Going The “Extra (S)mile”…

I’ve gotten to wondering if there is maybe an unspoken rule that Immigration officers in airports have to be unsmiling and stern. Like, would it hurt to be welcoming and smile at the people who have to pass through you? Seriously.

On my recent trip out of the country, there were three counters for the immigration check that I had to pass through at the NAIA (Ninoy Aquino International Airport) Terminal 3.

Three of us joined the queue on the first counter, the other three on the second, and I went solo on the third counter. One of my companions said the officer behind the window I am queuing at looks “antipatiko” or unfriendly and disagreeable. Sure enough, he wasn’t smiling. He looked… stern and uncompromising.

Then my turn came.

I smiled, said “Good evening”, and handed my passport, along with my papers, with my Authority to Travel, duly signed by the Mayor, on top.

He rifled through the documents, then started asking questions in a monotone.

Am I with a group? (Yes.) Does the group include the Mayor? (Er, no.) Does everyone in the group belong to the same agency? (No. Three are from the Province, three from LGU-La Trinidad, and me from LGU-Baguio.)

More rifling through papers, then checking his computer.

Then he said,

“Next time….”

Oh, sh*t, now what?

“…bring strawberries, some strawberry jam and peanut brittle with you, OK?”

And then….. A SMILE.


See? That wasn’t so hard, was it?