameless young friend of ours in Paris will not have to go commando, but will be forever henceforth known as Calvin Fake.

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