rookie move

Posted: February 1, 2012 in life is strange

I’m no rookie. I’ve crossed the border many times with my Canadian passport – I’m confident, educated and have a relatively good sense of humor that sometimes can be a bit strange and British in nature.  I’ve learned to temper that humor.  At the border you stay serious.  Don’t crack a joke and look as nice as you possibly can.  Kind of like when your dog has gorged himself on food from the garbage – he knows he’s in trouble so he sits with his head down looking meek, trying to be as nice as possible.  “Nope, no trouble here,” his eyes say.

So it came as a bit of a surprise while standing in the Custom’s line-up in the airport that I started getting nervous. I had filled out extra papers,

I-90 forms and declarations of the t-shirts we bought just in case the custom’s officer felt the need to foil our smooth entry into the country.

I had previous encounters with officer’s that would stamp your paperwork and send you on your way, while another would pull out the I-90 multiple entry card and tell you to fill out another form while requiring you to stand on one foot and recite your name, rank and serial number.  I don’t know why they are all different.  My husband and I have come up with our own theories; lack of caffeine intake for the day, not enough to eat or not having sex the night before.  None of these theories have been proven, of course, as we felt it might be considered as some kind of breach of national security to ask why they were so grumpy.

I notice the other people who cross through with no worries (and an American Passport). They smile and laugh as if they’re part of the Custom’s Officer Club or at least a groupie.  I know I’m not a part of this society but seeing their smiles, I begin to calm down.

It’s our turn.  No small talk.  No smiles.  My son sails through.  He, of course, has that dog that ate the garbage look down pat.  As I hand my expired passport, the one with my American Visa and the I-90 stapled in, I get the look.  Not the “I find you slightly attractive” look but the “are you kidnapping this child, smuggling illegal drugs or carrying a new Health Care Initiative from your socialist country” look.  (God forbid that might get into the hands of the President).  He makes a point of opening my current Visa without looking up.  He studies it for a moment and asks me to place my hand on the scanner.  I switch hands again and wipe the sweat on my jeans before placing it on the screen.  All is well. I’m close now.  I begin to breath easy.

“Okay Ma’am, could you look into the camera please.”  I’m home free.  The last step is a breeze.  But for some reason, I make a rookie move.  I forget all previous training. I step up to the web cam on his desk and push my eye to the sensor as if I’m getting an eye exam.

“Um, Ma’am, could you step back behind the yellow line please?  We just need your picture, not a retina scan.”

I can feel my face blush as if I had taken my clothes off and offered myself for a cavity search.  I fight the urge to say “cheese” and make another novice move.  I look at the customs officer briefly as he hands my papers to me and I’m met with something new.  Could it be?  Yes, I think I see the beginnings of a smile, or is it laughter?  I don’t care which it is.  I had made a custom’s officer laugh.  I could lace my skates and glide across Hell’s arena.  I’m now part of the club.  It was a good day after all.

“Welcome to the United States of America,” he said.



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