Awright Den! Officer not NISE
Last Sunday evening, I had a horrible experience at the airport after I arrived back home from a very long flight and transit from Israel.
Before I share the horrible experience, let me say that the greeting and service provided by the customs officer who took my customs declaration form was commendable and warm. I can’t remember her name, all I remember is that she wore braces. I ask that you do not judge all customs officers by the experience below.
I exited customs and waited outside for a friend to pick me up. While waiting I realized I had left my carry-on suitcase in the baggage claim area. I explained my situation to one of the security personnel outside and he said to me that after I packed my luggage into the car, he would allow me to go back through to retrieve the bag.
After packing the car I went to the security officer. He asked me if I had my passport and we were on our way. He instructed me to go through this door, go to customs and explain my situation. I entered an area, which had about four customs officers and proceeded to explain my situation. I said that I just arrived on a British Airways flight and after clearing customs realized I forgot my carry-on so I spoke to a security officer who told me to come here.
A female customs officer with an aggressive, unprofessional, sour and bitter attitude in a cold and unwelcoming voice and tone barked at me, ‘nuh security can sen you in hey, guh outside, guh back outside’. I raised my hands, palms facing out in a surrender position and said, “excuse me mam, there is no need to be so aggressive, there is no need to get on like this”. The customs officer proceeded to walk towards me telling me to leave and she will get an agent to come to me.
When I fully exited, I could see the shock and disappointment on the face of the security officer who had initially directed me. The security officer told me to go to British Airways and explain the situation to them, as he doubts the customs officer would honour her word in getting an agent to come to me. Even though I believed him, I was feeling a bit optimistic and waited 5-10 minutes to see if an agent would indeed come.
After waiting and seeing no BA agent I proceeded to the check-in area and explained my situation. In less than 3 minutes an agent from BA came to me and we walked back to the customs area. When we entered I looked at the same bitter customs officer and said, “Hi, I’m back”. She didn’t respond neither did she look at me but gently and warmly greeted the British Airways agent. The agent explained to the same customs officer my situation and the officer responded, “I know ’bout he”.
I said, “there was no reason for you to behave the way you did before” and the customs officer transformed back into her bitter, sour and aggressive attitude and said to me, “if I tell you go out, you got to go out”. I said, but you didn’t have to speak to me the way you did. She continued, “fuh right now, keep you mout shut in hey, once you in hey I aint want to hear nutting from you.” I smiled and said, that is not a problem, but read next Thursday’s NATION newspaper.
I want to encourage you who work in customer service-oriented jobs to understand that after you take off your uniforms, you are just an ordinary citizen. That customs officer who barked at me may turn up to the bank for a loan and see me; or ask for a nurse while admitted to hospital and see me; or call for a taxi and see me; or show up at form level meeting and see me; or call for a plumber and see me.
All I am asking is that you treat every person you meet with respect, fairness and kindness, as you may need to depend on them in the near future.• Corey Worrell is a former Commonwealth youth ambassador. Email [email protected]