By Eric Jackson
Sorry about not doing an April Fools this year, people were taking it to seriously!
I want to start doing them again, so I need your help!
Every year for as long as I can remember, April 1st was a day I could say anything to anyone and try to find some elaborate scheme for fooling people into believing the unbelievable, and of course, the un-true. When I first started this website back in the late 90’s, before it was a kayak company, anyone reading the website new me personally, for the most part. Now that we have such a large audience, many of whom are just getting into kayaking, into fishing kayaks, recreational kayaks, etc., while the readers may know of me, they don’t know me well enough to pull pranks on them without getting a big backlash.
Please read one of my more elaborate April Fools Jokes from before Jackson Kayak was started and, after you read the whole thing, let me know if you would have known it was a joke or not? Leave a COMMENT below to do that. If enough people knew it was an April Fools Joke, I will be comfortable starting them again! (I hope so!)
Crashing the Spain and American Borders
In Madrid airport, with a ticket back to NYC, lost my passport, trying to get some of the other USA Team members to smuggle me across, past the border control guards, and border police, holding machine guns. I duck in-between two of my buddies, but they chicken out as we get only a few people from the front of the line. Noticing a long hallway, not far from where I was standing, that looked to me to bypass the border patrol, I knew that I had to either go back to the city and try to get a new passport somehow, or make a run for it. I weighed the odds, quickly, looked around, no eyes on me, and dashed down the hall. I got no more than part way along when two armed guards shot out from the hiding spots in the walls and aimed their machine guns right at me and yelled something in Spanish. I put my hands up and yelled, “Bano” for Bathroom. They looked at each other, so I said “Bano” again and they lowered their guns, but grabbed me by the scruff of my neck and lead me the rest of the way through the tunnel. “hmm, so far so good, i think, going the right way anyhow.” My plane was leaving soon, so I was hoping for a good ending to an unknown situation. They lead me into an office that was clearly the border police headquarters with a big guy sitting on his leather chair smoking a cigar and he looked at me and in English said, “so, you were trying to escape Spain withou going through border control, were you?” Knowing there was no way to lie my way out of this one, I said, “yes, sir, there wasnt’ a sign for “do not enter” that I could see, and I don’t have a passport, but most importantly, I really have to go to the bathroom!” He looked at me with the wonder of, “What a bold move, I kind of like this guy, but…” and he had one of the guys take me to his personal bathroom in the office, watch me, which made the whole process take longer than expected, until I pulled the “Hey, Look- the Goodyear blimp!” and he looked the other way just long enough for me to get it going. I am not sure he knew what I was saying, but he was a little annoyed.
I got back to the big boss guy, who was now standing up and looked me in the eye and said, “what do you think you are going to do when you arrive at JFK in New York without a passport?” I said, “talk my way through like I am doing in Spain, I hope.” He laughed and said, “OK, I am going to escort you onto the plane and then, when you get sent back tomorrow, we’ll do this the right way, and you’ll go get a passport or be thrown in jail.”
I said “Sweet!” and they walked me onto the plane, where another 10 of my USA Team friends were staring at the spectacle with wide eyes, seeing their team mate being lead by armed police with machine guns, by the nape of my neck, to my seat. I sat down next to one of them and said, “What’s up?” and the guards left me there, as they closed the doors with a very uncomfortable 200+ people wondering what kind of criminal is now on the plane with no police escort. The rest of the plane ride, I eyed people up and down, as if I was planning some kind of crime, and spent a lot of time walking to the bathroom in the back to see the faces of everyone on the plane. A quick glance behind me, and 1/2 of the plane was looking my way, then quickly turning back as they knew I caught them talking about the killer in row 22.
Landing in JFK, one of the most secure airports in the country, I managed to call Kristine and tell her, who drove from DC to NY to pick me up, that I may be getting a ride back to Spain unless I can talk my way into the country. At this point most of Team USA had smirks on their faces as they knew the next part of this trip would be interesting, at least. I didn’t see any luring looking hallways that bypassed our border control, so decided to hit this one head on.
“Passport Please” the USA Passport Control Officer said to me from the little glass cubicle, somewhere in the middle of the row of about 20 of them, with a lineup behind me of, perhaps as many as 1000 people arriving from all around the world. “I don’t have one with me, but I appreciate you letting me in anyhow, like the nice guy in Madrid who let me on the plane so I could get home.” “You can’t come into the country without a passport, and you certainly could not have gotten on a plane in Spain without one, he said.” I asked, “Can I please see your boss? I really want to go home now.” He pushed some kind of little button, like a silent alarm or something and multiple armed guards came to my booth, standing behind the cubicle and looking at me like their next target. I asked, “can you guys take me to the head of security here? I am on the USA Kayak Team, traveling with my buddies, but with no passport. I need somebody authorized to clear me ASAP.” They seemed to respond to my semi-authoritative statement and lead me to the big boss. I decided to take the confident, happy, and “of course you are going to let me in approach” which went better than I expected. I told him that he could call the big boss in Madrid and he’ll confirm everything, and decided to offer up the information that I had tried to run for it, as he would likely find out anyhow. I added the patriotic statement, that “I am an American, and I was not about to get stuck in a foreign country, sir. Please allow me to enter the place of my birthright and be united with my family.” 5 minutes later he gave me an escort to walk me through to pick up my bags, which included a kayak, paddles, big gear bag, and I had my carry on. I was shaking with excitement at the prospect that I only had one more door to cross and I was home free. I got my escort to help me carry my kayak while I had one hand holding the kayak, and the other carrying my other gear as he walked me past the customs check line-up, past my team mates, and straight out the front door. Kristine was smiling at me, waiting behind the tape, doing her little jumpy dance like “hurry so I can hug and kiss you”. We hugged and kissed and she helped me with my kayak and bags as we began our hike to the car. I looked back; one of my team mates was just clearing out of customs and just looked at me and shook his head. What he was thinking exactly, I have no idea. Kristine barely even mentioned the whole fiasco, but did suggest that I get another passport.
OK_ so that was one of my April Fools Jokes from the late 90’s. Can you do me a big favor and leave a comment letting me know you knew it was a joke, or you would have believed it as a true story.
Meanwhile- enjoy your April Fools Day! I know I will!