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Monday, October 07, 2002

B Day: The Eighth of October

Tomorrow is B Day. B is for Box. That's when we have to go up and retrieve a metric tonne (literally!) of crap I have shipped from Sydney. That's when we have to find room for nearly four cubic meters of garbage in our abode, and our storage unit (still holding my stuff from California sigh). Pity me.

I will have bad words for the shipping company in a couple days, but not today. Today I had to go up and pay over $400 I didn't think I'd have to pay, and collect random and mysterious bits of paper, tokens of power, which then had to be carried in state to the Customs office, several miles away.

Now, the shipping company had given me some forms for Customs. These ran two or three pages and included a form for listing all your belongings, and their value, and for all I know every place you've ever lived and what you had for breakfast on June 13th, 1985. Oy! Fortunately, we'd done that in Sydney already, and had the list with us. It was my intent to just say "See attached list", and attach a copy of the Sydney list.

But first I had to get new forms, because the ones I was given had been xeroxed so many times they were illegible. There were boxes to check if certain statements applied, but I couldn't read what the statements were:

___I am bringing plant bark and seeds into the United States.

___I am bringing endangered tropical birds into the United States.

___I am bringing extremely potent narcotics into the United States.

___I am bringing illegal aliens into the United States.

___I am bringing extraterrestrial aliens into the United States.

___I am bringing nuclear weapons into the United States, yankee pig-dog.

___I will soon be the great and powerful ruler of the United States. Bow down before me!

For all I know, that's what these boxes said.

At the Customs office, they have a window with two seats and a divider between them. One side is for personal effects (what I was doing), the other was for a bunch of other things, such as general inquiries. I figured, "May I have more forms, please?" was a general inquiry.

Customs Lady: May I help you?
Me: I'm trying to ship in some personal effects...
This is the personal effects window over here.
Yes, ma'am, but the shipping company gave me these forms, and...
You need to go to this window here.
...and they're illegible so I was just wondering if I could have some new forms, please?
I'm sure they do have new forms, but you'll have to ask them. Just ring the bell.
Yes, ma'am. Thank you. Rassenfrassen miserable grumble zither compartmentalization blither feeble bop hafta fill out a form to get a new damn form.

This was a little old lady in ordinary office clothes. When I rang the bell a big beefy man in a uniform with gun swaggered up to the window.

Sgt. Rock: May I help you?
YesI'mtryingtoshipsomepersonaleffects *breathe* andtheshippingcompanygavemetheseforms *breathe* butthey'vebeencopiedsomanytimesthey'reillegible *breathe* socanIhavesomenewonesplease? *gasp*
You got your release form from the shipping company?
You got your bill of lading?
You got some sort of ID?
Got my passport.
You bringing in any food or alcohol? Vehicles? Anything purchased within the last year?
No and no, I wish, and no.
*Xerox, xerox, stamp, scribble.* Here you go, ma'am, you're all set.
What, that's it?
That's it.
Why *flutter eyelids* thank yew, suh! Yew jes too kind to little ol' me!

And we escaped before they decided they needed to charge us money.

Homeland security! Apparently I could've brought anything in as long as it wasn't food or alcohol, a car, or less than a year old. "No, nuclear weapon I bought from Soviets is older than that. Traded all vodka and caviar for it. Did not come with mobile rocket launcher, so no vehicle."

Now all I have to do tomorrow is hand over one last piece of paperwork and fling money in random directions until we can prize my stuff from the grasp of yet another company and stuff it into a U-Haul.

Gonna be a long day.