Wednesday, January 14, 2009

don't touch my bags if you please Mr. Customs Man

I'm more excited than anything, a girl with a backpack and a grin, twittering foolishly about mounties and humming Oh Canada in my head. I skip over to Immigration, knowing Tanis
is right around the corner. I gleefully hand over my passport and then things take a turn for the worse.

Mountie #1: What is the nature of your visit?
Me: Visiting a friend.
Him: How much did you pay for your ticket?
Me: Um? Well. I think it was around $XXX. I had to change the flight, I was sick, see and...
Him: Who are you visiting in Canada?
Me: Tanis. (Shit. I. Can't. Remember. Her. Last. Name.)
Him: Where does she live?
Me: Canada?
Him: How do you know her?
Me: Um, well we both blog (eyebrows raise) and we became friends.
Him: Over the internet?
Me: Well, yes but it's not as weird as it sounds.
Him: What do you do for a living?
Me: I work in non profit.
Him: What was the temperature when you left the USA?
Me: Seriously? Um, 45 degrees? Shit. If I get it wrong, do I go home?
Him: Why are you only here for 24 hours? That doesn't make any sense.
Him: Picks up the phone. Mutters. Hangs Up. Mountie #2 arrives. You need to step over here please. Mountie #2 leads me into a side room. With a door. Fuck.

Mountie #2 hands me off to Mountie #3. I note she's wearing a kevlar vest and has a gun. What about all that peacekeeping business? She takes my passport and starts typing, typing, typing. I can't help but wonder what the hell she's saying. My heart is beating faster.

Her: What's the purpose of your visit?
Me: Visiting a friend.
Her: What's your friend's name?
Me: Tanis XXXXX. Whoot! I just remembered her last name!
Her: Where does she live?
Me: Shit. Um. Near the airport. I actually have no idea.
Her: What is your friend's address?
Me: I don't know.
Her: What is her birthdate?
Me: I don't know.
Her: How do you know her?
Me: Fabulous. Um, blogging? See, we are well, mommybloggers. She came to visit me, I am returning the favor, I can show you our blogs....
Her: That won't be necessary.
Me: She's waiting outside for me.
Her: That's not good enough.
Me: Shit. Even if she brought me a coat? I decide to leave that one alone.
Her: Why are you only here for 24 hours?  
Me: Well, that's all that I could work out, I had an earlier trip planned, but I got sick and had to reschedule.
Her: A lot of money for a short trip.
Me: When did Canada become my personal financial advisor? Um, she's worth it?
Her: Social Security #? I give it.
Her: Have you spent time in Georgia?
Me: No. When did Canada become my personal travel advisor? What does Georgia have to do with this?
Her: What are you planning on doing in Canada?
Me: Um, visit my friend? Didn't we already cover this? Is this a trick question?
Her: Where will you be staying?
Me: With her. But I'm not sure where that is. With rednecks? In the country? I can totally see how dumb this looks. I do. But here I am. I continue to keep my mouth shut.
She continues to type and type and type. I continue to marginally freak out.
Her: What do you do for work in California?
Me: I work in non profit. I work with homeless people.
Her: How do you do that?
Me: When did Canada become my vocational counselor? Um, shelter? Services?
Her: Do you have children?
Me: One.
Her: Who is watching your child while you are here?
Me: Her dad. When did Canada become my mother?
Her: You can proceed to customs.
The final Mountie took my bag apart. Thankfully I had very little inside. I am a bit shaky now and am finally released. I wobble out of the doors and see Tanis. Proceed to take back every nice thing I've ever said about Mounties and tell her I need a drink and quick.

The rest of the weekend was absolutely fantastic. Tanis took me the biggest mall in the world, I kid you not, this mall has a water park, a casino, roller coasters, a skating rink, miniature golf and sea lions. And Bingo and bungee jumping. There was a dragon too. Plus all the stores malls are supposed to have. I mean, it was a freaking sideshow of American Capitalism overspilling into our northern lands and corrupting them forever. Or it was a mall. Either way, it scared me. A lot.

We went to a (really terrible) movie about some weird demon kid but we talked so loud we got in trouble and I thought I might have to get into a fight with some Canadian tweens. Fearing our safety, she took me home, where I promptly proceeded to fall in love. Fric and Frac are my new favorite children. They are beautiful and adorable and clever and precious and they bake really good cookies. And then there was Boo. Now that's a dude you can drink with. And he's really cute too. I tried to convince them to let me sleep in their room but Tanis wouldn't have any of it. She's all talk, that one. So much for redneckery. 

So instead we stayed up late and talked and laughed and in the morning my two new favorite children were even more adorable and Boo cooked a delicious breakfast and it was time to go home way too soon and thankfully I left before I had the chance to become "A Real Canadian" something I totally would have done just to prove I was tough enough to be "A Real Canadian" and as long as it didn't involve Mounties because I'm so over those dudes now.

I was sort of expecting to be arrested upon arrival at the airport but thankfully I got to go through Homeland Security instead of Canadian immigration and I will never, not ever talk shit about them again because on the way back it was all smiles and Welcome Home and Did You Have a Nice Time and I was all what the hell's up with Canada anyways and they were all yeah who knows those cats are way too uptight up here and with that I was on my way back home. Too short and perfect all at once.




