By Ed Tasca
Because of the current U.S. recession, the fed’s less aggressive pursuit of illegals and a severely reduced flow of Mexican immigrants across the U.S. border, it’s been reported that U.S. border agents - normally alert, professional and keen - are having a hard time managing the lack of action and the ennui.
When the order came down to border patrol supervisors from The Chief of Border Patrol to “Keep the men sharp and provide a learning experience as well,” many possibilities tweeted to life, none of which came by way of Air Traffic Controllers. I can share with you some of the more compelling that didn’t have to do with mobile phone games or body scan simulations.
Living off the land. One sector chief chose to instruct his team (Troop A) on the torturous discipline of living off the land and surviving any and all kinds of unpleasant conditions, such as eating scorpions, luring roadrunners into snares made of sage brush and a sock, and using your underwear to treat gingivitis. The training sounds arduous but the men are allowed certain basic, useful tools: a string and a bottle cap.
Regrettably, after three days, two of the men from Troop A were found wandering dazed around the outskirts of Laredo pleading for a Snickers. Another agent, living in a dug-out built from palm fronds and cow patties, was heard screaming, “Amigos, come on in! Just don’t forget the pozole!” The training was later banned.
Advanced Physical Fitness. Troop B chose advanced physical fitness based on the programs used by Navy Seals. The PowerPoint training presentation, which was projected on the steel fence separating the border with the U.S. and Mexico, went fetchingly at first, until the lesson on how the Seals claw-climb steel fences at night carrying eighty pounds of food and gear and a dog was shown. The presentation could be seen from bluffs on the Mexican side of the fence, and cross-border immigration picked up significantly. Politicians stepped in and the lessons were replaced by Kindle feeds of Jumping Jacks.
Learning Transcendental Meditation. After two weeks of intense introspection, four decorated law enforcement agents of Troop C became so spiritually inspired and enlightened they went AWOL; and were reportedly last seen healing the sick in and around Ixtlahuacán using nothing but Reiki non-touch healing and essence of lavender. The AWOL agents returned home frustrated within two weeks, claiming they couldn’t figure out IMSS paperwork.
The Eco-Patrol. One group of agents, Troop D, chose to spend its slow hours cultivating the barren areas around the border fence and growing heart-healthy foods, herbs and seeds to be shared with colleagues. The little biosphere regrettably had to be abandoned when it was discovered by inspectors that their extremely popular “nopal” patches turned out to be peyote.
The Book Club. Finally, one motivated team, Troop E, concerned with more intellectual pursuits, decided to test an all-male book club—that’s right in situ - right there in the gritty bleakness of the desert. Several uniformed and armed men gathered around a campfire during their slow time to discuss The Kite Runner. Bowls of Tostitos were served, along with a homemade dip made of mustard. (Records indicate it was a cup of mustard.)
Opening discussions were unanimous that the book didn’t have the subtlety and sensitivity of the latest Penelope Cruz movie. And that the person who chose the book didn’t bring enough Tostitos. When a fistfight broke out over the Tostitos, the troop supervisor brought out a box of Cream Crackers. “Cream Crackers!” one combatant yelled, “They don’t have any taste. That’s why only the Brits eat them.” (He proved his point by crumbling several crackers over an ant hole and pointing out that even the ants wouldn’t touch them.)
The Book Club Troop were suddenly besieged by hunger-frenzied, disoriented members of the Living Off the Land experiment who smelled the Tostitos. Another fistfight broke out over the Tostitos, until members of The Transcendental Meditation team stumbled in, broke up the fight and forced everyone into a group chant. A renegade member of the Eco-Patrol heard the commotion and brought “nopal.”
For the sake of his men’s safety and sanity, Chief of the Border Patrol, still wishing to have his Mexican enemy return, had one more idea. He organized one sector of the border patrol into an all-volunteer Mariachi band and ordered a parade along the fence. Unfortunately, Mexicans living across the border in Chihuahua complained about the noise.