Wednesday, January 03, 2007

That Poop Smell? That Would Be Me at US Customs

There aren't many things in life that scare me. Sure, there's snakes. And cliff edges with no rail. And Paris Hilton's hair weaves. But really, that's all minor stuff.

The one thing that scares me, is customs. Most customs officers, really, but something about US customs officers makes me shit my pants every single time. I don't know what it is. Actually, I do know what it is. It's the fact that I'm treated like a terrorist every single time I try to enter the country. And this isn't just post 9/11. I'm talking I've had issues with them questioning my every intention of coming to the US from my first business trip to Atlanta when I was a young and innocent 23-year old.

I don't know if they enter a note in the system every time they have a suspicion about you, so that now, I have a long laundry list of "she's weird" next to my smiling picture in the system. Maybe they have naked pictures of me and they're so horrified by the state of my ass and lower abdominal, they hesitate to let me back in.

Whatever their reason might be, it does nothing to alleviate my fear of them. And because I'm so petrified, I screw myself over every time. yesterday, upon departing Montreal, our not-so-friendly US customs officer asks if all of us are US citizens. He mumbled. I heard the word residents. So I say yes. Two seconds later, he is brandishing my Canadian passport in the air, like it's his roommate's filthy underwear. "You're not a citizen," he spits.

"Uhm, no," I acknowledge, confused. "I'm a resident."

"That's not the same thing," he smirks, reminding me that I should feel inferior for not being born in the land of the free and the supersize value meal.

Next thing I know, I'm being asked 50 questions about my green card and my answers apparently aren't enough to get past the evil troll to the land of magic beans.

And so I get brought to a room that can only be described as purgatory, as a dozen immigrants wait to find out if they will be allowed to continue on their journey.

And there we wait, for half an hour. With a toddler. Who really, really wants to run behind the counter and play in the customs' officers' offices. We try to explain to him that he's about to get his Maman deported forever. He doesn't care. He'll sell out his own mother for five-minutes of fun, he is a toddler afterwards.

I wait, trying to hold my weakening intestines together. Plus I have a very, very full bladder that was begging to be emptied while we were waiting in line for an hour to be checked in for our flight. It's now screaming at me, threatening to spill all over Uncle Sam's pretty blue hard plastic chairs.

Half an hour later, a gentleman comes out and apologizes for my being detained, saying there was nothing wrong with my paperwork. I thank him and want to beg him to put a note in my customs file that says something like "cool chick. And has very smooth-looking elbows and a very strong bladder. Let in with no questions."

And so we continue on our journey home. Only to board a plane and sit behind Celine Dion for 3 and a half hours.

Fine, it wasn't actually Celine Dion. Just some Quebecker 40-year old woman who sang along with her iPod at the top of her lungs while I was trying to get Little Man to sleep. Surely murdering someone to protect your child's hearing and your sanity isn't a crime in this country?

I want to end this post by letting you know that my mother only flipped out once. She called me an inconsiderate evil person who always treats her like she has Alzheimer's, simply because I pointed out that Newsworld, the Canadian CNN, had already played the Sydney Australia fireworks five minutes before and she'd already made the comment "oh, Sydney had its fireworks."

For the record, she had already seen the story. She had already made the comment. And me saying "yeah, I know, you already said it five minutes ago when they ran that story for the hundredth time then" does not make me the Canadian equivalent to Saddam Hussein.

Well, maybe it does and that's why US Customs hates me so much.

Happy New Year!




Emma in Canada said...

She never really called you inconsiderate did she? Mothers are crazy in general I think. My mother was tagged by Canadian customs because she flew to England three times in one year and her citizenship card was in her married name but her passport was in her reclaimed maiden name. She was told that if she flew again she might be refused ebtry back in. So she had to change the last name on her card. Long wonded, but my point was they probably have tagged you for some stupid non issue.

Emma in Canada said...

umm...entry and winded. I really can spell.

susan said...

Sounds like the holidays were overall a good time? Call me! :)