Landing in Italy

Having never traveled out of the country before, I wasn’t really sure what to expect from Customs. On the one hand, I’ve seen shows like C.O.P.S. and 48 Hours where Customs finds big caches of drugs and other contraband, a friend of mine’s business was involved in some elaborate Customs clearance issue for not having the right form, and I remember watching some soldiers clear customs on a military base where they pretty much unpacked everything in a hangar and went through it. Apparently, that just doesn’t happen.

After we got off our plane, we stood in a huge mob of people for “passport control.” When I got to the booth, I handed the agent my passport. She spent, maybe, 400 milliseconds looking at the photo, putting a worn out stamp in it and handing it back to me. She gave me the impression that stamping passports all day was as silly and annoying to her as standing in line was to us.

After passport control, we picked up our checked luggage, just like any domestic flight. From there, we went through Customs. As you walk down the Customs corridor there is a partition dividing the walk way. A sign above one side says “Items to declare” and the other says “Nothing to declare.” I have no idea if I have to declare anything or not, but it does not matter. Both sides lead to the same hallway where people are rushing through to get to wherever it is that they are going. There was no difference between one side an the other, apparently. People went through both sides without stopping and the two men in uniform just stood there with a dull expression on their face that said, “Oh, God, I hope none of these people are stupid enough to declare something. I might have to do paperwork.”

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