November Monkeyness

Blork have announced the November Monkey, called “Border Stumbles”. I can’t decide which story to offer, so I’ll do both:

1) After a very eventful trip to Norway one December (which is another long and intriguing story in itself) we ended up in Calais, France, catching a ferry to Dover, England. We’d spent the past 10 days eating, sleeping, and smoking illicit substances in my friend Philip’s Golf GTI, so the inside of the car had an interesting aroma, and the two of us looked quite unkempt. Of course, arriving in Dover the customs man signalled us to pull over. As soon as I wound down the window, his nose wrinkled. He asked us where we’d been, and I reeled off a list of countries and cities. As soon as I said Amsterdam, he said “step out of the car please”. Four customs officers ripped our car apart, including tearing into a petrol soaked fruit cake (don’t ask) they found in the back. They then took us to separate rooms, and strip-searched us, with not quite the full rubber glove treatment, but close enough. After finding nothing they begrudgingly let us go.

2) Jen and I were driving down to Vermont for the weekend, and because I’m not a Canadian citizen, we had to stop at the border for me to get a visa waiver. The first weird thing to happen was when the customs officer discovered I was British and asked “Oh, do you like fox hunting?” Well of course, every Brit keeps a pack of hounds handy in case there’s a fox to tear apart. The second annoyance was that they had started charging $6 for the visa waiver. Neither of us had cash, so I had to walk back to Canada to get some from the duty free shop. Nobody stopped me from doing that by the way. The final oddity was while waiting for the one-finger-typist officer to enter my details (into an Excel spreadsheet no less), I noticed a small piece of paper by the keyboard with a list of words on it. I’m pretty sure it was a list of the passwords for their computer system…

3 thoughts on “November Monkeyness”

  1. I am so proud of my countrymen. (shaking head sadly)
    When I first started to realize I may want to live in Canada I was making many trips from Philly to North Hatley (near Sherbrooke)with a hatchback full of crap I thought I needed. On one trip back up (still without a student or work visa) I decided to try and go across at a smaller crossing to avoid waiting in line. I had a car full of dirty laundry and other things one has after a trip. The gung ho border guy (young and obviously new and nervous) basically tore my car apart looking for god knows what. He pulled out a camera and asked me what it was. I replied “camera”. Then he asked me what it was for. I replied “for taking pictures”. He looked disgusted at my lack of co-operation. He then started to go through the pockets of my pants in my suitcase. When he thrust his official border hand into my bag of pre-worn underwear I stared laughing. I was then taken inside for questioning with my travel companion, an unemployed Quebecois. In the end, he let us continue up, but I never went to a small crossing again.

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