O, Canada!

by JL Beeken on 10-26-2009

O, Canada!I’m still quite tired from my recent trip to the U.S. The flat-tire saga was only one of my adventures.

I almost didn’t make it back into Canada. I had been so consumed with getting a U.S. passport, it never even occurred to me that crossing the Canadian border to come home could be a problem.

They held me for 2 hours taking everything out of my car, opening it, sniffing it and asking me what it was and what I used it for. Right down to the cornstarch that I use for talcum powder instead of a scented brand from the drugstore.

Then, they phoned, faxed and Internet-searched every immigration department they could think of and, apparently, I don’t exist.

I showed them a wallet stuffed full of Canadian ID and it didn’t matter. They said my brand-new driver’s license photo doesn’t look like me anyway. The point was they couldn’t find me in the God-Almighty Immigration Database.

Ever get the feeling you’ve just landed in outer-space? You’re driving along thinking What a fine day, I should be home by five and all of a sudden the whole world is inhabited by blue aliens with ray guns.

After the sun had gone down and I’d been left standing in the freezing air long enough to get chilled to the bone, they invited me into their little spaceship where I got to sit in one of only three seats, squashed between 2 other persons of suspicion. The photocopied landed immigrant document that I’ve been using for 30 years had suddenly become unacceptable and they couldn’t find anything else.

The original document was probably stapled into my original passport about 50 years ago and I threw it in the trash about 35 years ago, not realizing the importance of it. Funny how these things can come back to haunt you.

Don’t you wish your ancestors had had a little more foresight when it came to keeping documents? Like, how long would it have taken to scribble down a few notes and address them to Descendants 2009, I know you’re going to be looking for this, …

Battlestargalactica continued. There were 8 uniformed officers with guns and walkie-talkies going back and forth and back and forth, tap, tapping on their computer keyboards and their fax machines and their telephones. Nope, still no me. They asked for the names of the rest of my family. Nope, they don’t exist either.

I was tired. I was hungry. I was thirsty. I was cold. You could have sucked the remaining air out of me with a straw.

Just about the time I was beginning to wonder if they were going to chain me to the chair overnight, they decided I was probably not a threat to Canada. (Good insight there.) And what they would have to do is send someone in a gas-mask down into the dusty Federal archives to retrieve some actual paper, since it appeared that I’d lived in the country for so long I wasn’t in their computer database yet.

I was let go with a stern warning to get proper identification before attempting another border-crossing. No problem. I’ll get right on it.

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