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Letters to Nowhere

Monday, September 20, 2004

'You cant come home again' is true when your Canadian

On the morning of the 9th we woke up, did the mundane things like brushing our teeth (I forgot my toothbrush, told ya!) showering, and drinking the worlds worst hotel coffee.

After checking out of the hotel we took the scenic route (read that as 'got lost') on the way to the WA/Canadian border. I came to a few conclusions.

1. People in that little part of WA don't eat. We passed through little farming town after little farming town with no freaking public restaurants. Or they did have a restaurant but just looking at it made my stomach cramp, and ponder why I didn't get a hepatitis vaccine before the trip.

2. I am easily amused. Les was quietly laughing at my awe at seeing all that rolling prairie land. That was as much elevation as I'd ever seen before. A small dust devil had me gawking unashamedly. Add that to me continually mocking misspellings and ironic wording on various signs we passed.. and well you get the picture.

3. There is truth in the statement "you don't really know someone till you meet them". As long as I've known him and have talked to him about anything and everything that came up I learned more about him in that 5 hr drive then I did in months online. I spent equal amounts of time viewing the countryside and watching him. I'm sure the slightly sweaty hand print I left on his leg was not the best part of the trip for him. But, I couldn't break that physical contact. I had to prove to myself he really WAS there. And, I don't think he minded at all.

We finally entered civilization before starving to death. Our first meal together was unassuming. Mickey D's.. no fancy dinning for us lol. I had a chicken salad, he had a chicken sandwich and fries. He was aware of my eating habits, but was still a bit leery of how little I ate. After having our fill we headed to the border.

Border fun
Having called the Canadian consulate in Atlanta I had everything I needed to cross. Driver's license, birth certificate, a copy of my reservations for flying home, and a carton of cigarettes (be damned if I'm paying $8 for a pack of smokes!)

We, of course, had to go into the building since I had to see immigration. [Insert hysterical laugher here] I, as a US citizen, had a much easier time getting across into Canada than my CANADIAN co-hort. I was less than impressed with my first impression of Canadians.

The border guard was rude, arrogant, and a prick to boot.
"Who's the Canadian?" he abruptly asks as I approach the desk.
Les answered he was.
"Let me see your papers" he barks at me. Wow, so much for polite, courteous, and friendly. Service with a smile? I don't think so. I've gotten more warm and fuzzy feelings from a mammogram technician!

I hand him my papers, he reviews them very briefly. He asks a few inane questions about my citizenship, when I'm leaving, etc. I had to bite back a few caustic remarks I really, really wanted to make about his ability to read. I could already tell this wasn't going to be fun. After a few more minutes he clears me to enter.

He then asks Les to prove his citizenship in Canada. Les produces his drivers license and birth certificate.

"Not good enough" barks border guard. Huh? Not good enough? "That only proves you were born here and are a resident that is allowed to drive, not that you are a citizen" umm ok. Les has his "social security card" (I can't remember what the Canadian equivalent is called) and his national medical coverage card. "Not good enough" is the answer he receives. "you need a passport or a letter of citizenship"

He then launches into this explanation about a new card they want you to have. It's a wallet sized card that states you are a Canadian citizen AND never expires (oh goody). I can see Les getting irritated. His speech is slowing and his vocabulary is edging out of his usual $5 words into the land of $10 wording. My smart ass-ness can no longer be contained..

Me: "You say it never expires?" (That's correct) "So. What your saying then is he can come home with me, become a US citizen and come home to visit family and just flash you this 'it never expires I'm a Canadian citizen' card and slide right through the border?"

BG: "Um, yes. I didn't say it didn't have flaws but that's what we want you to have."

Me: If I move to Canada and don't become a citizen will I receive a "social security card" and national health insurance card like his?

BG: "No, only citizens get those."

Me: And his having them doesn't prove he's a citizen?!? (I was using a polite tone btw but I could see the look in Les' eyes that said 'the minute I can talk I'm gonna end up in jail'. So, I wasn't giving him the chance.)

Border Guard did have the good sense to look a bit abashed by my picking his line of crap apart. Hey, that's just another service I offer. Give me a line of bullshit and I'll have you backpedaling to justify it.

BG: "We won't deny a Canadian entry if he doesn't have the Letter of Citizenship card, if he can show 'all the crap Les already had'". (The implied, we'll just waste 20 minutes of your time needlessly, lingered in the air. It was heard by all.)

My raised eyebrow look was not lost on border guard. Les had gotten control of himself well enough to repeat back almost verbatim the things the guard had told him and we wished him good day and left.

Les was, understandably, furious. Quietly furious, but pissed none the less. He didn't rant, rave, bitch, or moan, he fumed silently.

Thus I entered Canada, land of polite hospitality!


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