There was a time when that was the case...and as long as we avoided peak traffic times, we could be back and forth in no time. In my teen years, we went across the border often...just to go rollerskating...or visit Shakey's Pizza. No passports, birth certificates or letters from our parents were required...and no questions were asked. We live in a new age!
Yesterday I had my day all planned out. I was on my way to the airport to pick up my sister...but left myself one hour to make a slight detour across the border to pick up a parcel. That should be plenty of time...one would think.
Thinking I might have some time to sip coffee while waiting in queue at the border...I stopped by Tim's on the way.
As it turned out...there was next to no line-up...and before I knew it...I was face to face with the US customs agent. I had my passport ready...and told him my destination was the parcel pick-up depot one block from the border. He took my passport into his booth...then informed me that my car had been chosen for a 'random' search. I was required to pull into the designated spot and go inside.
Oh...oh! By now I had a sinking feeling...wondering how long this might all take...and if I would make it to the airport on time to meet the incoming West Jet flight. I grabbed my coffee and went inside...where I was informed there was no food or drink allowed...and so my coffee was deposited in the nearest trash can (I'm in the USA now...so I must not call it a garbage can). Next I was required to fill out a form...and admit that I had visited a dairy farm in the last two weeks (it's really hard to get around that one!). Then I was asked all kinds of questions about what might or might not be in my car. Good question...since I hadn't really checked it out too carefully. Was I carrying any knives or sharp items? I hesitated a moment, because I might just have a nail file...did that count? Oh...and I had a crochet hook. By now I was wracked with guilt...and sure I had broken all kinds of laws. How much US cash was I carrying? None. How about Canadian cash? I proceeded to empty out my wallet right there and then...just to be sure I wasn't giving any wrong answers. My mouth was dry (I really needed that coffee)...and my palms were damp. Once the interrogation was complete...I was asked to take a seat and remain there while my vehicle was inspected. Other than CD's, sunglasses, and a few sundry items in the console...the car was empty...so I'm not exactly sure where they looked...or what for ...but after some time, they returned to inform me that I was a free
man woman and could enter the United States of America. Oh joy! I quickly hustled off to Ship Happens...picked up the parcel that was waiting...and returned to the border once again. The Canadian customs officer didn't seem to think I looked suspicious at all...and allowed me back into my country with barely a second glance.
And, if you happen to live in the USA...I can assure you that your border guards are doing a fine and thorough job of serving and protecting you all!