Sunday, March 20, 2011
Doin' My Time With The Border Patrol!
Canadian: It seems that all 11 Canadians who do not smoke marijuana have been given guns, tazers, and full control of inspecting cars and drivers at this checkpoint. My first mistake was telling them I am a professional musician. If I told them I was a professional rapist I might have had an easier time. In fact I imagine that the border guard might have even had some suggestions for popular rape locations within the province. Instead I was assured that they did not care whether or not I used drugs. At the same time they repeatedly asked me this question. Afraid to say that I ate a Tylenol that morning to ward off a hangover, I just said no. Are you sure? Yes. Do you play music on the street? It seems that American street musicians have been making off with untold millions in Canadian loonies, equivalent to the GNP of Cambodia. I was unaware. After searching my car, and failing to notice the camera which was sitting on the front seat, the thick necked border guard (this was the thick necked man, the woman was in the booth) asked again if I was going to be playing music. When I informed him that I indeed had no musical instruments in the vehicle he somehow managed to remember. I was shaking when I left, a combination of coffee, lack of substantial breakfast, and having an officer with a gun repeatedly ask me why I was nervous. Thank you Canadian border guards, you are "special."
Americans: I left Vancouver from the set of Twilight Breaking Dawn around 3:30 in order to get to Seattle by a reasonable time. Comical as it may seem, I though I might be able to slip past the watchful eye of the Homeland Security Puppetry and Dildo Division by lying. I told the woman at the booth that I was a welder for Olsson MFG (my former job) and she asked no further questions. She then said I needed to pull to the side for a "random" inspection. It seems that if you look like you are cool you are screwed at the border.
(I forgot to mention that a gasoline canister had spilled in Vancouver and I had been driving with the windows open to prevent death by fume inhalation. I was concerned that they might think I was high. So somewhat nervous, I entered the building)
Inside the building there were two lines. I looked at the slip of paper I had been given and tried to determine which one I needed to be in. I finally got in the longer of the two, because I am that stupid. In the end it took far longer and we were actually made to stand in the other one anyway. Behind me a man came in and asked a bald, experienced looking guard which line he was supposed to stand in. The guard said he didn't know what the difference was. He said either one would work, though at the beginning of the line there was a placard which clearly indicated that they were indeed different. The man behind me chose the other and was probably gone an hour before me. For future reference, choose the shorter line.
Like the Canadian side, the guards took their sweet time looking at the paperwork and processing people. In this instance there were 20 computer monitors that could have been used, and about two officers processing at a rate of perhaps one person every 30 minutes. From all indications the empty computers are dedicated to Farmville and pornography, and are not to be used for any other purpose. It was about 15 minutes that I stood in the line before another cool looking guy walked up behind me. In the 90 minutes that we were standing there we talked about bands we were in, movies and artists we liked, and it was revealed that we were both bloggers (here's to you Seth!). After 90 minutes, we were sent to the other line, by a smug looking guard who was just about to go on break (he had been reading a Dick, Jane and Spot book behind a porno computer). Another 20 minutes and I was ordered to stand in front of a tired looking guard named "Abalone" or something. He was trying to get the attention of another guard who was coughing, by saying repeatedly "it's cause they smoke in the booth. Jones smokes in the booth." When I asked if that was illegal, his glassy eyes looked up and he informed me that it was, and that they don't have very good hiring standards at the border. He was so tired I probably could have loosed my rage right there and it would have been fine. Instead I just answered the few questions he asked me. he wasn't even listening.
Poor Seth had drawn the slow horse. His guard was an Chinese man in his 50's named Li. He was on a mission to extract every possible bit of information that he could from Seth. Asking how he was traveling if he had quit his job (I assume because he had saved money and because he didn't have to go to work). He wanted to know why he wanted to go to Oregon, and Seth said he was moving from Arizona because of the weather. Of course the man was damn near impossible to understand, and probably thought he was some sort of general in an army of the Han dynasty instead of stationed outside of Blaine Washington at the Peace Arch. Abalone did a search of my vehicle (after taking 12-15 minutes to put on hat, gloves and jacket to go out into the bracing 60 degree weather) and I was released. As Seth has not found me on Facebook, it can safely be assumed that he is still at the border.
Well, I hate to inform you that the general report I was going to give has been overtaken by the dedication. I love you border patrol, may your children all become musicians. And live at home their entire lives. And may your necks grow ever thinner and shoulders less stout. Sincerely, Buzzsaw