Tuesday, 17 May 2016

The Land of the Long White Meat Search


I have a bitch resting face. I’ve had it all my life. Sometimes it’s to my advantage. Like the time I snagged my most excellent PA job at Fitch and Co, Design Consultancy, London. Aged 19. Camilla my interviewer could not believe how laid back and confident I was. Underneath that Naz-type veneer, I was perspiring with fear and experiencing my first ever case of Imposter Syndrome, thinking holy typing-speed how am I ever going to DO this job, I’m saying I can do.

I got the job.

The other day my BRF got me the X-ray … How to hack off an NZ Custom’s woman in one interrogation.

Broad woman in blue uniform: Have you got any nuts, seeds, plant materials?
Me: No
BWBU: Any honey?
Me: No.

BWBU: Any food of any kind?
Me: Yes chocolate, I declared it.

BWBU: Have you got any shellfish?
Me: No.

BWBU: Have you got any MEAT?
Me: … Nope …

MEAT! Do I look like your typical meat smuggler? I tried to contain my face. It has a mind of its own.

BWBU: Wrote a lot of officious looking ticks and squiggles and 603 with a pungent black marker and said -  Straight ahead, through the X-ray.

The guy before us had got - left, through boot inspection. He hadn’t used his boots in six months.

Couldn’t they just spray us with fly spray while still on-board like they used to? I actually doubt the efficiency of those fruit n veg and flesh machines. FYI a round soap looks like an orange. I’ve been scanned before.

Daughter 17 and I carried on after wearily heaving our bags on and off the conveyor belt. We’d been travelling ten hours and had another hour wait and a domestic hop between us and home. We got up at 5.45! 5.45! It was 2.35pm. Down the hallowed welcoming halls, past floor to ceiling murals of probably the only non-dairy pastoral scenes left in NZ, I pushed that lopsided trolley admiring the sheep.

We were greeted by a handsome middle-aged Maori man on the entrance to the duty-free hypermarket. He spoke on a corded microphone. He looked like he might break into song. Something big band. Cheryl Moana Marie. I hoped. He spoke in a deep and dulcet cheery tone. A comforting familiar tone you might expect to hear in a bingo hall in a rural town on a Tuesday night. Legs eleven. He was offering Toblerone minis.

‘Everyone loves free chocolate,’ he chided. ‘Chocolate anyone?’ He proffered his laden basket with a smile. I ditched the trolley and barged diagonally through the slow moving crowd and grabbed a handful. Two actually.

‘Thanks!’ I said. ‘Kia ora.’

What a pleasant welcome. This guy really perked things up in this speckled grey suit. His cheeky slightly bored smile and neatly combed hair. Dude was cool!

I thought of newcomers to the land of the long-white-meat-search and wondered what they made of it all.

Only one computer scanner photo machine was functioning. The Smart-gate locals queued. An official rebooted the machine while we waited. It still didn’t work. Those with exotic passports skipped through human-assisted booths. And got a stamp.

Just before the exit doors a friendly black labrador sniffed our baggage. Obvs he could not smell that leg-o-lamb nestled amongst my seed infested sneakers. His sensory checker must have been tuned to other import no-nos.

Welcome to New Zealand.
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