It happened again. Previously it was at Heathrow. This time, it was Dublin Airport.
Arriving on Saturday morning, my passport’s older stamps made it clear immediately to the Irish border agent that I travel to Ireland pretty regularly. After we cleared up that I live in the United Kingdom and not in the U.S.A., he asked me my occupation. They don’t always do that.
I chuckled inside: I knew my answer would get a reaction. Whenever over the years I’d said “university administration,” no one ever raised an eyebrow. However, saying you write novels will nearly always – after the surprise has worn off – lead to some good-natured conversation.
As he stamped me in, unsurprisingly he asked me about the books. I told him they are travel/romance fiction. (Which is by now my standard “quickie” response in every situation; like any other job, there’s no need to go into further details unless those details are asked for.) I added they aren’t written under my real name; that I write under my pen name. I told him what it is.
He slid my passport back under the partition. He sat back. There was no one behind me waiting to be seen next.
I realized suddenly I’d also forgotten a cardinal rule in Ireland: mention books in just about any context to nearly anyone, and you never know where the discussion might go.
“Ah, I’ll have a look,” he continued. “Do you get ideas when you travel?”
“I do,” I replied.
There was an awkward pause. Probably you know what I mean. It was one of those moments when, in dealing with officialdom, you aren’t quite sure what you are supposed to be doing with yourself.
“Oh, you can go,” he smiled. “Have a good day.”
I nodded and turned to walk towards baggage reclaim. “You, too.”
Catching me unawares, he added, “Eh, you should carry one with you and wave it when you come in.”
* * *
Flew back to England last night. The trip was just a weekend with long-time friends there. I’m writing this post at my usual spot, at my desk.
And I’m still recovering from the SHOCK! 😉
Have a good Monday, wherever you are in the world. 🙂