Un Rencontre avec un Douanier (An encounter with a Customs Official)


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Europe » France » Upper Normandy » Rouen
May 11th 2007
Published: May 11th 2007
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On the ride back from Brussels to Rouen, I had my first interaction with French Customs, and my first time being stopped in my Pink Fiat.

It was at the final Tollbooth before getting off the Expressway and arriving in Rouen. The Customs Official put his hand up signaling for me to stop. As I pulled over and turned off the engine I noticed that the Customs Official was no older than I, probably younger. My first time being stopped by a law enforcement officer who looked younger than me.

He asked for my license and the papers for the car. I gave him both. He looked at the license and said ‘this is your driver’s license?’ I said yes. He nodded okay, and I breathed a sigh of relief. I was 90 percent sure that my license would work in France, but I was worried that maybe there was an additional document I was supposed to have as well. He then asked me whose car this was, and I said it was my teammate’s car, that I was here playing baseball and he had lent me the car. He asked me what was my teammate’s name, and I said ‘Eric Fournier’. ‘No, that is not the name on the registration card,’ he says to me and I gulp. Then I remember that the car belongs to his girlfriend, Charlotte, that it is in fact under her name. ‘Oh pardon, c’est Charlotte son nom.’ He asked me what was her last name and I did not know.

He then asked if I smoked, if I did drugs, and I said no. He asked me if I was sure, and I said yes. Then he walked around the outside of the car to inspect it.

The car is in bad shape, I should point out at this moment. It is due for an oil change, when it runs there is the bizarrest and loudest noise, like a grinding sound, the sound that a circular saw makes when it is cutting through wood. Not a good sound.

But the only thing the Official mentioned was that the tires were old and in violation, that he could give me a penalty but instead he was going to let me go with a warning. Thanks, I said.

I pulled into my house later that evening. Flo told me that while I was out DHL had come by with a package and a customs notice saying that if I wanted the package they had to deliver that I must pay 87 Euros in Import taxes and fees. The package was a birthday gift from my parents, and now I have to pay 87 Euros for my own birthday gift??? That is crazy. What is more, I couldn’t believe that I was being stopped by French Customs for the second time in a matter of hours. It time for me to move onto another country, I think. On to Lithuania.


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