I’ve become well-acquainted with border control after getting married to a Canadian, so the anxiety I used to feel about talking to some professional about my intentions in their country has long since abated. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t ever made a fool of myself in front of the people who can make my life very difficult if they want to.
First off, there was the time when my friend and I were traveling to England for the British Grand Prix. It was coinciding with the Fourth of July, and we were appropriately donning our most obnoxious American flag attire. And, of course, when the border agent asked us what we were doing in the country, my good friend made a quip about America being the best country in the world.
This border agent closed both of our passports and looked at us with an expression I have, to this day, been unable to define. I felt my heart sink, wondering if this would result in baby’s first airport cavity search. But thankfully, the kind gentleman let us pass through once he was done scaring the shit out of us.
My other awful story? Driving seven hours from Philadelphia to the Canadian border only to realize, as I am crossing the bridge of no return, that I had forgotten my passport at my apartment. I had instead just grabbed my passport holder, which was not holding my passport.
At that point in time, I was crossing the border so frequently that I always kept my passport in my backpack… but school had just ended for the semester, and I’d done what any sensible grad student would do: I had dumped all the shit out of my bag in a big, sad heap because I no longer had to carry around 400 notebooks and two textbooks that weighed as much as me. During that time, apparently, my passport had escaped the pink holder that I’d been keeping it in, and after getting home from class at 10pm and getting ready to leave for Canada at seven the next morning, it entirely did not register to me that I should open the passport holder, just to make sure.
The Canadian agent was very kind and understanding. She made some calls and accepted my driver’s license, giving me a number to call once I arrived at my husband’s house. The people at the other end of that number would let me know if there was anything I’d need to do before I started my drive back to America. Those people assured me that, no, there was nothing. Just try to avoid doing it again.
The American agent on my way home, though, was a real ass. For some reason, he simply would not believe that I had forgotten my passport in America prior to leaving and grilled me for a solid half hour about my intentions in Canada and whether or not I was a real American. He eventually let me go through, but it was the worst experience I’ve ever had at a border crossing. And that was just trying to get back into my own country.
Does anyone else have any embarrassing border control stories? I want to hear them. Make me feel less bad about my choices.