It was the return flight from London to Chicago. The plane was mostly vacant and I was comfortably sprawled out over an entire row of seats, five empty ones all to myself. First Class was the indigent class. With a light tap on the shoulder and then eventually a more compelling nudge, the flight attendant woke me up and handed over a piece of paper, a US Customs Declaration Form. It contained a series of about ten questions. Most were mundane and not necessarily applicable to me. But as I checked off a big, fat ‘NO’ next to each query, I came to one that asked if I’d been on a farm or a ranch or in a pasture while abroad; did I come into contact with any soil during my trip?
I thought for a second: maybe I should answer it honestly. But my innate default setting kicked in and I once again checked off the ‘NO’ box. It’s not that honesty was the second-best policy, only that I didn’t really care to explain just how much soil I’d come into contact with. I mean really, how does one explain that he just waded through 265 miles of the shit?