Customs Quickie

Scene: The green channel at an airport; a few people are walking through. A customs officer is standing to one side of the exit gate. A woman passes through carrying a briefcase; she is abot 28 years old, very smartly dressed in a dark business suit and obviously some sort of executive. The customs officer approaches her.

Customs Officer: EXCUSE ME, MADAM, YOU DO REALISE YOU HAVE JUST PASSED THROUGH THE GREEN CHANNEL?

Woman: (Stopping and looking up; she is a little annoyed) YES.

Customs Officer: AND YOU HAVE NOTHING TO DECLARE?

Woman: NO.

Customs Officer: I WONDER IF YOUíD MIND STEPPING THIS WAY PLEASE. (He gestures to a table).

Woman: (Displeased) OH, VERY WELL.

(They walk over to a table and he holds out his hand for her case, which she passes to him).

Customs Officer: IS THIS YOUR BRIEFCASE, MADAM?

Woman: YES.

Customs Officer: (Putting it on the table and walking round the other side). DID YOU PACK IT YOURSELF?

Woman: YES.

Customs Officer: (He opens it and looks through it briefly) THIS WONíT TAKE A MINUTE, MADAM.

Woman: OF COURSE.

Customs Officer: (Closing the case) MAY I SEE YOUR PASSPORT, MADAM?

Woman: YES. (She takes her passport out of her jacket pocket, and hands it to him).

Customs Officer: (Opening it) MRS CLEAL. (Pauses) MAY I ASK YOUR DATE OF BIRTH, MRS CLEAL?

Woman: THE 9th OF OCTOBER, NINETEEN-SIXTY.

Customs Officer: AND WHERE ARE YOU TRAVELLING FROM?

Woman: NEW YORK.

Customs Officer: (Closing the passport and handing it back). BUSINESS TRIP?

Woman: YES, IíM A DESIGN CONSULTANT.

Customs Officer: (Looking at his watch) ARE YOU IN A HURRY, MRS CLEAL?

Woman: A LITTLE. I HAVE A TRAIN TO CATCH AT FOUR THIRTY.

Customs Officer: AND WHAT TIME IS IT NOW? MY WATCH SEEMS TO HAVE STOPPED.

Woman: (Looking at her watch) A QUARTER TO.

Customs Officer: THATíS A NICE WATCH, MAY I SEE IT?

Woman: (Holding out her wrist) ITíS A QUARTZTIME (smiling).

Customs Officer: (Curious) EXPENSIVE ARENíT THEY, íBOUT A THOUSAND POUNDS?

Woman: EIGHTEEN HUNDRED DOLLARS.

Customs Officer: BOUGHT IT IN NEW YORK, DID YOU?

Woman: YES, IíVE HAD IT A WHILE.

Customs Officer: YOU HAVE A RECEIPT, OF COURSE?

Woman: (Looking slightly concerned) NO (pause) WELL, NOT ON ME.

Customs Officer: (Suspiciously) SO YOU CANíT PROVE YOUíVE PAID THE DUTY ON IT?

Woman: I HAVE.

Customs Officer: BUT CAN YOU PROVE IT?

Woman: WELL, NOT HERE AND NOW.

Customs Officer: (Becoming very officious) THEN IíM AFRAID IíLL HAVE TO ASK YOU TO PAY THE DUTY ON IT.

Woman: BUT I HAVE, OVER A YEAR AGO.

Customs Officer: IíM AFRAID THATíS THE LAW, MADAM. IF YOU CANíT PROVE YOUíVE PAID...

Woman: (Interrupting) BUT THIS IS ABSURD.

Customs Officer: IíLL GET YOU A FORM FROM THE OFFICE; ITíLL ONLY TAKE ABOUT TWENTY MINUTES.

Woman: TWENTY MINUTES!? (With disbelief) BUT IíLL MISS MY TRAIN! (Her voice is rising and becoming a little panicky).

Customs Officer: (Smiling) IíM AFRAID THAT CANíT BE HELPED, MADAM.

Woman: BUT THIS IS ABSURD; I PAID THE DUTY ON THIS WATCH LAST YEAR.

Customs Officer: THATíS WHAT YOU SAY, MADAM.

Woman: (Becoming flustered) WHAT I SAY? ARE YOU CALLING ME A LIAR?

Customs Officer: IF YOU WANT TO PAY THE DUTY ON THE WATCH IíLL FETCH YOU A FORM; THATíLL TAKE ABOUT TWENTY MINUTES. IF NOT IíLL HAVE TO CONFISCATE IT AS SUSPECTED CONTRABAND.

Woman: (Removing the watch from her wrist) HERE, KEEP THE BLOODY WATCH IF ITíS SO IMPORTANT TO YOU (flinging it down on the table).

Customs Officer: VERY WELL, MADAM. IF YOUíD JUST LIKE TO WAIT HERE FOR HALF AN HOUR WHILE I GET YOU A RECEIPT.

Woman: HALF AN HOUR! (She is left open-mouthed and speechless. Then she picks up her briefcase, grunts and storms off. The customs man watches her pass through the exit doors, then gives a self-satisfied smirk).

(Scene: A corridor. At the end is a door marked MESS ROOM. The customs officer walks down the corridor, opens the mess room door, and walks in. Sitting at a table drinking coffee are two other customs men. One of them looks up as he enters).

Second Customs Officer: (To first) HELLO JIM. PICK UP ANYTHING DECENT THIS AFTERNOON?

First Customs Officer: YEAH, GOT A NICE LADYíS QUARTZTIME WATCH OFF SOME YUPPY BIRD. STROPPY LITTLE TART SHE WAS, TOO.

Third Customs Officer: LUCKY FOR SOME, ALL I GOT WAS A COUPLE OF BOTTLES OF RUM AND A FEW LOUSY JOINTS.

Second Customs Officer: DONíT SUPPOSE YOU WANNA SWAP THAT WATCH FOR A PAIR OF DIAMOND CUFF LINKS?

First Customs Officer: NAH, I PROMISED THE WIFE IíD GET HER ONE FOR HER BIRTHDAY.

(End).

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