Monday, February 18, 2008

The one where I am rudely disturbed

Travel documents.
They're important, people!
You should take very good care of your passport and always remember to take it with you if you're travelling abroad.

It's also very handy to have it nearby in day to day situations.

I have an awesome story for you all that I was withholding for a time like now. And by 'a time like now' I mean now that I remembered it.

So let's go back to May 2007.

The Girl and I had just moved into our shitty tiny tiny shoebox fantastic new room in a share house in Hammersmith. The house was made up of about 9 bedrooms over 3 levels. There were no dining/loungerooms and as such no one really knew anyone else in the house. But it was cheaper than living in hostels, so we were happy enough.

It was a Friday morning.

I awoke on this fateful day at the usual time, around 6.30am. Begrudgingly, I slid out of bed and shuffled into the bathroom.
I was enjoying the invigorating properties of hot running water when there was a knock on the bathroom door. I'd been in the shower for 5 mins at the most.
I yelled out with the old 'Yeaap?'
No answer. I shrugged and thought one of my flatmates was being a bit rude, but it didn't bother me.
*Knock knock.*
'Yes, what??' Slightly more aggravated this time.
Still nothing. I was annoyed by the lack of consideration displayed by my flatmates. Whilst pondering the possible need for immediate access to the bathroom ('upset stomach', plaque eradication, morning number ones, follow-through, feminine dramas) there was another knock.
That was the final straw. I jumped out, threw my towel around me and grabbed the door handle.
Boy, was I going to give some shit-words and death-eyes to the impatient person on the other side.
I swung open the door.
Instead of an impatient flatmate, I was greeted by 10 people clad in police uniform, bulletproof vests, walkie talkies and utility belts.

Oh Hi. We thought we'd drop around and make sure you weren't having long showers.

One guy even had a bandana on. I guessed he probably had a nickname like 'Maverick' or 'Ace' or 'Shooter'.
I thought of all the reasons that my house could be suddenly filled by such people.
Was I living in a crack den? No.
Had I been storing weapons grade plutonium? Don't think so.
Was I an extra in a new Police Academy movie? Nuh.
Was I Jason Bourne? Not that I recall.
Had I punched any old ladies recently? Nuh-uh.
Maybe it was because we'd been neglecting our basil plant and they'd come to take it into foster care? Possibly.

A man whose badge identified him as belonging to UK Immigration very sternly and quickly shouted at me: 'What room are you in? What's your name? Where are you from?
Meanwhile, I'm dripping wet looking around at the SWAT team that has suddenly materialised in our hallway. I try my hardest not to laugh.
'I'm in the front room. My name's Jiminy. I'm from Australia.'
One guy then peered into the bathroom, presumably to see if I was harbouring any illegal immigrants. Once he realised our bathroom was essentially a shoebox filled with porcelain and tiles and that I wasn't trying to help Pablo out a window, he relaxed a bit.
In a perfect twist of fate, to back up my story I was wearing my Australian flag beach towel. (A little too convenient, I bet they thought.) Luckily I'd decided not to wear my 'Unauthorised Border Crossing Convention 07' commemorative bath robe .
Anyways, I got hustled into our room by two of the armed guys. Whilst Maverick and one of his colleagues ran around our house for a while and knocked on doors, some others checked the Girl's and my passport and best of all I thought, jovially stated 'Well you check out, we'll have to arrest someone else!'
Good jokes from the guy with the gun.
They then left as quick as they came, leaving us a receipt of their search warrant and an overwhelming feeling of complete bewilderment. And possibly some hidden surveillance devices.
They piled into two unmarked black vans and took off down the road.
It wasn't until after around ten minutes of The Girl and I staring at each other in silent confusion that we gathered our senses enough to think to look at the warrant receipt. It was a carbon copy that was completely illegible. Oh well.

I laughed for about another half an hour at the sheer absurdity of what had just happened, then went back and finished my shower.

Dawn raids are an awesome way to start a Friday.

