Pulling up to the border crossing between Ontario and Buffalo (The Peace Bridge), my husband and I both held our breaths. We don’t travel south very often and the last few times we have, it’s been by air. The last time we crossed on the ground was two years ago when, for the first time, we experienced the wrath of the American border control – unfortunately, this time was no different.
We should have seen it coming. We’d prepped our passports, we’d turned the music off and we’d put on the friendliest of faces, only to be welcomed at the crossing booth with the straight face of the American guard, who looked as if he’d spent hours contemplating his existence (and come to the conclusion that life really isn’t worth living) or had just walked out of a brawl and lost. He was mad. Or, at least, he looked mad.
Unlike the friendly canucks who at least greet you with a “Hello”, the first thing that came out of this guy’s mouth, was “Take your sunglasses off.”, directed to me, seating with a smile on my face in the passenger seat. Whoa, simmer down. And while you’re at it, why don’t you take your sunglasses off, you jackass?
He then proceeded with “Nationalities?”. Okay then, straight down to business. “I’m German, and my wife is Canadian” said my husband. The guard then took our passports – and didn’t return them. My husband and I glanced at each other. This happened the first time we pulled up as well, as did what was to follow. “Put on your hazards and head on over to door #2.” First of all, please takes all of an extra two seconds to spit out of your mouth and may make us feel a bit more comfortable about the process. Second of all, where the hell are our passports? As a foreigner, or wife of a foreigner, having someone march off with your passports without telling you where they’re going while you sit in a country where you have absolutely no rights as an outsider is a tad worrying. All of a sudden you are literally stranded, with no documented proof that you had passports in the first place. We were given a slip of what looked like torn off white paper with a hand written number 2 on it and sent over to the interrogation area. Awesome. You’ve just added an extra two hours onto our five hour road trip for absolutely nothing, you schmuck.
Now, I’m sure you’re all wondering why we would get pulled over if our documents were in check? Here’s why. Every 60 days, the authorities will pull you over if you’re a foreigner (outside of N.A) driving into the States. This guard however, was so thick, that he neglected to check for air crossings, one of which my husband had done half a month earlier on a visit to Boston. As a result of his laziness, or perhaps illiteracy, we were flagged and pulled over into “the room”. The room is a place where the doors are locked behind you. Where you sit, without any documents or passports, awaiting your fate at he hands of a foreign power. Where tens to hundreds of people gather one one site of the counter while guards chit-chat and sip their coffee, on the other. And so, we entered and found our seats on the far side of the room. Behind us, there was a glass wall where a swipe card would allow you to enter and exit. On either side of the glass divide, people were seated, waiting for their name to be called by one of the few guards actually working. Continue reading “An over the border encounter in the USA”