Thursday, December 10, 2009

What's scarier than Christmas decorations in August

A call from the Feds!  I get a call today from an agent of the USDA on my cell phone (my cell phone number isn't published).  Agent Scully (of course not her real name) asks about a plant purchase I made on Ebay from Thailand (hair starts standing up on my neck, oh great, the lemon grass was actually opium poppy or pot and they're after my haunted @$$!).  I said yes, I purchased 3 red lemon grass plants that died immediately and they were disposed of.  Scully isn't satisfied; how were they disposed of, landfill, compost pile, etc.  I said I threw the whole pot in a black garbage sack and threw it in the garbage months ago.  Scully was then satisfied.
And by the way, Scully was at my folk's house and before that was at my house looking for me.  She had looked me up and traveled about 300 miles.   She had undoubtedly gotten all my account information from Ebay and government records.  Scary.
What had happened was that a seller on Ebay was selling plants...without going through customs.  I remember going through the wringer through customs in Atlanta coming back from Cancun as they were looking for any items that weren't allowed into the US.  I remember getting the package early this spring and wondering how that was possible but didn't give it a thought after that.  She then gave me some sobering facts that if certain plants were introduced improperly, it could be disastrous (read: kudzu), turning into a agricultural nightmare. She said that even something as simple as a bark birdhouse manufactured overseas and brought in could harbor some sort of horned beetle that could hatch and attack hardwood trees.  They wouldn't have any natural enemies over here and the only remedy would be to destroy any infected trees with the beetle.  She then asked me if I had citrus trees and I said yes.  She asked where I got them and I said "Lowe's".  I was safe, it seems that Florida is under an agricultural quarantine for citrus plants and can't be exported out of the state because of some disease on them. 

All kidding aside, Agent Scully was very nice to talk to after she realized that I was COMPLETELY cooperative and had no idea what I had done and that the plants in question were buried in a black bag in a hole halfway deep to China.  She said Ebay was being cooperative in their concerns against unauthorized plants being brought into this country and left me her card in my mailbox in case I had any questions.

On behalf of Agent Scully and myself, please be mindful about buying or bringing items that the customs people frown upon.  It's for our own good.  There's probably a freeze-hardy kudzu out there that will take over the US if given a chance that must be kept out at all costs!


suzanne said...

Glad to hear you weren't thrown into prison! :)

We often get interrogated about plants when crossing the border. They seem especially concerned about potatoes . . .

Diane said...

holy crap! that had to have been just a bizarre phone call at the beginning!! wow, you're like, notorious now! lol

Chris 'Frog Queen' Davis said...

Wow what a story! What an interesting life you have there! :) You are right about the title, I think that is just slightly scarier than Christmas decorations in August :)