The phrase you were looking for is, “We apologize.”
We refer to the recent incident at the Owen Roberts International Airport, where your officers harangued a visiting groom who was bringing to the island his fiancée’s wedding dress. His now-wife (they got married on Saturday), who was not traveling with him, has been working in Grand Cayman and will be leaving the island soon to begin her new life with her husband.
Ms. Bennett, repeat after us: “We apologize.” “We apologize.” “We apologize.”
See, it wasn’t really that difficult getting those utterances past your larynx, now was it?
Compare those salutary words to what you did say: “There was an incident involving a wedding dress and the passenger opted to pay a deposit, pending export versus paying the duty. This is the normal process the Customs Department encounters on a weekly basis, as Cayman is a wedding destination location.”
If customs officers really are harassing visiting grooms transporting wedding dresses to their brides-to-be as a matter of routine, then the Cayman Islands’ status as “a wedding destination” is not long for this world.
What your officers did threatens to knock out one of the few new bright lights for our country’s tourism product — and compelled this particular groom, a former nine-year resident of Cayman, to declare that he will never return to Cayman, ever.
Apparently, customs officers demanded that the groom either pay duty on the wedding dress or put up a deposit of $500, refundable once the couple leaves the island. Eventually the $500 was reduced to $67. Why? Are these sums negotiable?
Ms. Bennett, you also observed that the groom did not declare the suit he intended to wear at his wedding.
Since when are items of clothing of visitors declarable or dutiable? Must swimsuits, business suits or party shirts also be declared and duties or deposits paid by entering tourists?
We have no inkling, and your statement shed no light on, why officers singled out this particular groom for such attention. Was there an implication that he and his new bride were going to sell the custom-made wedding dress before they left the island? C’mon.
This incident is particularly troubling not only because Grand Cayman is a tourism destination, but also because it detracts from the serious, and difficult, work customs officers perform each and every day.
Make no mistake: We understand customs officers are vital to this country. They collect much-needed revenue, provide a first-line defense against smugglers of drugs, guns and goods, as well as act as welcoming ambassadors to our visitors.
The best among them have the smile and demeanor of a greeter at The Ritz-Carlton and, at the same time, the substratal toughness of an agent of the Mossad, Israel’s intelligence-gathering agency.
We prefer to think — and actually do believe — that this recent incident was an aberration, an event that escalated and became emotional, confrontational and unprofessional — to the benefit of no one.