Posted by: Brielle Brennan | September 10, 2007

Border Crossing Part II (Homeland Security) Canada/USA

Hello everyone.  This is your blog host, Dingo Stewart.  Before I begin, I’d like to wish my paternal grandmother a happy birthday wish today.  If she were still alive, today would’ve been her 100th birthday.  I’m sorry I never had the privilege to meet her, but I have the feeling she still would appreciate the thought.  Happy Birthday Grandma.

Since I last posted my blog, I didn’t get to part two as fast as I would have liked.  Why did I wait until the eve of our six year anniversary of September 11th?  Coincidence.  So for what I’m about to write, if you don’t like what I have to say . . . get over yourself.  This is satire.  If you agree, thank you.  I’m sorry you’ve probably had to go through the same song and dance.  And with that mentioned; here goes.

After attending BarCamp Vancouver 2007, our original party of three (Jay, Martin and myself) packed up and headed back to the border, so we could return to Olympia, WA., USA.  The border wasn’t too backlogged, and I was content in believing this would be a better trip through; than the border crossing into Canada.  You guessed it.  I was wrong.

As we approached the border, Jay, who was holding on to the ‘documents’, gives us the all clear motion and  rolls up to the booth.  The male agent, an older gentleman (I say loosely), looks at our documents, and upon looking at mine, says, “Where’s the rest?”  I’d given Jay my driver’s license and birth certificate, but somehow, the latter was missing.  Don’t ask me how?  It was there when I crossed into Canada, but now, it’s disappeared.  This is when all his attention was focus on me.  This I thought was classic.  My friend Martin’s from Scotland.  Homeland Security had a huge green government form paper stapled to the inside of his British Passport.  Yet Martin was gold, and I became the target of this man’s interests.  I didn’t understand the problem at the time.  Now the agent of Homeland Security begins his questions, and I begin to dance his alien dance with my present crossing, and I am remembering that I must again perform.   I proceed to perform the hoop jumping.

“Ms.  Is the United States a republic, or a democracy?”, the officer asks.  This is huge red flag.  Maybe I should have given him my voter’s registration card instead of my driver’s license.  I should have seen this coming, but he still gets me with his far-right punch.  The officer looks at me.  I look at him, wondering what’s up with the trick question?  So I responded something like this, “Mr. Bush says we’re in Iraq to bring democracy to the Iraqi people.” Okay, now you have my permission to tell me how stupid I am to commit this rookie move.   This did not go over well.  Now, I’m going to give you some advice, especially if you’re stubborn and a dry smart ass like I am.  Anyone, and I do mean anyone, that has a ‘Homeland Security’ job, wants to keep their job, and thus, they like Bush.  If you question Bush, you’re a threat to the employees of the ‘Homeland Security’ team.  Don’t mention Bush unless you’re waving the flag, and singing his praises.  You and I both know that there goes the true drug/arms dealers; but I digress and am probably getting myself into deeper trouble than ever. 

Again, the border officer asks me if we’re a “Republic or Democracy.”  Now, this is getting me upset.  F.Y.I. I suffered from spinal meningitis when I was twenty-five years old.  Ever since, I have times, especially under stress, that synapses (neurological impulse/information passes from one neuron to another) doesn’t occur, and you’ve got it–I’m clueless.  This is my outcome from having a 107 degree F. temperature that fried most of my photographic memory.  (Un)Fortunate for me, most people don’t see my brain damage, and I’m able to pass by the most of the population as a fairly intelligent person.  But not when synapses fail to occur.  So as I’m sure you’ve guessed by now, I’m sitting in a car, with my covered mouth wide open, and nothing comes out.  NOTHING!  And to make matters worse, now the border officer adds to my stress by looking at me like I’m an idiot, or worse, an impostor.  I’m trying to contain myself from bashing my head against something hard, in hopes my brain will switch back on, and I can spare myself from appearing like a deer caught in headlights.  All I can think is, THINK!

So, after a moment of disturbing silence, the border officer prompts me with this tidbit of information.  “You’ll find the answer in the Pledge of Allegiance.”  All I can think is ‘cool’, I can do that.  Wrong.  You guessed it.  After staring at him for what seems like a lifetime, the officer asks me to say “The Pledge of Allegiance.”  All went fine until I got to the part about, ” And for the . . .”   Blank.  Nada.  A Haon.  Nothing!  To save my life, I couldn’t remember ‘Republic’.  This was not only one of my most distressing moments of my life, but the added stress reminded me of feeling as though I was locked behind in the ‘Iron Curtain.’  I attempted to say the pledge, but my memories kept crashing against the wall the neurons in my head struggles to  repair.  And I was upset, embarrassed, and ashamed.  Honestly, I had to say that pledge everyday until I graduated from high school, just as most Americans do.  I wanted to die, and I was angry this guy couldn’t tell I had a problem with my communications .  This only fueled the five alarm fire in my head as I realized, “I am so dead,” and I can’t believe this could be happing to me in my own country.  Why did I ever read that book about “A man With Out a Country.”

Finally, when I was sure I was going to get yanked out of the car, and stripped searched, I was able to relay my problem/brain damage from meningitis to the border officer.  At least I could get that out, and he believed me.  It wouldn’t have mattered in the long run, but I wasn’t looking forward to being probed and questioned by Homeland Security.  I have the hospital records to prove I had this illness and the subsequential brain damage that occurred.  But knowing my stress threshold,  I’m sure I’d have lost my temper, and the outcome would not have come out in my favor.  Flashes of Stanley Kubrick’s ‘A Clockwork Orange’ popped into my head.  I’m strapped to a chair, and Homeland Security pries open my eyes open with surgical forks; making me listen and watch a video of school aged children saying “The Pledge of Allegiance.”  Just going over and over again.  Knowing my luck, even after the brainwashing, synapses wouldn’t work, and you’d never hear from me again.  I’d be getting skin cancer from the sun’s exposure at Guantanamo Bay.  I hear the medical benefits are great there, but I’ll pass, thank you.

So finally, the officer relents, and allows me back into the states.  I still miss the America I used to live in, and I’m saddened that we rolled over like cowering beasts, asking to have our bellies rubbed, and now we’ve pass the responsibility on to some one else.  I remember being happy I was born free.

The one positive part of this story was this.  At least this officer wasn’t performing racial profiling.  Not that I can say that for sure; after all, I’m a white female.  My point is this.  He didn’t care if I was white.  All he cared about was whether or not I was a “Republican.”  Be good to each other, and celebrate what’s actually good and wonderful in this world.  Don’t give up your sense of humor; if you don’t have enough, I’ve plenty to give to you all.

See you soon,

Dingo Stewart

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