Smiles? We Don't Need No Stinkin' Smiles!

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The Washington Times is reporting on a new "have a nice day" initiative over at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency, heretofore known for its DMV-like etiquette.

CBP Commissioner Robert C. Bonner announced the new initiative yesterday, saying the move would ensure that the agency and its personnel practice the highest of standards in professionalism.

"U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the guardian of this country's borders, but it is also the face of our nation and the U.S. government to all who enter," Mr. Bonner said in announcing the program….

Mr. Bonner said he expected "professionalism and courtesy" to be the hallmark of CBP officers at the nation's 317 ports of entry and noted that signs will be posted at all air, sea and land ports inviting those who are not treated fairly to complain.

Like many bureaucratic initiatives, this one is likely to get stonewalled by employees. Sez the head of the group (not clear if it's a union per se from the Times' account):

"It appears this program is an admission they are more concerned about meeting and greeting commerce and tourism than in protecting our nation's borders from terrorists, illegal aliens, criminals and others who would do us harm."

As if it's an either/or thing. This sort of management-employee standoff makes you marvel all the more at places such as McDonald's which, while far from perfect, manage to build throughout a massive, decentralized organization a fairly uniform, and positive, user experience.

Whole Times story here.

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  1. [WARNING! Links ahead. Lonewacko suggests: mouse over the link and look at your status bar. Then, assuming the link is OK, open it in a new window.]

    Mexico is already threatening to help its citizens sue us over our use of non-lethal paintball weapons. That follows anti-Border Patrol remarks made by Presidential Nephew George P. Bush in Mexico about those non-lethal, rarely-used weapons. So, now we’re going to put up signs encouraging people to complain?

    Those of you able to control your knees long enough to do some research will probably end up agreeing with Showalter’s comments.

    See “Border Patrol union says new rules ‘muzzle’ critics of the agency” and “Why don’t you let us do our jobs?” If you listen to the radio interview of Asa Hutchinson, you’ll never vote for a Bush again.

  2. US Customs is not alone. I was at Baltimore-Washington airport last week to pick up a passenger. While I was trying to wait a few minutes, a young man, early twenties perhaps and identified as a ‘cadet’, approached my car and quite properly told me to move on. His tone of voice, however, was that of barking an order and not that of a polite request. Not the best image of a representative of US authority, had I been a just-arrived visitor. Unfortunately that tone of voice seems prevalent among law enforcement and I believe it reflects an attitude. They tolerate no contradiction and barely a question. I wonder if the cadets at BWI are being trained in politeness. It serves far better to set the tone for a civil encounter between humans.

  3. “And how the fuck is that determined?”

    That’s simple Andy. You ask them, “Do you pose a terrorist threat?”, “Are you a potential criminal or might you commit an act of violence?”, “Do you intend to unlawfully establish residence or accept unlawful employment in the United States?”, and if they answer yes you throw them in the slammer.

    …of course some of them might not be telling the truth, so maybe we just shouldn’t let anyone who isn’t a white, Anglo-Saxon protestant into the country, huh Wacko?

  4. Hi Ken! Did you ever answer that question on the other thread? In case I missed it, feel free to do so here. In three sentences or less, tell us which technologies which people used (in Ken’s offshoring experience).

    And, since you continue to let your ignorance of the matter as well as your ignorance of my positions be your guide, here’s todays reading lessons. Maybe you could learn a little bit about the subject before commenting in the future, OK?

    (All of these are links to my blog. Open in a new window please.)

    I comment on this article here. The title “Are they border guards or stuffed poodles?” might give you a clue as to where I’m going with it.

    See also “Border officials say they are unprepared to protect nation”, “Poll Finds Low Morale for Border Officers”, “Border Patrol union says new rules ‘muzzle’ critics of the agency”, and “Why don’t you let us do our jobs?”.

  5. makes you marvel all the more at place such as McDonald’s which, while far from perfect, manage to build throughout a massive, decentralized organization a fairly uniform, and positive, user experience

    Not having the power of the gun over people wishing to buy a Big Mac brings McWorker attitude from rude and threatening to merely surly.

  6. My local Mickey D’s and Starbucks are both staffed by local oldsters and they’re very cheerful. Going to the Starbucks esp. is like going to Grandma’s for a latte. But crossing at Tijuana is like , well, dealing with the Third World.

  7. Nick,

    “This sort of management-employee standoff makes you marvel all the more at places such as McDonald’s …”

    No, it doesn’t make one marvel – one is the Govt. while the other has to compete in the marketplace (with consequences).

  8. For me, the cranky border guards are part of the whole experience of crossing from Canada into the States. Try Windsor – Detroit, when you come out of that tunnel, its like the alternate universe episode of Star Trek.

    So, does this mean no more $500 dollar fines for taking dumps at border stations?

  9. Is this a joke? There was a satirical subplot almost identical to this in Hari Kunzru’s novel Transmission. A branding consultant was brought in to develop the “brand” of an EU-wide border patrol agency, since it was the first contact most visitors would have with the continent.

  10. “So, does this mean no more $500 dollar fines for taking dumps at border stations?”

    That story would be funny were it not so damn true…

  11. “It said entry must be denied to anyone who poses a terrorist threat, is a potential criminal or might commit acts of violence, and those who intend to “unlawfully establish residence” or accept “unlawful employment” in the United States.”

    And how the fuck is that determined?

  12. Lone Wolf,

    I used to know someone who listened to the howls coming out of the northern part of North County; those howls used to sound a lot like you. If he had put more time and effort into bettering himself and less time into worrying about other people, he wouldn’t have had so much to complain about.

    Talking to him quickly became pointless. His friends and family tried to tell him that Resistance was futile, but he didn’t have anything to learn anymore…

    If I’m wrong about you, please, just renounce the kind of separation I suspect you crave, and you’ll have my full apology.

    …until then, I don’t have any answers to your questions, and I don’t have anything to learn from you.

    I gotta hand it to you for not running with the pack; if I were more courageous, I’d post my views where they would be less welcome. But I like it here. There are a lot of people who love freedom the way I do; it makes me feel like I?m not alone…

    …and for their sake, you can’t blame me for crying Wolf.

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