Sunday, May 16, 2010

All aboard the Pirate Ship!

I had flirted with the idea of taking some cigarettes to Poland with me. Apparently you can multiply your money by a factor of 10. A pack of cigarettes that costs 30 cents in Ukraine goes for over $3 in EU Poland. I needed to cross the border for a day for visa-related reasons.

I flirted lightly – no kissing or conversation, just extended eye contact from across the room – knowing that legally I could profit enough for a nice meal out and with only smuggling a case I could make enough to cover my whole trip to Lublin and back. I decided against it of course, morals and such.

When I got on the bus I noticed the woman next to me had a few packs of cigarettes. I smiled politely to try and say, “Yes, I also had considered such a plan.” …

Apparently I had not.

Within a few miles of the bus station the woman next to me began opening her bags. She had dozens of cartons of cigarettes. Literally thousands of dollars worth of smuggled goods. And so did everyone else on the bus.

With the exception of a handful of other young people – everyone on the bus had dozens of cartons of cigarettes! Everyone began taping packs of cigarettes together and filling socks and pantyhose with cigs. Like Santas-little-elfs-gone-street they began stuffing every crevasse, crack, and cushion of the bus with tobacco products.

My seat-mate was clearly the captain of the ship. This was her operation and the other women were her minions.

As we got closer to the border, outfits started getting larger. Packs were taped to every surface area on the body. The woman next to me fit 25 packs of cigarettes on EACH LEG! Layers and layers of clothing covered thousands of packs of cigarettes. Even as we were crossing the border tape was flying to hide ever more product.

The Polish authorities said that our bus looked suspicious and that if we forfeited 100 packs they would let us through. The women thought this was a trap and everyone claimed there were no cigarettes on board.

So they ordered everyone off the bus to search us. Amazingly – they only found cigarettes on one woman; she had so many packs on her legs that she couldn’t bend her knees to get off the bus. But, they found a lot of cigarettes hidden on the bus.

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This is a picture of the Polish police taking a bag full of dozens of cartons of cigarettes.

Surprisingly, the authorities missed some of the packs hidden on the bus. When it was said and done and the tape had been removed, the woman next to me had 12 cartons of cigarettes! My short, 200 mile, 6 hour bus ride ended up taking over 10 hours because of the time spent at the Polish border.

I have ridden the Pirate ship and all I can say is good riddance it's over!

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