Bookmark and Share

40 comments:

moldingyoungminds said...

Man!! I guess I didn't realize just how strict they'd gotten...when my friend & I went to Canada before 9/11, we just showed our drivers licenses, answered the "what is your business?" question and drove on through. Thank goodness my "I'm visiting from Texas and we're going to eat dinner in Canada" answer wasn't the "Georgia" equivalent!! holy cow!!

It's probably a good thing you didn't tell the Mounties "....and I'm about to pack up my family and move to the jungle..." Can you imagine?!?! :)

kristen said...

i think tanis lives very near a friend of mine who was talking about that mall...she's a blogger too. if i decide to ever go visit, i'm definitely wearing a name plaque with all the info. that canada now seems to require, like knowing where your host lives.

i'm just glad when they took you aside there wasn't a need for a cavity search, feh.

glad you lived to tell about it.

kristen said...

i think tanis lives very near a friend of mine who was talking about that mall...she's a blogger too. if i decide to ever go visit, i'm definitely wearing a name plaque with all the info. that canada now seems to require, like knowing where your host lives.

i'm just glad when they took you aside there wasn't a need for a cavity search, feh.

glad you lived to tell about it.

Gwen said...

Funny. And awesome.

Ironically, I've had troubles w/ Canadian airport security peeps, too. What's up with that, Canada?

mamatulip said...

Every time I cross the border I get the third degree from the US Customs people. Every. Single. Time.

And when I cross back in to Canada they're all, "Go ahead" with a wave of their hands.

Strange.

So. You didn't mention the temperature at all in this post. The cold didn't get to you, eh?

Denguy said...

Since when are the Mounties doing airport security?

I've never had any problems ever at Canada customs. My worst experiences are always with the USA customs nazis--except that time I went to Texas, they were as sweet as honey.

By the way, it's -22 degrees here today (-8F), was it like that out west?

Indigo said...

I'll never forget visiting relatives in Buffalo and deciding to cross over and see Niagara Falls. It was the US Customs that put the fear of God into you. They asked everyone in the car to state their name and date of birth, where they came from, where they were going. No problem. Except my little 2 year old daughter was asleep in my arms in the back seat. Apparently they thought she was a stow-away since she didn't answer. When I tried to tell them she was only two, they yanked the back door open and went to grab for her. Talk about Mother Bear mode. When the idiot realized she was so little, he asked me her date of birth and name. I told him between clenched teeth. Then I asked him for his name and badge number...

I didn't make that trip again for years!

(Hugs)Indigo

Indigo said...

I'll never forget visiting relatives in Buffalo and deciding to cross over and see Niagara Falls. It was the US Customs that put the fear of God into you. They asked everyone in the car to state their name and date of birth, where they came from, where they were going. No problem. Except my little 2 year old daughter was asleep in my arms in the back seat. Apparently they thought she was a stow-away since she didn't answer. When I tried to tell them she was only two, they yanked the back door open and went to grab for her. Talk about Mother Bear mode. When the idiot realized she was so little, he asked me her date of birth and name. I told him between clenched teeth. Then I asked him for his name and badge number...

I didn't make that trip again for years!

(Hugs)Indigo

ewe are here said...

Kind of scary.

I've never had a problem visiting Canada, but the US Border people did give my husband-to-be (at the time) grief when we crossed over into the states for my dad's funeral! They kept wanting to know if we were planning to get married while we were there... umm, no, burying a parent, people!

jen said...

MT: It totally wasn't even cold. More Canadian hype! Ha!

Den: What, not everyone is a Mountie?!?!

Beck said...

Canadian police are a bunch of thugs. You're lucky they didn't taser you.
Other than that - did you have fun?

Redneck Mommy said...

Perhaps the Immigration dudes would have been more friendly if you hadn't tried to smuggle in all those illicit Mexican sex toys for me and if you hadn't just tweeted about offering them sexual favours.

Just a thought.

I'm glad you came love.

But I don't regret not letting you get all redneck-y with my husband.

I've seen you naked.

One look at you and he'd never want me again.

And one roll in the hay with Boo and you'd never want to leave.

So I was doing us all a favour.

Or at least, I was thinking of J and myself.

Heh.

Will said...

Posts like these remind me that I don't need to travel because my smart-ass mouth is going to win me a full body cavity search in some foreign land someday. And if it were in the noble pursuit of visiting a certain redneck in the wilds of Alberta, then I'd never hear the end of it from her.

Assertagirl said...

Weirdness! I've never had that much trouble with the Mounties. Heheh, "mount."

Glad you had fun here in Canada! Next time come to Toronto.

patches said...

Customs sucks, but at least it ended well. Try entering a country twice in three days, that really makes them take notice.

Kyla said...

Canada sure is thorough.

Glad you had a nice time!

Magpie said...

You have all the fun.

Janet said...

We are strict muthaf*ckers.

You should have brought donuts to ease your way in. Just sayin'.

Amber said...

