Monday, September 17, 2012

Welcome to Chicago

I mentioned in a previous post that we were greeted not so warmly by some TSA, Customs and Immigrations officers when we arrived in Chicago.  Maybe we were a bit sensitive having been awake and traveling for over 24 hours but does it really take that much effort to be polite?  Having just flown from China to Hong Kong where even though there was a language barrier everyone was very polite and helpful to us.  Even the man in the Hong Kong airport who pointed an odd looking gun point blank at Cameron's forehead was polite.  The gun turned out to be some type of thermometer, probably a SARS related precaution.

Rude Immigration officer #1

So we had just deplaned in Chicago and had to go through immigration and security to board our next flight home to Boston in a few hours.  We each had a backpack and a bag, Cameron was in a stroller and we were dragging Grace sleepily along behind us.  When we got to the customs and immigration checkpoint we were faced with a couple flights of stairs and an escalator.  I turned around and asked the immigration officer at the desk if there was an elevator we could use.  She barely looked at me to acknowledge me and said "Nope" and went back to whatever she was doing.  Jen and I kind of looked at each other incredulously and one of us sarcastically said “Welcome to the USA”.  

Rude Immigration Officer #2 and #3

One we made it through the first step in immigration we had to hand over our brown envelope from the US Consulate so they can process our paperwork.  This usually takes a little while but we were in no rush.  There was another couple who had adopted a child from China as well who were waiting with us who were in a rush as they had a flight that they needed to catch in less than an hour.  As we were waiting the immigration officer processing our paperwork announced that he was going on break and would be back in 10 or 15 minutes.  The woman waiting with walked up to the other immigration officer, told him that they had a flight that they needed to catch and asked if she was going to be able to catch her flight in less than an hour.  The immigration officer didn't even look up at her, he just shrugged his shoulders.  She walked away looking pretty irritated and sarcastically said to her husband "Welcome to America".

Rude TSA employee #1

Once we were through Customs and Immigration we just needed to get through security, grab a burger and a beer and take on last flight home.  By this time Cameron was sleeping in his stroller.  We got through the metal detectors and x-rays easy enough and were trying to get Cameron back into the stroller, put our shoes back on move on when a TSA officer came charging up to me and barked that I needed to keep the aisle clear.  Apparently our new sleeping baby Cameron in his stroller was blocking the aisle while we were putting our shoes back on and packing back up.  I not so nicely told the Mr. TSA officer to give us a break we have a baby, and we were moving as fast as we can.  He then told me the aisle needs to stay clear there were people that were waiting to pass through.  Which there in fact were not.  At this point I just glared at him and he glared back.   I fully expected to be pulled into some back room and strip searched, luckily he moved on and so did we.

As rude as these TSA, customs and Immigrations officers were to us Americans the way they were treating the non-us citizens was abhorrent.  We saw people talked down to and pretty much treated as sub-human.   It wasn't all bad though, the immigrations officer that checked our passports and took our brown envelope was very nice.  She got that it was a big deal that Cameron had just become a US citizen and congratulated us.  She talked to Grace and seemed genuinely nice and happy to do her job.  I realize that it is just a job for these people but you kind of expect a little smile and some common courtesy from people who deal with the public.  Kind of sad that we were treated better overseas than we were when we got home to USA

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