Thursday, August 27, 2009

America On Guard for Thee

A dangerous looking pair.
I may at some time have mentioned that the Canadian U.S. border lies eight miles directly south of where I live, on what they call the Coast Meridian Road. It’s about a half hour drive for us so we often opt for a day in the “States.” There’s a lot to do in beautiful Washington State and Bellingham is only fifty miles down the highway. We like to go shopping, eat a nice lunch or dinner by the sea, or even just to fill up with good American gasoline that is always cheaper than ours. (Although we have the most available oil of any country in the world right now—but go figure.)

Even though that crossing directly south of us is the easiest to access we don’t usual take it. It’s the major entry point on Interstate 5 between the two countries and the line-ups can be horrendous. So the other day—a beautiful end-of-August day—we decided we wanted to look at the shops in Bellingham’s Bellis Fair Mall and have an excellent seafood dinner down by Bellingham Bay. We started out early to drive inland to the crossing at Lyndon, Washington which takes us through lovely farming country on either side of the border—a much less crowded route.

It was a Monday and surprisingly the line-ups were huge even way out there in the “sticks?” So it took us over an hour to get up to one of the Inspection Stations. Our passports were ready, we answered the usual questions about where were we off to and how long would we be in the States. But, imagine our surprise and dismay when the officer said, “I want you to drive into the bay over there for an inspection. Someone will go through your car so it will take some time. You’ll get your passports back when you’re finished.”

Now we are seniors and our faces will attest to over three score and some years of living and our fair share of sunshine. My husband is greying and I have silver white hair. We really don’t look all that suspicious nor do we look like we could be a threat to anyone. But those border guards are big and brawny and they carry guns, so you don’t really want to mess with them. And the sign says that if you disobey there can be a $250,000 fine and up to ten years in jail. We’re not even sure we have ten years left.

We meekly pulled into the bay and with some trepidation, entered the building. Again there are line-ups so the wait until an inspector came to talk to us took quite awhile. I imagine that, if you are carrying anything suspicious in your car, you would begin to sweat. In fact, the fellow in front of us looked very worried and when questioned admitted he had been arrested before. “Right here at the border,” he confessed.

I’m not the most patient person in the world and am apt to voice my feelings in a fairly loud voice about supposed injustices. Looking at the counter and watching some Hispanic people being fingered printed, I said to my husband in a loud whisper, “I’m absolutely NOT going to be fingered printed.”

Pointing again at the signs about jail, he motioned me to “hush up.” I know the look.

Finally our turn came. The inspector was Hispanic himself and gave me a reassuring smile. “This is just a random check, ma’m,” he comforted me. “You don’t have to worry. Have either of you ever been arrested?” Fortunately we never have been; we weren’t carrying guns or marijuana—neither of us has ever smoked a joint actually—and we didn’t even have any liquor in the trunk. We were totally clean. I don’t know if they were disappointed or not. After a thorough search of the car, they handed back our passports and we were soon again on our way south. Still time for window shopping and an early dinner at Bellingham’s beautiful harbour.

But I can tell all you American’s out there. Those border guards are doing their job. You are definitely safe from an invasion by Canadian senior citizens.


  1. I've nominated you for the Kreativ Blogger Award. Check out my blog to claim the logo.

    Keep blogging!

  2. Yes, it all seems like overkill, until something like 9/11 happens. Then it is a tragety that we can't fix.

    I'm more worried about drugs coming up from the south than the visitors from the north.

    Hope you had a good visit in spite of the hassle.