On Bureaucracy

I was happy to get home, open my bag, and find a flyer from the Department of Homeland Security telling me that they’d been carefully through my bag while I wasn’t looking, presumably as part of its ceaseless fight against terrorism. It was quite a good pick, in fact, as – unusually – it was a bag mostly full of clean laundry, so it won’t have been either an especially unpleasant or complicated task.

In some respects, the authorities are getting more consistent: each time I boarded a plane, I had to remove my shoes once (and once only), in place of the irregular variation from zero to two times that seemed to be in force in the earlier part of the decade.

But the Feds haven’t made their mind up as to whether Josephine and I count a family or not (and therefore whether we can go through an airport together with the same customs declaration form or not). One border official thought that of course we weren’t a family unit, as we didn’t share the same last name. Another at a subsequent border crossing thought that that was absurd, and that being married was enough to qualify. You’d have thought the bureaucracy would have managed to come up with a consistent policy on this by now. It’s not exactly an unusual situation.

4 thoughts on “On Bureaucracy”

  1. One of mystudents in American government was arrested as asuspected terrorist!The irony is that hes a Ron Paul supoporter and (isupect) aJohn Birch conservative. His crime was carrying a sign saying”Shut up and trust your government”(hows that for sarcasm?).For this terrible misdeed the police raided his home, arrested him,confiscated his mothers gold jewelry,and trashedhis room.

  2. I wonder what the point of that ‘family’ thing is.

    I went to New York and was told that myself and my partner weren’t family. It crossed my mind that my 8 year old niece had been wanting to come with me – would she and I have counted as family? Would my elderly mother’s presence have helped – is my mother my family, is she my niece’s family (grandma)?

    Or if for some utterly bizarre reason, it had been me, my niece and her ‘other’ Nana, would that have been ‘family’? Or suppose you had a married couple with the same surname and the child of one of them from a previous relationship, would their ‘family’ status be dependent upon the surname.

    I know a married couple who have taken a syllable from each of their surnames to create a new surname for their children.

    And then I thought, the previous time I had been with a friend, ‘just’ a friend, but one I am more open with than many members of my biological family (assuming that mother and niece count as family…).

    But even though he and I aren’t ‘family’ we were allowed to go through Immigration together…

  3. A mutual acquaintance was once mock-threatened with being refused entry to the US on grounds of communism. This surely trumps all border guard stories.

  4. In some respects, the authorities are getting more consistent: each time I boarded a plane, I had to remove my shoes once (and once only), in place of the irregular variation from zero to two times that seemed to be in force in the earlier part of the decade

    Get on a plane at Zaragoza and you’ll have to remove your belt before you go through security. I suppose this may be to prevent people hanging themselves in frustration at having to fly Ryanair…

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