Dear Mr. US Customs and Border Protection Officer,
Last Sunday, my husband and I flew from Toronto Pearson International Airport going to Newark, New Jersey. When we checked in at our airline desk, the attendant gave me and my husband CBP Declaration Forms to fill up and explained that since we have different last names, we may need to each fill up a form. For the record, me and my husband are not newbie travelers, and we have flown from, to and through the States a lot of times already. We know for a fact that it's one CBP Declaration Form per family, but just to be on the safe side and especially that the airline attendant had pointed it out to us, we opted to each fill up two separate forms. I mean, what's the worst thing that could happen in the United States when two separate forms were filled up by a married couple with different last names like us, right? A waste of paper and ink maybe, but other than that I don't really see anything grievous to that err nor something that would cause a dire threat to the border or country whatsoever!
Anyway, when we reached your counter, you asked both of us how we know each other. We said we're husband and wife, and then you retorted asking why we filled up two separate forms. I politely explained going back to what the attendant told us regarding me and my husband's different last names, but you sharply asked us, not just once but several times, in a sarcastic and condescending tone if we read the declaration form. And for the sake of all humanity, I spoke of the truth and nothing but the truth, that we did read the form not just that instance but all those other instances we've traveled and crossed the border by air! There was absolutely no need to read over to us that form again as if we were moronic nincompoops. I totally accept our failure to follow the instruction, but honestly, was it really necessary for you to reprimand us in such obvious sarcasm like we're uneducated people?
You reminded me of this one other time that I flew from Pearson to New Jersey (didn't I tell you I've flown these route a lot of times already?). I haven't obtained my Canadian citizenship yet that time, so I was traveling on my Philippines passport. Your coworker, another smart alec US CBP officer, asked me what my citizenship is to which I replied, "Filipino." Guess what, I got corrected by this power-tripping-feeling-high-and-mighty officer saying that I'm not a Filipino but rather a FILIPINA. He gave me a heck of an argument saying that Philippines is similar to Hispanic countries in terms that there's niña and niño. Like, seriously??? That's the best he could come up with??? I was tempted to dare him go to the Philippines and ask any local female what her citizenship is, and then shoot me if he doesn't get the same answer I gave him, but after a quick thought, I realized that wasn't even why I was having a conversation with him in the first place! Does that even have anything to do with my potential as a traveler to cause trouble in your country??? Oh, for Pete's sake!
Listen, we, as foreign travelers, totally understand that it's your job, duties, responsibilities and obligations as CBP officers to protect the border of the country you serve. We don't expect you to be Mr. Nice Guys and friendly-friendly "hi hello" to us, but a little pleasantry is always appreciated. As travelers, we deserve the same respect we give you as authority figures. We acknowledge that you are in a position to deny us entry to your country, so we are aware that we should do our best to cooperate with you. That's already a given and pretty obvious enough, so please, you don't have to rub it in with those unnecessary intimidating, power-tripping comments you consciously drop to foreign travelers. You just never know because it could happen that while you got busy picking on innocent, low-risk travelers like us (and yeah, ruining a supposedly nice trip), you'd end up missing the red flags on the traveler next in line. Karma could happen fast, you know. Come to think of it, wasn't it just a couple of years back that a traveler tried to blow up a Northwest Airline as it was preparing to land in Detroit? I'm sure you have a valid explanation how that one passed through the CBP!
Therefore, going back to you, Mr. Customs and Border Protection Officer, I'm not generalizing here because in all fairness, I've had good CBP experiences too wherein the officers I've encountered with were pleasant and helpful, but you see, it would definitely make flying into the US nicer if there's more of those corteous officers and less like you.
A Filipino-Canadian who travels a lot back and forth in Canada and US
PS: I am now seriously considering to apply for a Nexus card.