So the moral of the story is:

Keep your passport handy at all times because you never know when some gung-ho enforcement agency is going to do a dawn raid on your house, beat on the door, drag you out of your shower, ask you to prove you're not an illegal alien and then disappear into thin air.

I'm full of wisdom.
You people could learn alot.


Fever Dog said...

It's best to do what they want, otherwise they might chase you down and shoot you. Or else break your down in the middle of the night, shoot someone, lie about it, arrest everyone in a blaze of publicity and later release you all without charge.

Ahh, London in the 21st century, there's no place like it :)

(btw, I was reminded of this"

Technodoll said...

Deffo adding your craziness to my blogroll - keep 'em coming! And thanks for checking my diatribes... every day brings new, er, well funny stuff... ;-)

Amanda said...

For some really odd reason, this took 6 hours to show up in Google Reader, so it's only just filtering through now.


I'm torn between "you can't be serious. This must be a send up. This sort of thing does not happen to normal law abiding people!", "Holy fucking shit, I'm cancelling my ticket" (which ironically, I just collected from the travel agent)and "HAHAHA, that's the funniest thing I've ever heard".

The question remains as to why your house. An anonymous tip off from a neighbour who was annoyed that someone in your house glared sideways at their cat the previous morning? Strange bright lights congregating above your house alone? Odd amount of Mexican cooking going on, and no one considered it's just because you really like tacos? The mind boggles.

That totally beats my 'holy shit, there's a policeman standing on that random corner with a massive machine gun, he seems to be guarding something, only there's NOTHING THERE TO GUARD story'.

the boy who likes to... said...

Thats some crazy shit. And althoguh I've never tested it, I'm pretty sure the jokes from anyone carrying a gun are immediately funny.

Although I like that they gave you a reciept.

non-Blondie said...

And yet this experience didn't seem to have much effect on you WHEN YOU WERE PACKING FOR OUR HOLIDAY!

No, I'm not letting it die.

Mars said...

i don't think you were speacial... i reckon they just go down busting into ALL the houses in hammersmith hoping to find 'illegals'... though, unlikely they'll get many pablos, i'm thinking there would be one or two 'daves' who have overstayed their 2 year visa!

where do you go if you want to find illegals in melbs? springvale. where do you go if you want to find illegals in london? hammersmith. it's rife with aussies and kiwis just waiting to be deported... haaaa*snort*

Dune said...

What. the. hell.

ROFL!!! What the hell?!! :)

Anonymous said...

Holy cow! That's some scary stuff... I will remember to carry my passport with me at all times now!

jiminycricket said...

FD: That link is awesome... Yeah I don't want them doing that. I was too shocked to do anything other than comply...

technodoll: I'll take that as a compliment! Consider yourself subscribed to.

amanda: That sucks. I've noticed it's only picking up my posts ages after I post them. Stupid rss.. I think it may have been our house as there were people of lots of different nationalities living there, so to the little old ladies who peer out between curtains, it may have seemed suspicious or something. I wish we could have read the warrant, then i'd know what the hell was happening.
Coincidentally, I do really like tacos.

Rob: Anyone in possession of a firearm is instantly funny/smart/good looking/whatever it is they are wanting you to think they are. It's England- Of course they gave us a receipt!

girlfriend: Yes, yes... It would seem it takes more than an entire swat team to make me remember things.

mars: Good point. I still think they were looking for our neglected basil plant though. It was Thai basil afterall...

Dune: i know... That was exactly what i did for about an hour after they left.

pjb: I know! You should get your passport details tattooed on or something, just in case!

Gnugs said...

Ah... the Joy of Traveling. Fun times in Egypt, while visiting Del-el-Bahri, when I was thrown to the ground and sat on by a rather corpulent Uzi toting Police Officer, for braining a guy in the face with my umbrella after he tried to pick my pocket. It took everything that was in said pocket, and some more from my tour guide, to get the nice police officer to let me go.
:) Gotta love it!

jiminycricket said...

Thats insane! Luckily I was dealing with non-corrupt police that got sweet f-a out of my pockets. Remind me to not use umbrellas in Egypt.