Wednesday, May 07, 2014

crossing the border

awright. so some days ago i was on my way to eustis, maine (go look it up for yourself) and i took a little side trip on the way that had me heading north on route three.

now, here's a thing about travel in this area of the US: route 3 ends up in canada. route 27 (which is the next north-south road over) ends up in canada. route 201 ends up in canada.

you can't actually cross over from route 3 to route 27 or from route 27 to route 201, (well, you CAN, but only if you like going ten miles an hour on roads that may or may not be washed out or gated shut do for practical purposes you can't) but if you cross over into canada it's no longer trackless wilderness and there are paved roads and towns, because once you cross the border, people actually live there.

so. this side, moose and miles and miles of wilderness. that side, paved roads, farms, and charming villages.

the canadian border guard totally gets why you decided to detour into canada to save time.

the us border guard, not so much, even though he probably TOTALLY lives in stratton and knows why you went through canada, because border guards come in two flavors: regular people who just want t decent job, and hatwipes who like to wear a uniform and boss people around.

i was thinking why so many border guards are in that second category, and i think i have arrived at the conclusion that you have a lot of career choices if you just want a decent job, but if you want to put on a uniform and push people around, you tend to gravitate toward jobs like prison guard or border patrol where you get to do things to people who are at your mercy and you don't have to answer to anyone for it.

the canadian border guard asked me a LOT of questions, but i sort of got the feeling that it was a slow day and he was having a good time with me. he was nice enough, but he asked WAY more personal questions than i'm comfortable being asked, but it's their country and they have the right to turn me back if they don't want me to come in. it was friendly, though, and he made chitchat with me about his uncle and camping and such.

so then he runs my EDL to see what  databases i might appear in, and he came back out and told me that i score double zero. he pleasantly explains that this means i am not in either of the giant databases of undesirables of different degrees, and also that there are surprisingly few people with my last name in either of those databases.

i am not surprised by it; mine is a fairly uncommon last name except in some small clusters.

my double zero score makes me feel more confident coming back into the US.

the US border guard is entirely less pleasant. he wants to know what exactly i have in my car (it is full to the brim with camping gear and athletic equipment). he wants to know exactly where i plan to be camping. it is not ok with him that i'm going to camp in eustis on the PRL parcel somewhere. he wants to know WHERE.

you can't know that, because the sites are first-come-first served. since this man probably LIVES in eustis, there is no reason for him to press this issue except because he CAN.

the conversation goes on like that.

let's just say he's not happy that i don't actually know the names of the internet acquaintances i intend to visit. i know them as "kayaking loon", ok? as far as they're concerned, my name is flask.

used to be they asked you if you had anything to declare and asked a couple of questions to check who you are and check you out a little. but you had the right of free travel.

now everyone is a suspect, and if the DHS had their way they'd have checkpoints everywhere instead of just in the civil-rights-free zone near the borders. so now you are a criminal suspect if you want to go to quebec or new brunswick.

good job, gubmint.


Dumpsterkitty said...

You know, even before the security theatre it was like that. I remember my first "trip" to Canada. Must have been 1981 or 1982.

We were in Niagara Falls for a convention and wanted to walk over to Canada. Stopped at the Canadian booth...joking...chit chat...told us we had figured out the secret to get into Canada was to walk since the car crossing was averaging 2 hours that summer. Wished us a pleasant stay with a recommendation where to get a cuppa.

Took us 30 minutes of rude abrupt questions to get back in. Like they were totally pissed we had enjoyed the few hours in Canada. We didn't go back the Canada again that trip 'cause it was such a hassle to come back.

Kristin @ Going Country said...

When we detoured through Canada on our way to Wisconsin a few years ago, we went into and out of Canada on the same day. On the way in, the Canadian guard asked us only if we had any weapons in the car. On the way out, the American guy (who sounds much like your one) asked all about the wood in the car we were bringing to my dad, what was in our cooler, and a lot of other stupid stuff. Then he confiscated our grapes, because they were grown in Mexico. Never mind that we bought them in the U.S. He took them anyway.

So, in summary: Canada is concerned about guns coming into their country, and the U.S. is concerned about . . . grapes.

God Bless America.


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