Monday, July 1, 2013


On the flight from L.A. to Australia they hand you a skinny yellow card and tell you to fill it out, declaring stuff. Do you have any fruit, nuts, porn, or chicken poop on your shoes? And you’d better, by golly, fess up or they fine you—big hefty bucks.

Honesty is the cheapest policy.

So we declared. No fruit. No nuts. No porn. But things got hinky with the chicken poop question. Well, actually it was more a question of possible exposure to chicken poop.

The question that tripped us up?

Have you within the last thirty days been exposed to animals that poop or produce assorted dingle berries in a rural setting?  (I’m paraphrasing.)

The answer was a resounding, “You bet. Why just this morning or yesterday morning or tomorrow morning before the world turned on its axis, we were hip deep in animals that poop.” We checked the box for yes.

In Australia, railing through the immigration and customs line, holding our skinny yellow card at the ready we prepared to declare our familiarity with organic farm animal by-product.

A pre-screener, a lovely woman of possible Asian descent, took our skinny yellow card, made note of our honesty on question number ten or maybe it was twelve and declared us quarantined, but not before looking at our shoes with squinty eyes.

Panicked, my husband, scrambled to explain our damning poop answer, “We have horses. They poop. We had to feed them before we left Florida, thus the reason for their pooping—all the feeding and eating. The horses not us.” Sweat broke out on his forehead.

I stroked his arm, calming him, and said, “I think she just wants to make sure we haven’t brought our muck-out boots or packed bags of manure in our luggage. That’s all.”

The pre-screener squinted harder at our shoes, made a check on our card, and then pointed us to the quarantine area.

An official of the Australian immigration and customs department squinted some more at our shoes, quizzed us on our manure exposure, possibly sniffed us, laughed a bit when we declared our bodies poop free, stamped our card, and then waved us through the door into the great down under.

On the trip from Sidney to Melbourne, the third plane ride of our twenty-seven hour global trip, I got a bit punch drunk and started to laugh. Snorting through my nose, I leaned over and confessed, “Babe, I hate to admit this, but I think I might have had some chicken sh*t on my shoes, but I was afraid to say anything.”

Horrified, he clamped his hand over my mouth. I licked the palm of his hand. He let me go.

“Kidding! I’m just kidding. But wouldn’t that be crazy to be locked up abroad for contraband chicken poo shoes?” I looked deep in his eyes. “Hey, it may not be a sixty million dollar Air Force One trip on the taxpayer’s dime, but it’s already been quite an adventure.”

He winked. I smiled. And then I double-checked the bottom of my shoes just to be sure I wasn’t breaking quarantine or smuggling dingle berries.

Linda (All Clear) Zern



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