So the wife and I decided to pack up the kids and take a little trip across the border to America’s hat. We were meeting up with some friends of mutual friends for a get together, some of which we hadn’t met before. This, apparently, set off some red flags in the minds of the border patrol agents; my story of a fun adventure to meet people in person I knew only casually otherwise sounded a lot like a possible terrorism suspect transporting guns/drugs/money across the border. I was in for a long, ridiculously polite interrogation.
First off, understand that I had been driving for 12 hours through the night (prime time for baby transport) so my mental filter was set to “open”. Are you a gun owner, sir? Why yes, Mr. Canadian, what self-respecting American isn’t? Any scary black rifles with armor piercing incendiary fragmenting laser-guided bullets in a 500 round clip? Of course!
The next series of questions definitely turned some heads, and cemented their curiosity.
Agent: So, what brings you to Canada?
Me: I’m visiting a friend.
Agent: How did you know this friend?
Me: I met him on the internet. We’re members of a discussion group.
Agent: An online discussion group? What do you talk about?
Me: Oh, this and that. Mostly politics.
And then came the question that finally woke me:
Agent: Do you have any trap doors or secret compartments in your vehicle?
Me: Uhh… what?
Agent: It’s okay if you do! There are a lot of reasons why some people [like you] would want to avoid traditional institutions like banks and have alternative means to keep valuables safe.
At this moment, I realized that I wasn’t just a married father of two crossing a friendly border any more. No, it appears that Canada has significant concerns: “some people” crossing their southern border smuggling in weapons and drugs. Now, where have I heard that before? And why does Mr. Canadian think I could be one of these fine individuals? Was it my mountain man appearance, or do Canadians think American gun owners are potential terrorists? Perhaps they were doing their best to be impartial, like our TSA.
Meanwhile, Ms. Canadian border agent was furiously jotting down notes which I can only imagine determined my ultimate fate and looked something like this:
- Traveling with wife and children
- Driving a ridiculously boring vehicle
- Purports to be visiting a friend’s ski cabin for vacation
- A little TOO white
- Traveling with a convenient cover
- Driving a vehicle with plenty of space to hide guns/drugs/money
- Member of some kind of political “discussion group” joining people he met on the internet in a cabin in the woods, probably in order to plan the assassination of a Canadian politician that no American cares about, but by god needs to be protected.*
In any case, it was the most polite harassment I have ever undergone, at least as polite as being asked 12 times if I was sure I wasn’t smuggling weapons can be. And we only got in to our destination a few hours late. I also had a serious burst of Canadian traffic on my blog, as Ms. Canadian claimed to be technologically retarded (and judging by her computer use, she was telling the truth) and also claimed not to know what a blog even was, so I showed her mine. I’m pretty sure she kicked it around the office, so maybe the CBSA learned something about international travel beyond their border.
*No Canadian politician was harmed or threatened harm in the course of our trip, unless you count general admonitions of Harper’s terrible government by drunk Canadians as harmful.