Sunday, February 19, 2012

One Bad Apple

This blog is the story of how I almost got thrown into a New Zealand jail over an apple.

Please enjoy my traumatic experience:
After flying all night on the plane, we finally landed in NZ. We (Carmen Small, Evie Stevens, and myself) went to go through customs and the baggage claim. When we got to baggage claim the other girls collected their bags and headed straight to customs. However, my bag took a long time to come through, and because of our tight layover, Carmen and Evie went ahead.
All the sudden, I feel little paws jumping on my backside; it was a little security/ search dog. The officer asked to go through my book bag, but she didn't find anything. I collected my bags and went on my way to go through security lines. As I put all of my luggage in to the X-Ray machine, an officer tells me to step aside. He talks to another officer, and then on his radio headpiece. He tells me to follow him and that he needs to ask me some questions and examine my bag. At this point, I realize I had an apple in my bag that I forgot to take out earlier and I knew that I was in big trouble now.
The officer took me in to this small room that smelled like a locker gym where I went to a different officer. My throat felt so tight and dry, if only I could have a sip of water, instead, I prepare myself for what the officer is going to tell me.
I am in such disbelief by what the officer says to me that the only word and I come up to respond with was "Huh?!". My stomach felt like it was going to fall out my butt. I started sweating bullets and my hands began to shake spontaneously. The temperature in the room escalates. I was determined to not pay any fine.
I told him that I do not have enough money to pay for the fine. He said "It's okay, you can pay $400 cash or credit," trying to make the situation better. He didn't quite understand when I told him that I didn't have enough money to pay, meant I didn't have enough cash nor did I have enough on my credit card! I tried to pull the excuse of I-am-just-a-minor.... but failed, even though I am 17 now, I am 18 at the end of the year. Great!
I asked him what happens if I do not have enough money. He replied that they will have to put me into a holding place until someone can bail me out. Jail?! I thought, there could be no way, this is not in my itinerary. How will I get in touch with anyone? I am going to miss my flight and Carmen and Evie will have no idea that I am going to end up in a jail in about 5 minutes. I'm really screwed now.
And then it hit me. The nervous sick feeling I had in my stomach, the shaky hands, the sweating bullets and tight throat all came out. I could no longer hold my feelings in. The emotions that I tried so hard to hold in during the interrogation and officer escort from the customs line came out. Tears started streaming down my face. I have no idea what is in store for me.
The short officer starts to talk on his headpiece. I can't understand what he is saying in his soft toned voice. Another officer comes into the scene. He tries to find a 'legal' way to let me go. Like an angel sent from God, he says that because the search dog from earlier did not find anything in my bag, than they would release me from the charges! "Great dog", I thought.
I am so overwhelmed, and relieved, that I get away with no charges. I try to pull myself together and put all the emotions of shock, embarrassment and fear away. I graciously thank both officers, and the short officer squeaks in "Lesson learned." I look at apples at a whole new way now, and my teammates keep offering me apples.
I got the heck out of there. Ran out side with my bike bag, a rolling suitcase, a small duffel bag and the backpack on my back. Probably one of the quickest transitions with all the luggage I had. I thought a miracle of making my next flight was going to come true! But sadly, I had to take a 10 minute shuttle bus to the domestic terminal, and of course, I just missed it.
When I got to the domestic terminal, the woman behind the counter sees me and says "We've been looking for you." Evie and Carmen had my name being announced over all the terminals, international and domestic. Not only that, but they had people come looking for me. For some reason, I didn't hear anything, nor did I hear the announcement on the flight that said if you brought on fruit in to the country than you charged four hundred dollars. "Lesson Learned". I had such great teammates and the race hasn't even started!
Needless to say, I got on the next flight to Palmerston North and had an hour to relax and ponder over the situation I was in. I made it to my final destination and, how beautiful it is!
The moral of the story is: do NOT bring fruit on a flight when flying internationally.
Racing begins Wednesday (New Zealand time) we are a day into the future!
Here is a picture of the lovely brochure the officer gave me... for future reference.

My warning ticket I got:

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