Exit checks? It's a paperwork formality - at least it seems so. The UK border cops are rarely sitting in their cabin late on a Friday evening. And if they are, they languidly wave you through at the sight of the proffered maroon booklet. The chances of there being someone awake in the French cabin are slim to the point of emaciation.
Tonight was the night we arrived behind the guy who had forgotten to have his passport ready.
He climbed out of the car and opened his boot. It was packed up to the roof with stuff. A small bag for him. A small bag for her. And 47 bags for the tiny sleeping infant in the back seat.
Realising that finding the passport might take some time, he gestured politely to me to try the next lane. Surely the first French man ever to gesture politely to un anglais?
I reversed, manoeuvred and found the douanier in the next lane had just this moment decided that enough was enough. "Fermé!," he cried. I manoeuvred back again.
By now mum had got out of the car too and was rummaging for passports. The task seemed hopeless. Surely they would have to unpack all this stuff? We watched as they searched the obvious bags. No joy.
Eventually our douanier lost patience. Do you have any ID at all?, he demanded. Monsieur patted down his pockets, pulled out his wallet and showed his library ticket - or possibly his carte d'identité, I couldn't tell. Bon.
After a short repacking interlude, on they drove, no doubt arguing about whose fault it was that the passport might be in the bag at the bottom of the pile containing the used nappies (good security ).