Maybe short stays trigger something in the computer. Like drug running or something. In which case it's a good thing you didn't bring up the jungle. ;-)

I'm glad you enjoyed the mall. I've been there - it's crazy. I credit it to the cold weather in that part of the country. They need indoor entertainment!

meno said...

Must be those shifty eyes of yours!

*snort*

Maybe they were trying to flirt?

Blog Antagonist said...

RACIAL PROFILING!!!!

You must look very sinister in real life.

I didn't get grilled like that when we travelled to Paris in '93 right after the bombings. I did worry a little about being gunned down though. The "flic" in the airport were carrying maching guns!

I know it's necessary but GEEZ.

Glad your visit was nice, otherwise.

Anne V said...

Hi, I read Tanis' post about your visit and thought I would check out your blog. I work for the Canadian government in an area related to organized crime strategies and I can tell you that a short description of your visit probably set off their suspicions for a smuggling or contraband run. Short, expensive, meeting a contact you can't really identify, the area of Canada you are visiting and possibly your physical description (no idea about that since I am new to your blog) all add up. I'm betting that is what set you off.

QT said...

This is too hysterical!

Amy Y said...

I'm sad to admit that I've never been through customs as the only time I've ever left the country was for a cruise to the Bahamas when I was nearly 16.

Other than that ordeal, the rest of your trip sounds just lovely!!

Oh, The Joys said...

How quickly you forget me and time spent in my fair state. Or did he mean RUSSIAN Georgia?

carrie said...

I think anyone with the name "mounties" has to make up for it by having a totally dickwad type of personality.

Don't take it personally.

painted maypole said...

it must be because they are not allowed to have their horses in the airport. how can you be a real mounty without your mount?

flutter said...

what is the purpose of this post?
what time did you first think of writing this post?
does this post have plans to spend time in Canada?
If so, how long?
What is this post's last name?
and social?
and vocation?

Becca and Adam said...

haha i found your blog through Tanis' . . . that exchange just made my day. they do ask the weirdest questions at border control. Since I'm Canadian living in Georgia, and I work for a non-profit with homeless kiddos . . . I felt a bond immediately haha :-)

mommyknows said...

Ah, yes ... Canadian customs! I think the only job prerequiste is: YOU MUST BE AN 'A CLASS' ASSHOLE!

Oh the stories I could tell, but this is your blog!

kgirl said...

um, the harshest they got was to ask you about the weather back home, and you were scared?

dude, canadians ALWAYS talk about the weather, and the fact that you didn't even mention the temp up here? not excusable. bordering on offensive.

Maggie, Dammit said...

Yeah, I fear the Canadian border patrol more than I fear my own children -- and THAT is saying something.

But, Tanis! How very, very worth it.

Mad said...

Frankly, I think it's because the Mounties need to keep our malls safe from the likes of you. Poor West Ed. I'm sure the rollercoasters and dolphins will never be the same.

Haley-O said...

Glad you guys had fun! Sorry our border peeps gave you a hard time.... but, it made for entertaining blog material!? ;)

deb said...

That mall and those sea lions are Miss Katie's favorite things. Hope you had a good time. It was freaking cold last weekend.

a li'l bit squishy said...

Hey Jen!! You were within minutes of my house and across the street from the hospital where I work! What still amazes me is how Canada was blamed for our lax security when it came to terrorists flying US domestic planes in the aftermath of 9/11. Sorry that you had to experience our "tough" side.
When I travel through the US for trips to South America I am always surprised at how well I am treated by US customs. They've even pulled me from the internationsl line up where they are electronic fingerprinting and photographing all the other internationals and put me through the US citizenship line. Smiled, nodded, have a nice day. No prints or photos. Very enjoyable.

Just Pure Lovely said...

Shoot. I'd have said "yes" to the Georgia question, thinking they meant "Georgia, the state north of us." That would've caused a plethora of questions, so I'm glad you were right on the spot with your quick answers. Way to go!

motherbumper said...

Canada was just being nosey, Canada likes to talk about the weather, and Canada was obviously trying to pick you up. And can you BLAME CANADA?

Anonymous said...

Visiting from Tanis' blog..I'm a Canuck who had even worse trouble landing in London England with my 80 year old husband (I'm 66..so we sure do 'look suspicious'!!)We said we were going to lecture at various Universities and they had made all our living arrangements - we had no idea of an address, nor 'first' names, only Dr. So & So..they called us "Stupid Tourists" so damn many times and said we needed a 'Landing Address". I bit my tongue and came thisclosetotellingthem that I don't have a Dad or several Uncles because they landed without an address to pull their sorry a**es out of a little thing called the Second World War. Thanks for letting me vent - and 'No', Tanis is right - those weren't Mounties - they were Customs guys..IQ's of a radish! Sorry for your troubles but happy to hear your visit was a success - those Rednecks know how to treat a gal, huh?? West Ed Mall - and did you have wine in a box?? Yahoo!!

crazymumma said...

honey....its because you did not have the hideous hat head that we canadians sport at this time of year. They were just jealous.

bet you had a good time.

uh huh. yeah. not jealous AT ALL.