Al Gina, assistant commissioner for trade at U.S. Customs and Border Protection, did a good job impersonating a stand-up comic when he addressed members of the National Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association of America at their government affairs conference in Washington Sept. 19.
Here are some of the native New Yorker’s best jokes:
• “I’m a diehard Jets fan. Flying back from the APEC meeting Sunday and unbeknownst to me, and to my great pleasure, Virgin America has live, in-flight TV.
“I will admit I had my colleagues send my talking points for today out to San Francisco. And the plan was that I was going to prepare to go over them. (Pause – as if mulling the situation). So talking points … or … New York Jets? So I missed the whole Jet’s game,” he said with a half wink.
• “Even though I spent 10 years in the South (on agency assignments), I was not born and raised there. I was giving a presentation at the C-TPAT conference in New Orleans once and one of my colleagues afterwards said he was sitting next to somebody from Singapore and during my remarks the individual from Singapore leaned over and said, ‘What country is he from?’
“I reminded my (counterparts) from South Asia yesterday that I’m from the borough of Queens. So what you are listening to is the Queen’s English.”
• Referring to the policy goal espoused by some that Customs should facilitate trade as much as regulate it, Gina said: “As an inspector, I’ve always hated that word ‘facilitator.’ It kind of denotes that we just waive through stuff. My twin brother, he knows how to get me. He says, ‘You’re just a typical government employee, facilitating everything through. What am I getting for my tax dollars?’
“And I said, ‘Well, you’re not getting what you wanted and I need a raise.’”
• “In my 29 years (at CBP), I’ve had 18 official jobs. I say, ‘Don’t do a good job at anything and they’ll keep moving you.’”