the golden ticket

there is just one golden entrance ticket to this world. it is small. it is red. and it reads: passport of the european union. – preferably even, if it names any country between france to germany.

it was the first time that i realized it when traveling from the us to canada. i was on a bus and we hat to get out, get checked through before crossing the border. the entire bus, with a number of about 50 people on board, was ready to leave after some 15-20 minutes. yet it did not go down this way. there was one man with a black ticket on board. i do not know which country it was. but it was arab. and it was bad. he was searched for one and a half hour. they found nothing. but i found the importance of the right passport.

it was today that i was on the bus again, going from copenhagen to brussels. it is quite an interesting thing to travel on a bus for so long. on a city shuttle no one would start talking. but in a trans-country bus with several hours ahead of you, people start to mingle. which is why i came to know the people in the bus. there was a kurdish person, and a cameroon and a greek and a rumanian and moroccan. we traveled for more than half the journey already – european union has open borders, right? there was not even a check on the ferry from denmark to germany. but in the netherlands they stopped us. i woke up from the hustling around me. it was 04:30 am. suddenly, a bright light and two officers, armed. i am sitting in the middle. two africans behind me, two greeks in front. i got the first row seat for the spectacle this time.

the woman in front of me, a rather big talking broad who kept pushing her seat back against my knees the entire trip. yet suddenly, when the police officer pulled out an object to check her passport she got really small. “everything ok” she whispered. he gave her the kind of grim stare only a border control officer can give you in the middle of the night. i always wonder whether this kind of stare is part of their job description.

by that time the other officer reached the seats behind me. black. not a good color. neither on the passport, nor at your skin – does not matter which passport you have unless it is not red and golden. it is not politically correct to say that, but it is the damn truth.

both man stand in front of me, both checking numbers through a speaker phone. suddenly their view reaches me. i smile and ask them who to hand my passport to. one takes it. and there they are; written in golden letters, the magic words – european union.

the officer opens my passport, looks at it, looks at me and hands it back. “thank you” no flipping through the pages. no checking with the blue light. no grim stare. just a nod and a thank you.

it took them another ten minutes until they were able to confirm the numbers of the greek passport. they are european as well. but their ticket is not golden. and it took them about fifteen minutes to lecture the guy from cameroon that if he had not had a permanent stay card for denmark he would have had to take him into custody, for his passport was not valid anymore.

show over. point proven. a golden ticket is priceless.

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