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FF Sparks (Casual)

O Canada

So, I was driving wonderwombat back to Chilliwack after our excursion to Maryland. No real trouble with the Canadian border guards, as usual... but the American guard on the way back held me up for a loooong time.

See, apparently, he didn't believe I was American. I've had a Canadian border guard think I was Canadian on the way up once, before asking citizenship, just on the grounds that I knew how to pronounce 'Vancouver' correctly, but that was pretty minor. This time, it was a little surreal.

Now, keep in mind he had my driver's license (issued in Washington state), my birth certificate (which said I had been born in Seattle), could see my car's license plates (Washington plates) and looked up the registration during all this (which is a Seattle area registration). Yet for some reason which eludes me, he was convinced I was a Canadian trying to sneak into the US, and so wished to deport me back 'home' to Canada. My theory is that it must've been because he was rather rude to me, yet I tried to be unfailingly polite to him; evidently, only Canadians can be polite when snarked at or something.

In the end, he asked me questions about Seattle landmarks and history to see if I was actually familiar with the city, and finally -- faced with myriad bits of evidence that despite my increasing disgust with my country's border patrol I was, in fact, American -- he let me go on through and head home.



I used to have a government-to-government visa to the United States. In arlier years, that visa was almost a guarantee for a speedy processing through customs and immigration. Since 2002, it was a guarantee for a lengthy interrogation before being allowed into the country.

Even though the visa would have been valid for a while still, and even though I am exactly as eligible for that class of visa still, I had the visa rescinded. I have no longer any desire to visit the U.S.A., despite the number of relevant conferences there that I would benefit from.
I can't say as I blame you. I'm not sure why the Gestapo over here is intent on destroying the airline industry and any form of personal interstate commerce, but they are... until we have a change of administration, at least, don't even bother. (Here's hoping that'll mean something positive.)

(I've found that the real tip-off to a Canadian accent is the way they say "about".. it comes off sounding vaguely Scots, like, "aboot" only not quite that long.... where we Americans say "abowt"...)
It's actually "abow-oot" on the west coast, and "aboot" on the east coast. Since R was crossing the border around here, the difference isn't that noticeable.

However, Canadians -are- unfailingly polite in hostile situations for a couple of reasons; a) as a culture we hold good government above personal freedom (which, oddly enough, has resulted in more personal freedoms for us than you guys south of the border) and b) there's a cultural art of being snarky by being excessively polite, which I think we adopted from the British. Also, we don't have the swagger-factor of being armed, so we have to deal with tense situations diplomatically.
Either the guy was overly paranoid, tremendously bored, or just plain an ass.

Maybe he thought you had explosives stuffed down your shirt.
Obviously, you were the guy's required harassment for the evening. I recall with amusement the time when an overzealous border patrol guy tried to arrest Gary as a Hispanic illegal, regardless of the fact that he looks nothing like a Hispanic illegal, and in fact looks like your typical long-haired computer geek guy. We still call him Joaquin occasionally, just for entertainment. :)
Gary? Hispanic?


That's like saying I look Aryan.
His name, Jose Jiminez? :)
You sure that wasn't what he thought was a great way to flirt with you?

Bizarre. Evidently, your IDs must look particularly fake.
Yeah, maybe just their required harassment for the day?
Remember this same border patrol also once acused my 70 year old parents of smuggling cocaine. Mrr? They just go insane paranoid sometime.
I don't think we've ever had a problem getting home to Canada... Canadian guards are always attentive, but it's the same three questions:

How long were you in the US?
How much merchandise did you bring back?
Great... welcome home, folks. Carry on.

The only time we've been quizzed has been with US guards. You know the story behind the interrogation that debbo, my hubby and I got... heh. But I can understand why we got interrogated. Your situation... there was no excuse. Wow. Sorry you had to go through that, though Canada would no doubt loved to have kept you. ;)
I need to vent some cynicism. The current attitude of the Border Patrol seems to be "Why would you want to visit a foreign country anyway? You can't be happy just staying home on the farm? Well, you can just stay there in your foreign country if you don't like Merkuh enough to always stay right here."
Surreal. But unfortunately, not unbelievable.

BTW, sorry I missed you in MD. Hope you had a good time.
My experience was slightly different.

But I did go through hell just to get my birth certificate in the first place (a result of the state of Pennsylvania being one of the most evil institutions on the planet Earth), so perhaps it was just displaced.

Nor were we even searched. Having a minivan overloaded with stuff may have helped that.

Everybody was really nice, though the Canadian border guard seemed to be absolutely nonplussed that I carried no firearms. The Alaskan border guard even let me use the potty.