Stage Directions For A Border Crossing
Give me your passport.
Give me 200,000 Vietnamese Dong.
Excuse me. This is only 100,000 Dong. Do not cheat me. I am a government official, I do not lie.
You have only given me 100,000 Dong. See? Oh. Oh. I am very sorry. Give me your passport. Give me your passport now. Oh. I see.
Here is your passport.
Get on the bus. Now.
Wait. Sir. You must pay the imaginary federal provisionary foreign-nationals non-existent border excise tariff before you proceed. What? I require 80,000 Dong. Now.
Welcome to Laos. If you flinch I will lodge a 39mm round in your brain. Welcome. Please procure twenty United States dollars. The fee has just shifted sir. I require one more dollar. Here, fill this out. Ahem, do I detect blue ink? Four dollars. Sir. See the sign? Standard policy.
Passport photo. Please. I will require 230,000 Lao Kip. Processing fees, yes. You wish to convert? Thirty United States dollars. No. We do not have change.
Here. Give me that. Okay, I require your expired American Automobile Association card.
Okay, now give me forty dollars. One moment please. Okay, now give me your credit card. Yes, mother’s maiden name, please. Write it down with this pen. One dollar usage fee. Okay. Now go to that window.
Okay. Hello. 280,000 Lao Kip, please. I see. Fill this out. Okay. Now give me your wallet. Now I give you 10,000 Vietnamese Dong. Good. Now go to this window. Wait. Give me your shoes. Very good.
Hello. No, I have never seen you before.
Sir, if you do not have a passport then you are not authorized to cross this border. Oh. Oh. I see. 400,000 Kip, please. Yes. Inflation. Now give me your shirt, yes. I will need four photographs of your 7th grade history teacher. Do not cheat me. Social Studies is not the same thing. Yes. Security purposes. Now give me 17 United States dollars. No, this will not do. Sacajawea dollars only.
Very well then.
Sir, one more thing. Your socks.
Oh. Welcome to…wait. How many American imperialist dogs does it take to change a…wait. There is an additional surcharge of 80,000 Kip. Sorry, Danish Kroners only. I apologize sir but these were minted after 1998. Okay. Fine. Welcome to Laos. Fuck you.