Friday, 16 December 2016

Anything to Declare?


Returning home from the United States after our recent holiday, we had to go through Canada Customs at Vancouver. When you are out of the country for more than 7 days, you can bring back $800 worth of purchases without paying any Canadian duty or taxes on them.

While on the airplane, I dutifully filled out my declaration paperwork in preparation for landing. I had $800 worth of purchases, if I didn't declare my new tattoo. If I declared it, it would put me at $1100 and I'd have to pay on the excess. Being scrupulously honest (of course!), I declared it.

So in Vancouver I was shunted off to a special line for miscreants who had exceeded their purchase allowances. I had to deal with a (*gulp*) Customs Officer. There she sat in uniform, in a booth behind glass, giving me the evil eye. And she was such a cutie! She reminded me of the adorably chubby RCMP Constable with the baby bear in that viral internet photo of a few years ago --


I probably had the same hangdog look on my face as the baby bear.

"What kinds of purchases did you make in the United States?" She looked up from my paperwork.

"Well, you know," I gestured vaguely in the air, "touristy stuff."

"Like what?" Officer Cutie demanded.

"Oh, knick-knacks, cards, t-shirts, that kind of thing." I was jet-lagged and couldn't for the life of me remember what I had bought.

"I find it very hard to believe that anyone could spend $1100 dollars on items like that." Her voice was frosty and her evil eye grew more accusatory.

"Really?" I was gobsmacked. I thought I had, in fact, shown great shopping restraint while I was in Maui.

Then I remembered what I had been so careful to bring along in my purse.

"Here's an itemized list of all my purchases, with receipts attached, if you want to look at it," I said and handed it to her.

I've always been an organized, OCD kinda gal. I caught Officer Cutie off-guard with my meticulous list, I just know it. She was much friendlier after that.

She read it and said, "Tattoo?"

"Yes, that's what puts me over the limit."

"I've never had anyone declare a tattoo before."

"Well," I said helpfully, "I know that when you go to the States and pay for services like dental work or auto repairs, you have to declare it at the border."

"Yes, or if you get prescription glasses or a boob job," she agreed.

"So I figured I'd better declare my tattoo," I chirped.

Officer Cutie paused.

"I think it's arguable that, unlike those other examples, tattooing does not constitute a service resulting in an enhancement or an improvement, as the legislation requires in order for it to be a declarable item," she said.

It was my turn to pause.

"Well, yes, I suppose you could be right," I reluctantly conceded, remembering how not everyone thinks well of tattoos.

"I'm removing it from your list as a non-declarable item. Now you do not exceed the allowable purchase limit, so no taxes or duty are payable."

She stamped my form and gave me a sweet smile.

I'd like to tell you that I blew her a kiss and said "Thanks, Officer Cutie!" but of course I did nothing of the kind. I just high-tailed it out of there before she changed her mind.

43 comments:

strangelynaked.com said...

That officer was looking for an excuse to not do paperwork and you gave her that golden opportunity. Also, honesty to a fault, lady. Keep that tattoo talk on the DL and don't pay duty. You weren't importing things that you were going to sell later. That's all they're looking for. Thank you for illustrating that honesty is not always the best policy.

LL Cool Joe said...

You should have said to her "Oh no aren't you going to handcuff me?" With a wink.

Bob Slatten said...

I agree with StrangelyNaked ... she was trying to avoid the bureaucracy of all that Tat Paperwork!

Mark said...

I don't think I would have declared a tattoo and I would have been pretty surprised if this story ended differently. It's good you were honest though. Better still that you didn't have to pay anything.

wenda j said...

I think you did the right thing, if you hadn't it would had niggled at you. I think she did the right thing as well,so many officers of this wonderful are not out to get the average Joe. But the average Joe is often out to get the officer. Some things are just so damn sad.

AntiquityTravelers said...

what a fun story! with such a happy ending. Perhaps I missed the post ... but now I'm wondering what the new tattoo looks like :O

DEZMOND said...

what was that bear doing at the customs?

bj said...

well, you dear sweet maybe TOO truthful Deborah.....Ha....
I just think it was very VERY rude of Cutie Pie to say a tattoo wasn't an enhancement...I mean, like you said, a lot of people don't care for tattoos but I would never say something like that to a tattooed person..."if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all" was taught to me as a child. I guess she thought saving you the tax was her good deed for the day....
Oh, well...at least YOU know you were truthful and you got off not having to pay the tax...
(my hubby says I always read a lot more into something than is really there..)
and the only reason I wAs able to resist that warm loaf of Banana bread...I had a cherry pie to fall back on....:)

Adam said...

Good thing she doesn't work for Trump. He's told everyone one type of behavior is A-ok for his people.

Willym said...

Funny that in all my years of travelling out of the country - 56 to be exact - I have never run into the sort of customs officer people talk about. I've brought back art work, an English dinner set for six, dogs - four times, now there's a bit of pre-arrival bureaucracy you don't want to experience - whole households and the odd knick knack with nary a problem. Okay there was that time when my friend Vicki declared the bullwhip she bought in Buffalo as a Christmas gift for her boyfriend but that was her problem I only had the large bottle of rum that time.

Did she ask to see the tattoo?

