Washington Dulles Airport – I once worked for an American multi national company called “Peterson, Howell and Heather” or PHH as it was commonly known.  I was in charge of the I.T department of their operations in the UK and I regularly visited their headquarters on the East Coast.  Being a UK national, I was able to enter and leave the USA relatively easily courtesy of the visa waiver programme between the two countries.  After a 7-hour long and boring flight, we landed and made our way to immigration desks.  Like a modern supermarket, there were some 32 windows available, about 30 of them were for US citizens and the other two for all other nationalities; not the most welcoming arrangements, one might think.  So, two lines were populated by hundreds of people and the other 30 had time enough on their hands to rustle up a meal for all of us “other nationalities”, if they were that way inclined.  After half a millennium waiting time, it was my turn to step up to the counter to present my passport and have it stamped so I may be allowed to enter the country and go about my legitimate business.  Before I recount my short conversation with the middle-aged, bored and miserable immigration officer, I must declare a philosophy of mine: I don’t like officialdom at all, anyone who has the right to stop me and ask questions while busily writing on pieces of papers is no friend of mine.  Since I have no choice but to answer, no matter how ridiculous or banal the questions are, I just give short and direct answers with deadpan attitude.  I never exchange pleasantries, joke, give long answers or elaborate in any shape or form; just answer the question as it is put to me, hoping the entire ordeal is short and painless.  Occasionally, this tactic backfires….

Officer: Passport please

I hand over my passport helpfully open at the picture / detail page

Officer: where did you come from?

Me: the UK

Officer: where are you staying?

Me: Marriot Hotel, D.C

Officer: What is the purpose of your visit?

Me: I have business meetings

Officer: where are these meetings taking place?

Me: at our company HQ

Officer: what is the name of your company?

Me: PHH Inc.

Officer: What is the nature of your job at PHH Inc.?

Me: I am in IT

Officer (sarcastically): Oh really?

Me: Yes

Officer: now, are you going to explain to me what “Eye Teee” stands for or shall I try and figure it out for myself?

Me (with hackles up): it is entirely up to you, you can guess or I can tell you.

Officer: why don’t you tell me so this way we save a lot of time?

Me: it stands for Information Technology

Officer: there now, isn’t this better? You know, it would be so much better if you use full words when you talk to people instead of just using initials; it makes them like you a lot more that way.

Me: really?  How come you are using full words and I already don’t like you?

Officer (stamping my passport): well now, we seem to have understood each other very well today, enjoy your stay in the Yoo Ess Aih.

I walked away thinking to myself: I lied, I actually liked the guy!