On my recent flight to Scotland I got pretty confused and upset. It all started when they handed out the landing cards and I noticed the question “Occupation/Profession.” I realized I had no idea how to answer this question, after so many years of certainty, and, also, that it felt completely limiting.
I wondered, should I write, “Trying to figure it out” or would customs be upset about that? It was the honest answer but I feared detention in some small cell while they tried to scare the answer out of me. In hindsight, perhaps this could have helped me? 😮
Also, I don’t like the word “Occupation” it’s too close to “Preoccupation” – so if you’re asking what I’m busy with, well, that’s a long answer and there isn’t enough space to write it on this fucking landing card! And it made it sound like every person in the world is supposed to have one, as if this definition is of utmost importance to being human. (By the way, I wonder what spies write in this field?)
So, when I arrived at the customs agent, I decided to be honest. When she asked what I was doing, I told her I’m trying to figure my life out, but not to worry because I am leaving the UK in July. The conversation went something like this:
Customs agent: “Why are you here?”
Me: “To figure my life out, see cows, and the Highlands.”
“How long are you staying?” with a slightly raised eyebrow. And, after giving my dates, she replied, “You have the ticket to leave then?”
“Um, well, no, because I’m taking the train, but I can book them now if you like?”
I believe she spent much of the conversation trying to figure out if I was crazy and should be arrested, and, when she realized there was nothing I was doing that was breaking the law, decided I was ok to admit because she couldn’t detain me…so then I asked her where in Scotland I could go to see Highland Cows and the Highlands and we had a wonderful chat.
So, perhaps my occupation should be “Smartass”?