“The Other Border” series is great. The articles made me think of how I always go across the border, performing the required task of flashing my license at a device that takes its picture and sends it right to my questioner.
I don’t drink or smoke or own firearms so I can truthfully say that I have none in my car. It takes one full minute and I’m popular with the cars behind me, because I’m so non-threatening and truthful that I’m on the road immediately.
But one time, many years ago, in my mid-50s, I drove to Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island on my dream vacation. My daughter gave me pepper spray, which I thought was Mace and very dangerous, but I took it to make her feel better.
I crossed our border station successfully to spend a few days first at our cabins in Ontario, then crossed back into the United States at the Rice Lake station. And for the first time, I was asked if I had pepper spray and I said, and this killed me, “nope.”
“Pull over there, ma’am,” he said, directing me to another building. The agents inside were cheerful and polite, and put me in a room with a desk and two chairs. They said they needed to search my car and left me to sweat the thought of spending time in prison for lying to a federal agent. The pepper spray was in my purse.
When the officer came in I began to babble like a crook who has just decided to rat on someone: herself. He told me that it was a good thing I had come clean before they found it themselves or I would never have been allowed to come back into the country. I thanked him many, many times, handed over the contraband and was on my way to yet another crossing to my destination.
I couldn’t figure out how he knew to ask that question (a middle-aged lady going by herself to Prince Edward Island, and a twitch in my eye when I said, “no?”). Those are most likely, now that I’ve watched shows about Customs and Border Patrol, and read the articles. These men and women are good. Real good.
Thanks for the memories and a look behind the scenes.