As we started our much-anticipated road trip to California, we thankfully made it through the border without incident. In fact, Gail actually let me talk to the Border Guard and I didn’t have to pretend I was asleep in the back seat with the boys. I think I’ve finally gained Gail’s trust back when it comes to crossing the border. But it’s taken a while…and looking at the evidence I can’t really blame her.
My Border Blunders started way back in high school. I can’t remember if we were in grade 11 or 12, or if we were 16 or 17 or 18 years old. All I remember is that there were 4 of us and we weren’t that smart.
After buying a bunch of clothes and a new Nintendo system in the States, we headed north back towards the border only to stop about 15 minutes from the crossing. Being young and impressionable and immature, we decided that we weren’t going to claim everything (anything???) and we proceeded to throw out all of the boxes and receipts for the merchandise. We put on our new clothes, even ON TOP of our older stuff. I remember wearing 2 shirts, a sweater and 2 jackets up top, and 2 pairs of pants below. Needless to say, I was very warm. And unable to move. My Einstein friends even hid the new Nintendo underneath the spare tire in the trunk.
So we got to the border, and my friends Javier and Dave (the 2 front seat guys) were called into the building for more questioning, leaving Yumi and me in the back seat to ponder our fate. I’m not sure what tipped the Border Guard off, but I’m guessing it was the fact we all looked like we were wearing those inflatable sumo suits. Add the fact that we were 4 teens, and it was probably a no-brainer.
Speaking of no brains, I then saw my Einstein friends being accompanied to the trunk of the car. I knew this wouldn’t turn out too well. Sure enough, they found the Nintendo and admonished us for being stupid kids. As I almost passed out of heat exhaustion, I couldn’t really disagree with them. They let us go, but not before explaining that they could have easily given us a record that would make our future border crossings very messy.
Border Blunders #2 and #3 occurred with the same people: my wife Gail, and my best buds Gerard and Rich, but on two different trips. I’m surprised I’m still married and have friends.
On one trip, we were heading into the States when the officer asked me if I knew everyone in the car. Simple question. Should have given a simple answer. I looked over at Gail (my girlfriend at the time) and said: “Yeah, I know her…but I have no idea who those 2 in the back are.” Being young and impressionable and immature, I thought I was funny. My grin changed to distress in about 0.35 seconds flat as I saw the officer contemplate his next move. Thankfully, it was to let us through, but only after he reviewed all of the documentation.
Border Blunder #3 was the worst incident, but makes for the best story. The same Fateful Four were travelling back from the States, and I had amazingly answered all the questions simply and honestly: so well that the officer had actually let us through. But being young and impressionable and immature, I asked him:
“How do you decide which cars to check inside?”
Remember…he had already given us the “Have a nice night.”
So he answered, “Well, why don’t we check YOURS?”
If looks could kill, then I would have required 3 obituaries as Gail, Gerard, and Rich had to get out of the car with me. We had nothing to hide, so I wasn’t worried at all. It’s not like we had a Nintendo stashed in the trunk or anything like that! And I was only wearing one layer of clothing. I was more worried about my travelling companions. Would they forgive me? Hopefully. Would they find this mildly amusing? Absolutely not. Would they leave me in Surrey to walk home? Quite possibly.
After the not-so-routine inspection, we re-entered the car and drove back to Richmond. I can almost remember every song on the CD player…because there sure wasn’t a lot of conversation on the way home. At least not with me.
I’m no longer young, I’m sometimes impressionable, and the jury is still out on my maturity level. But after 3 blunders I’ve learnt my lesson: sometimes less is more, and some things are better left unsaid. Especially at the border.