The day I travelled down to Rochester dawned fresh and bright and full of the scents of spring. The sun shone, birds chirped and bunnies skipped through the fields, oblivious to the fact they would shortly be caught, covered in chocolate and stuffed into an egg for Easter. Yet, despite all these pleasantries, I was nervous.
Because we were about to cross the Canadian-USA border and there was a non-finite chance I might be detained and miss my flight back to Japan. In three weeks time.
Since I had --upon consideration-- decided against renting a car on my slightly illegal Canadian driving license[*] and using it to cross an international border, I was hitching a ride with a friend. She and I used to play on the same hockey team in Canada and we were visiting another ex-team mate who was a Baptist minister and had recently relocated to a church over the border. Really, you couldn't do better than our trip for shiny, wholesome fun.
Knowing the USA border as I did, I suspected we would be detained for decades.
My friend was Canadian and in possession of a 'Nexus card'; an ID program that allows pre-approved, low-risk travellers to skip the queues at the Canadian-USA border. However, on this trip her vehicle was harbouring a British citizen who was working in Japan, visiting Canada and carrying a new passport which contained suspiciously little evidence of her sordid part. Low-risk we were not. We would have to go through the long way.
"Where are you from?"
And so the questions began.
"What is the purpose for your trip?"
"We're visiting a friend," my friend explained. "He lives in Rochester."
"And what does he do?"
"He's a minister," my friend obediently expanded. "He's Canadian but working in the USA."
"And what sort of friend is he?"
OK, let's take a pause in our story to consider WHAT SORT OF QUESTION IS THAT? This guy has a car in front of him which contains two women of different nationalities, one from neither of the countries that this border straddles. The questions I was expecting concerned how I knew my chauffeur, how long I was going to be in North America and what I was doing here to begin with. His main concern seemed to be how did some religious dude get a job abroad and import an international harem of women for his guilty pleasures.
You believe I'm unfairly jumping the gun on the internal workings of this poor border guard? Let me continue….
"He's my boyfriend," my friend admitted after a slightly surprised pause.
The border guard leaned down and took another look at me. "What about her?"
WHAT ABOUT ME? The 'girlfriend' role is now taken. Did he expect me to admit I was the concubine? Sister wife? Imported bride? The girl they picked up on kijiji when advertising for a genuine 'Tarts and Vicars' weekend? I feel these should not have been the first 'go to' options here!
"She's …. a random friend," my friend volunteered.
…. well, I suppose 'random' beat 'imported concubine for an orgy'.
After that we were let through to collect the required visitor visa. I suspect the border guard went to fill in his application to theology college.
[*] Technically, the license was in date, but showed my old Hamilton address, which meant lying about being a Canadian resident. It was also not possible to update said address without having a current national health card (OHIP). Go figure.