Border Crossing: A Conversation

Scene: U.S. border checkpoint at Pembina, ND. Both vehicle and passengers are a bit low on fuel after the weekend.

Customs and Border Patrol Agent: “Where are you coming from?”

Ben: “Manitoba.”

All: [laughter]

Ben: “Sorry. Winnipeg. I’ve been doing that all weekend.”

Agent: “Why were you in Canada?”

Me: You don’t want to know. “We were at a conference.”

Agent: “What kind of conference?”

Me: You don’t want to know. “It was the River City Reason Fest conference.”

Agent: “I don’t know what that is.”

Me: You don’t want to know. “It’s a humanist conference. It was basically about building strong communities without religion.”

Agent: “Why would you want to do that?”

Me: I knew you didn’t want to know. “Well–”

Agent: “What would you have to hope for?”

Me: [Puts on sunniest, most inviting smile.] “You should have come to the conference!”

Agent: “Noooope. Not me. I’m a loud-mouthed Texan.”

Me: [Puts on kind, understanding, accommodating smile.] “Well, I won’t try to convince you here.”

Agent: “You wouldn’t [unintelligible].”

Me: I don’t want to know.

Agent: [Hands back our cards.] “Welcome back to the U.S. Have a good day.”

Us: “You too.”

Border Crossing: A Conversation

7 thoughts on “Border Crossing: A Conversation

  1. 1

    We were shocked at our border crossing. The guy was nice. He asked what I did, and when I told him, he wanted to talk about science and his favorite biology professor.

    The difference might have been that he wasn’t a Texan: he said he grew up in Madison, Minnesota.

  2. 4

    My border crossing guard claimed to have been an undergrad at Cuttlefish U. I suspect it was a ruse, though, a segue to asking about the pronunciation of a local river which would, frankly, make a great shibboleth.

    Really nice guy, though.

  3. 5

    That was *all* that happened to you?
    I was detained at the border, asked invasive and repetitive questions, and had my car and luggage searched.
    Entering the United States felt like entering the Iron Curtain.

  4. 6

    Andrew, I get the best of it both ways crossing to and from Canada. I go in as a foreigner to the very polite country and return as a citizen to the…less polite country. I’m also in the Nexus program, which tells everyone I’ve already undergone a security check. That said, the year Ben and I traveled to Canada in his vehicle with commercial markings, Canada did subject us to a search and additional questioning.

  5. 7

    Sorry to hear that you had a rough time crossing the border, Andrew. 🙁 Was good to meet you at the conference, though, and glad you were able to make the trip north!

    Was great to hear (and even get to briefly talk to!) the FtB bloggers who made the trip. Glad the trips back weren’t too eventful!

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