Monday, September 03, 2007

But You Don’t Look Like a Librarian!

Speaking of librarians my good buddy Guy Robertson who has worked for years as a librarian and a disaster planner was recently denied access to the United States on the grounds that he “didn’t look like a librarian!” But let Guy explain:

“Shortly after Remembrance Day, I arrived at Vancouver’s bustling airport three hours before my flight to Jacksonville. I checked in at the airline counter and confirmed my seat. Then I strolled through the doors of U.S. Customs to apply for my work visa. Having spoken at length with the U.S. consulate in Vancouver, I did not anticipate problems in getting a visa, boarding my flight and delving into Mark Twain’s Life on the Mississippi as the aircraft took off. I carried with me what I believed to be adequate paperwork, including my old work visa, a new passport and a fat file of documents pertaining to my Jacksonville project.”

“The Customs officer who examined my paperwork seemed to distrust me immediately. He asked me a number of questions about my activities in the U.S., and scoffed at my answers. I couldn’t say anything to satisfy him. Then he said, ‘You tell me you’re a librarian. You don’t look like a librarian. No, you don’t. I’m refusing you entry to the United States.’ He sent me back to the airline counter, where a frazzled attendant told me that these days many people are turned back at the border.”

“ ‘It’s all about 9/11, you know. If the Customs boys don’t like you, they won’t let you through. I’m sorry sir.’ She sounded as though she often said the same thing to flustered, middle-aged men whose crime it was to look like something other than a librarian.”

This accords with one of my own recent experiences at the border. I was traveling down to my favorite used bookstore, Henderson's, in Bellingham, Washington. The border guard asked me the purpose of my trip. “I am going to Henderson's, a used bookstore in Bellingham.” “Why,” he inquired, “don’t they have used bookstores in Vancouver?”

One of Guy’s students in the library technician program at Langara College suggested that he might try the following the next time he attempts to board a plane to the U.S.:

“ ‘You’ve got to wear glasses,’ said Jessica. ‘Get a pair with a broken bridge between the lenses, and wrap the break with masking tape. Look dorky, but not dumb. And get some dandruff. It helps.’”

The full text of the article in online and may be accessed here, or just Google “Feliciter: Keeping Up Appearances.”

No comments:

Post a Comment