My husband and I were waiting for our luggage at LAX after an 11-hour return flight from Paris. Lulled by the sight of the bags going around and around, I waited for ours to appear. Suddenly, I was jarred from my near-daze by the sight of a loose dog dragging a leash. Like any dog trainer worth her salt, my reflexes took over. Within seconds I stood proudly, foot on leash, potential dog disaster averted. Only then did I notice the dog was wearing a vest, and the “owner” the beagle had gotten away from was wearing a uniform too—that of a Customs officer; a none-too-pleased customs officer, who had let the dog loose to do his sniffing. I apologized and went back to wait for my luggage.
Minutes later, the dog and officer approached our area and all passengers were ordered to place shoulder bags and carry-ons on the ground. I watched in admiration as the beagle dutifully walked from one bag to the next, every now and then alerting the officer by placing a paw on a bag, the officer rewarding the dog with a treat. I was lost in musings of how nice it was that this dog, who looked to be at least seven years old, could have a nice, long career doing this type of work. Aww. The dog was alerting again, what a good dog. No….wait! That’s my bag!
“Do you have any food in the bag, ma’am?”
Okay, honestly? At that moment I was thinking, it’s a beagle, for crying out loud. I could have Crumbs of Sandwiches Past in that bag and a beagle would alert…
“I have some granola bars,” I answered honestly.
“What about fruit? Are you carrying any fruit?”
“No, no fruit.”
“Are you sure you’re not carrying any fruit?”
Suddenly I remembered the banana—the one that, approximately fifteen hours before, had seemed like a great idea to stuff into my carry-on. Only I’d completely forgotten it was there. Did I mention the 11-hour flight?
“Oh…uh…sorry, I do have a banana. I’m happy to throw it away.”
Shooting me a look that can only be described as the visual equivalent of a collar correction, the officer snatched the landing card from my hands and scrawled BANANA across it in large letters, to mark me as the fruit-carrying criminal I was.
As we continued to wait for our luggage, my husband and I laughed about my being busted by a beagle. In fact, it seemed amusing enough to blog about. And what’s a blog without a photo? Hmm, I thought, I’ll just grab my iphone and take a quick photo. My husband pointed out the dog and officer across the way, still hard at work. I walked up and aimed my camera-phone at the pair.
The officer spied me immediately and put a hand up. “No photos,” she snapped.
Clearly this woman was not a fan of mine. But perhaps she just didn’t want to be on camera? “Can I just take one of the dog doing his job?” I asked.
“No. We can’t have photos in here. We don’t want terrorists taking photos of the Customs area.”
Obviously the Banana Caper had marked me as a threat to national security. Or at least a giant irritation. “Okay, no problem,” I answered, and slunk away.
After picking up our luggage, we reported to the red zone area so my suspicious bag could be x-rayed. The offending banana was placed in the trash, paperwork was filled out, and, finally, we were free to go. I silently bid a fond farewell to the hard-working beagle and headed for home.