The Time I Tried Going To Canada, Totally Unrelated To The TSA

Jul 15, 2017 by

The Time I Tried Going To Canada, Totally Unrelated To The TSA

Proud misdemeanors, regrettable felonies, and SWAT team follies at the Canadian border.

Weddings are cool, so Nicole and I were going to drive to one in Syracuse. For some reason we were in Detroit, where the route was exactly an hour shorter when you cut through Canada. This was good news in more ways than one.

Since my terrorism conviction, I’d been wondering if I was allowed into Canada. It seemed like everyone I knew got turned away from the border. And not just other terrorists. Normal people too, turned away for things like old misdemeanor shoplifting convictions (I had those too).

Canada was like that out of touch, easily-excitable small town aunt who still thinks guys with long hair are Communists.

All the evidence pointed to me having no chance of entering Canada. But now I had the opportunity to settle the question conclusively, in a circumstance of low-consequence. I was already on the border. If they turned me away, I was out nothing but a little time. And I would finally have an answer.

We budgeted for a possible worst-case-scenario five-hour turnaround time at the border, left five hours early, and arrived at the border.

The guy at the Canadian border told us to pull to the side.

At least now I had an answer.

They took Nicole and I into a building and put us in separate rooms. This is where it got fun.

The guy on the other side of the glass starts reading from a medium-sized stack of papers. It was my criminal record.

What followed was one of the coolest two hours of my life.

“Let’s start with your theft charge from 1992. What can you tell me about that?”

Oh god. My crude attempt at check forgery, age 14.

And on he went, down the list. Every police interaction, infraction, ticket, proud misdemeanor, and regrettable felony I’d ever been caught for.

  • The time I got dragged home to my parents for dumpster diving at the police station.
  • The time I was accused of picking padlocks and raiding storage units at the luxury condominium complex.
  • The time four friends and myself were caught living in an abandoned house in the state’s wealthiest zip code.

And a lot more. I’d forgotten about half of them.

There are always people you can call to take a trip down memory lane. But none who have privileged access to your records and can walk you through your entire criminal history. Canadian Customs was so cool.

When he got to the last page, two things happened:

  1. I realized I was responsible for more creative criminality in my first 20 years than I’d given myself credit for.
  2. He told me if I ever tried to come back I would be put in a Canadian prison for one year.

I was dismissed.

Nicole was waiting in the lobby. We got in the car and began the 30-yard trip back to the US border.

Back in America…

The US border guy says:

“How long were you in Canada?”

“Two hours. They wouldn’t let me in.”

“Did they give you any paperwork?”

I handed it to him.

While we waited for him to wave us in, I was glad the worst was behind us, and the “worst” just meant I got to reminisce for two hours about how punk I was in high school.

Smooth sailing from here. After all, they couldn’t not let me back into my country.

But they could do other things…

At that moment, 50 feet in front of the car, two doors opened. And 10 guys in full SWAT gear rushed out like ants.

“Driver! Put both hands in the air!”

This was worse than the TSA.

They did the whole open-the-door-with-one-hand, keep-both-hands-where-we-can-see-them, put-your-hands-on-your-head-and-walk-towards-my-voice thing.

Then they put me in a cell and didn’t let me out for 7 hours.

When the door opened again the next morning, it was without fanfare or explanation. Just escorting me out with no comment except something about them having to wait for some office to open to clear my reentry.

“Don’t forget your passport.”

I found Nicole asleep in the lobby. I found my car ransacked. And we’d totally missed the wedding.

At least I got this rare photo from inside a Canadian interrogation room:


-Jetsetting Terrorist

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