The Penalty

When the plane landed in Detroit, the Americans started clapping, perhaps overjoyed at the sight of snow outside the windows.

The French woman across the aisle nudged me, showing me the card we needed to fill for customs. “Do you think we need to declare cheese or saucisson here?” I remembered I had two packs of saucisson (one for my family, one for me, hehe) in my luggage, and I shrugged, unsure, and ticked the box indicating that I had meat or meat products. The lady did the same.

Bug-eyed and pissed off at the prospect of taking yet another plane, I collected my bags and handed my form to the Customs guy. “Hold on,” he said, second-glancing my form. “What’s this product you declared?”

“Saucisson,” I told him. “Dried sausage, the kind you get in France.”

“Sausages. That’s meat, eh? Hmmm.” This guy was a real rocket scientist. “Thank you for declaring this, ma’am. I’ll have to ask you to go thru that counter on your right…”

After having to explain again what saucisson was to the woman who was wearing gloves and going thru my bag, she extracted the precious saucisson packages, which were harmless, comfort food at best. “Thank you for declaring this, ma’am. We really appreciate it. If you hadn’t declared them, you could have been fined up to 300 USD.” She gave me a huge, warm smile, and emphatically dumped the packages into a huge garbage can.

It took all my efforts to not scramble over the counter and retrieve them.

After the bag check, the equally-upset French woman fell into step with me. “They’ll probably be feasting on my fromage and saucisson later,” she said bitterly. As we rounded the corner, she sighed and said, “Well, at least they will have a taste something wonderful and delicious for once, no?”

Ah, the French. You can strip them of their fromages or saucissons at customs, but they will only end up pitying American food.

Currently listening to:
Iron and Wine
The Shepherd’s Dog

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