Debra She Who Seeks said...

@ Willym -- A bullwhip? Nice. No, Officer Cutie didn't ask to see the tattoo. Maybe she was afraid it was on my ass, lol!

The Happy Whisk said...

This was an enjoyable read. Officer Cutie. Hahah. Good stuff.

Miss Val's Creations said...

Great story! I would never think to declare a tattoo. It certainly makes for an entertaining experience!

Leeanna Henderson said...

Oh, you HUSSY. Flirtin with a Customs Cop. Tisk, tisk, tsik, you shameful hussy you.

Toni said...

Your honesty is commendable.

Do we get to see your new tat?

Debra She Who Seeks said...

@ Toni -- Oh yes! Just click on the blue link embedded in this post! And don't worry -- unlike my comment to Willym above, it's on my upper arm, lol!

MrsDuncanMahogany said...

Just once I would like to be asked that and then say yes, I do have something to declare. Then find a chair, stand on it and say - I declare that I love my animals, my family, cheese, tattoos and my Nissan Cube. But....the implications of that could be detrimental....

:)

Rosemary said...

They always say that honesty pays.

Marie Smith said...

We always keep receipts for any items we buy but we rarely buy anything anyway. I would never have thought a tattoo had to be declared. You are an honest person!

greekwitch said...

That was so Canadian of you!! Are you a Virgo or a Capricorn? Many hugs and kisses!!

Debra She Who Seeks said...

@ greekwitch -- You nailed it! VIRGO!

anne marie in philly said...

ahhhh declare, honey chile! (said in a southern US accent)

"officer cutie" - made me smile.

Janie Junebug said...

What a nice experience, thanks to Officer Cutie on duty.

Love,
Janie

Insomniac's Attic said...

Customs officers TERRIFY me! Even though I'm honest to a fault like you, they always make me feel like I'm lying. Once I got pulled over and forced to go through the 'special line' because I declared a piece of taxidermy I'd bought at a flea market. What kind of animal is it, he asked? Well, it's got the body of a weasel, claws of a crow, duck feet and some kind of bird wings - it's called a wolpertinger, I said. Well, is it dead? Oh yes, it's taxidermied, I replied. Well, that's fine then - you can go. I'd like to credit my good fortune to the lady ahead of me in line from Somalia who had brought in bags and bags of dirt with her. That seemed to set off their radar a lot more than my little wolpertinger. Poor woman. lol

Birdie said...

Now you got me singing, Number Nine Cutie....
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Fsdji0HmoRk

Plowing Through Life (Martha) said...

Oh you miscreant, you :) It sounds like you were both flirting. Perhaps cutie thought you were kind of cute, too.

baili said...

hahaha
i could not stop laughing as you described it with amazing humor .
thank God she gave up her efforts to put you on trial .
This post of your's is also quite informative for me as i was not aware of such rules .
i loved your Tattoo dear .it is GORGEOUS!

miruspeg said...

I LOVE the way you relate stories Debra.....you are a unique human being! And you have such a talent for winning officials over.
Keep shining my friend. Peggy xxxx

lady M said...

You must have put the biggest smile on that gals face. She had such a fun story to share with family that night!

bj said...

thanks for coming by to see my tiny tree..and, as always, your sweet comments makes me happy

Missy George said...

Ha..Great story..You were such a good girl..Love the picture of the poor bear..He looks so forlorn...

Jim said...

Yes, honesty is the BEST policy! I grew up with ringing in my head! Actually, it has proven true on a number of occasions.
Love your stories, Debra.

Rawknrobyn.blogspot.com said...

I take it Officer Cutie doesn't have a tattoo. I suppose also that she didn't ask to see yours. Her loss, but glad you let you slide on through.

Magaly Guerrero said...

Ask me how tempted am I to fictionalize this anecdote? Of course, the tattoo would probably be in a special spot... and there would definitely be a kiss. *cackles and giggles*

G. B. Miller said...

Declaring a tattoo, now that is original. :D

The Captain said...

I've seen those Canadian customs officers on "Border Security" (usually the only non-cooking show on TV on Saturday morning), they're quite intimidating.

Lynn said...

I don't think it would have occurred to me to declare a tattoo! That was very honest of you and I'm so glad Officer Cutie let you go without declaring it. Love this post. :)

Fundy Blue said...

LOL! Not an enhancement nor an improvement! You are the epitome of honesty, Debra! Canadian Customs is the best! I have a LOT of experience with them. At least she didn't try to confiscate the tattoo!

Magic Love Crow said...

LOL! Debra, I can't stop laughing! This was one of your best posts ever! You are adorable! Honesty pays! So happy you had such a good officer! And, I am so happy she was a cutie too! LOL!
I'm a virgo too!

dbs said...

Thumbs way up! Great story.

Cheryl said...

That's really a fun story. I suspect you will be the one lone person to ever declare a tattoo. I would imagine most (if not all) people that do anything to enhance their bodies would keep quiet about it. I suspect a lot of new boobs go undeclared.

Guillaume said...

I generally hate custom officers, Canadian more because they are from my experience so damn rude.

Fearsome Beard said...

Wow. A list and receipts. I like you, I really like you!
Grin...