Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Face of a drug smuggler????

When one has traveled for almost three weeks and on the last day journeyed by car and plane for thirteen hours, the last thing one wishes is to be pulled out by the anti narcotics to be told "you are randomly selected for a drug test."

That was exactly what happened to me when I was transiting in Brisbane, Australia Airport on my way back to Auckland. The Royal Brunei plane arrived in Brisbane around mid night. Sam and I went through the normal check, and then a plain clothes man and woman told me to come this way.

They said those words," You are randomly selected..... " and showed me a laminated A4 sheet which stated my rights in English. They asked if I needed an interpreter.

I have been an avid watcher of the Australian Border watch, and wonder why on earth they think I, a fifty something old woman, would want to smuggle drugs with a 13 year old son. They said, I could refuse, but there will be consequences. They had this scanner like machine which went through my back pack, then scrapped at a corner and went to the machine which of course showed there was nothing. Then they had the woman pat me down. It was very humiliating, an experience I won't wish on anyone. If you watch TV, you will know what I mean. You lift your hands up ninety degrees, legs apart and the woman pat you all over.

I wanted to scream I am a New Zealander and I want to contact my two lawyer brothers who live in Australia. But then, of course they were just doing their job. Except I think they didn't choose a very good candidate to be a drug smuggler. It left a bitter taste to what was otherwise a wonderful holiday. I told Sam that I am an aspiring writer, and this has given me fodder to write an unusual event.

These two photos were taken at the Brisbane airport after my ordeal. I had wanted to turn back and ask if I would be watching myself on New Zealand TV or if I could take their photos for my blog, but I didn't think they would oblige.

I lived in Singapore for 16 years and am fully aware that drug trafficking there results in death penalty. I thought of the Australian woman Corby Schapelle. Corby was convicted and imprisoned in Bali, Indonesia for drug smuggling. Corby is serving a 20-year sentence and has maintained that the drugs were planted in her boogie board bag and that she did not know about them.

What was in my mind when I was told to accompany them to the search room? What if I was like Corby, and some one had planted drugs in my bag?


Q said...

How terrible for you!
I agree good material for writing...still I can think of other things one would want to write about.
Do hope you had fun on your holiday and this will be Funny in ten years????

Bagman and Butler said...

Drugs are bad, yes. Terrorism is bad, yes. But the stuff we do to protect ourselves from all these evils is positively overkill.

~JarieLyn~ said...

What an ordeal! Glad you made it home. Freedom at last!

jay said...

I have been 'randomly selected' for extra security checks twice. I didn't find it humiliating (as you say, they're only doing their job) but it is tedious and irritating and the very last thing you want to hear on a long and difficult flight, for sure.

Roger Owen Green said...

In the US, someone came up w a great quote for security, which unfortunately escapes me. But basically, it's all cosmetic and really does little to nothing about actual terror.

That said, you SHOULD have asked for a copy of the pic

Jama said...

What an experience! I think I would freak out first.

NanU said...

I'm sorry you had to go through that, and also that it remains such a humiliating experience.
But if you're going to have random checks against drug smuggling at all, you really shouldn't excuse people on the basis of not 'looking' like a candidate. Those people quickly become exactly the best candidates!

Do have a great vacation!

Julie said...

I guess when you hear about 80 year old gramma's smuggling drugs in for a grandson you can kind of understand but how invasive. It will give you a good plot for a story though.

Anonymous said...

what an experience. hope you had a great holiday!

Lavender and Vanilla Friends of the Gardens said...

Hi Ann; I had a similar experience but not as drastic. I was flying with my daughter and my then 16 year old grandson to Cairns. At Brisbane airport they scanned me. My grandson laughed because they scanned grandma!

Pearl Maple said...

Bummers about the extra attention why transiting Australia. As much as I find these thing annoying (you think this 50+ year old knitting granny is a drug runner?) if it keeps our community safe I'll put up with it.

Lovely post about Teddy Kennedy.

Hope that flu has a quick cure.

GingerV said...

I guess we have to protect ourselves by keeping tight control of our carry ons. I was STRIP searched once when leaving Bolivia for Brasil. literally wearched everywhere, I found it someowhat amusing (was 50 at the time and look like everyone's grandmother) but what was funny was when I went into the exam room to strip I left my backpack out on the floor by the bench when I cam out I hefted it over my shoulder - no one ever looked in it, so much for a drug search! comes down to herassment because I was American.

Ann, Chen Jie Xue 陈洁雪 said...

This post has generated a lot of lovely comment. Thank you all.

Once, after 9/11 when searching was very thorough, Sam and I had flown 5 flights, and on the 5th flight, they found his Swiss knife in his back back. I had absent mindedly put it in there before the beginning of our trip.

Top prize goes to GingerV for her stripsearch experience.

Anyone else to join the club?



It is is beautiful spring sunday morning. I wish you warmth.

deb said...

How aweful for you! I sure wouldn't like airports anymore either. Not sure if I would be able to keep it together long enough for it to be over, which would just make me look more suspicious. Glad you 2 made it home safely. Very upsetting to have this mar a wonderful getaway.
Thank you for visiting, and commenting, much appreciated :~)
Have a great weekend!

Roger Owen Green said...

I've only been extra screened once. Do these "random" screenings make us more safe? I don't think so.

??? said...

I was picked once when leaving the UK and had to empty my complete baggage ect. But it was kind of fun nonetheless - I had this huge TARDIS cookiejar I was bringing home and when they discovered it, one of the women positively squealed: Oooh, it's a TARDIS! They still were throrough in their search of my stuff, but at least we had a nice Doctor Who fangirl chat to go with it.