And what a noble job they do. – The men and women protecing our borders from myriad unknown threats. Dangerous diseases, drug dealers, exotic pests, foreigners. Hell, lets hope that they’d not be imagining some of them right? All them waiting on the inside of our country’s metaphorical door, with an outstretched foot, ready to trip up any unsuspecting no-gooders. No doubt armed like police – with a diluted book of rules to refer to and throw down, and not a scerric of common-sense to be found.
A friend of mine was recently held at customs upon returning to Australia. Obviously he fitted into the right ‘category’ (whatever that implies) to be apprehended and have his entire travelling kit searched by yet another ever-vigilant, sensible, unprejudiced customs officer.
Well dressed, sporting a manicured, wax-twisted moustache, they must have thought it was glued on (perhaps from a picture beside the heading ‘types of fake moustache’ in their ‘Customs officer handbook 2010’) and been looking out for him.
You can almost sense their heart’s beat quickening in their chest, nervous at the prospect. “Look” their thoughts darted through their head “he’s been in Barcelona, Ibiza, Paris, France – all for short stays”. God, he must be a drug-dealer.
Never mind the fact that he’s just come from Dubai. (“God, he could even be a terrorist!”) One of the UAE’s ever-burgeoning police states, where Nurofen is illegal, and where people have their hands cut off for petty shoplifting.
See, these people aren’t allowed to use common sense. Moreso, they’re not even allowed to posses it. Leave it at the door when you start your training as a customs officer (or a police officer for that matter. In terms of the cops, you only need to appear slovenly and lazy enough).
The Australian Federal Police (because customs officers are really elite cops) will give you all the training, and the only rulebook you’ll ever need to be able to make rash, prejudiced decisions. If you’re too smart, you certainly wont fit the bill. Free thinkers are dangerous. Aren’t they?
One day, they will offer testing, training and pay appropriate enough to attract the intelligent and the sensible into the jobs we allocate for people to protect our societies.
Police will no longer be the power-tripping, stantion-wielding fat kid, who got teased endlessly at school, and sees the kid who bullied him in grade 3 in everyone’s face. They’ll use common sense, guided by police rules, written by ethical, unbiased points of view and a sense that they really are protecting the community – not just ‘enforcing’ an uninterpretable set of rules.
Customs officers will be educated, scholared folk, who didnt drop out in grade, ten, who have travelled widely (not just imagined it, or seen people who do) and can recognise nationalities genuinely, at a glance, and dont imagine theme music and camera crews filming them, like all the latest tv shows where they learn their interrogation and policing techniques from. – Did i hear someone say propoganda?
And then i woke from my dream and continued writing.
Right now, our borders are protected by people who feel it necessary to rifle through every single thing you travel with, on the suspicion of what? – That you brought back something contraband from Europe, through Dubai of all places? – Are you serious?
Maybe its all the alternate answers she had swirling in her head. For example: “What sort of work do you do?” – To which my friend replied “Im a marketing manager” – to which she replied “How long have you owned the club?” – Makes sense right? What?
Maybe its the photos she looked through – each and every single one of them – that my friend was carrying, in memory of times gone by with him, his family and their ailing grandfather? Photos that would bring educated comments like “that looks pretty orthodox” (never mind the stars of David my friend was wearing, he just likes fancy silver jewellry) of his brother’s bar mitzvar, like its some kind of fancy dress party that they took too far.
I wonder if they are all that disullusioned or semi-paranoid all the time? It is this clarity of mind that must help them to make such bold and thoughtful decisions when it comes to protecting our borders.
Shit. They’re here now. And ive got a moustache too! – How will i ever explain myself. – I told you free thinkers were dangerous! Help!