Sunday, September 25, 2016

Border Crossing

My wife and I took a scenic drive yesterday and ended up in Canada (this is one of the great things about living in Seattle). Thus, we had to cross the U.S.-Canada border there and back. National border crossings always seem a bit absurd to me; an artificial line drawn in the ground by humans, draped with nationalistic trappings and guarded by gates and lethal weapons.

Borders make me think (admittedly a little out of context here) of something Thoreau wrote: "I saw the fences half consumed, their ends lost in the middle of the prairie, and some worldly miser with a surveyor looking after his bounds, while heaven had taken place around him, and he did not see the angels going to and fro, but was looking for an old post-hole in the midst of paradise."

The Canadian border guard on the crossing northward was cordial. His main concern seemed to be that we weren't bringing any guns across with us (perhaps the mass shooting a day before in a shopping mall a few miles down the road in Burlington, Washington had created heightened concern). He gave us some tips on sights to see while in British Columbia for the day.

The U.S. border guard on the way back was terse and unfriendly as he conducted his interrogation into our activities and intentions. He conveyed the sense that we were under great suspicion for having left the U.S. for a few hours, and any unacceptable answers might detour us into the land of holding cells and cavity searches. He was a young man, and seemed to have left his sense of humor at home, perhaps stowing it away safely in the metal box where he keeps his sidearm when off-duty from the border booth. I'm guessing (hoping) that his steely-eyed, brusque demeanor is merely an affectation-- a role that he plays, like the actors who portray tough guys in crime dramas and war movies.



Anonymous Jim said...

Danny, I've had the same experience every time I've crossed the border from the US into Canada and back--in Vermont, in New York, in Washington, and in Idaho. The Canadian border personnel are unfailingly courteous and welcoming, the US personnel, surly and rude. I hope that non-citizens are treated with more consideration by our US border personnel!

6:58 PM  

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