Good Tuesday Morning everyone :)
Thought I'd share some memories of cross border shopping with you all!
When I was young ( really young - in the 60's little girl young ) we used to cross the border into New York State quite often...............to spend the day at a beach - there'd be a big old cooler in the trunk filled to the brim with sandwiches and kool aid and off we'd go.
BUT always - and I mean always - at some point in the day - the beach was interrupted for a fast shopping spree - where kids got brand new running shoes and the old dirty flip flops we were instructed to wear were discarded in the nearest garbage can. Mothers picked up new purses - Fathers stocked up on alcohol and the now empty cooler would be filled to the brim with the new stash. ( cigarettes being the most important haul of all )
And off we would go to sit in a long line up at the border to get back home....................being told over and over " just keep you mouth shut when we get to the booth "
It was terrifyingly exciting - my brother and I always felt we were within inches of being arrested - our hearts would be pounding as the " Officer " would ask the standard questions
" anything to declare ? "
" no, no - we just spent the day at the beach "
and my brother and I would give the obligatory smiles and try to hide our feet as best we could - lest we all be put in prison....................
After many many years of this - you get brave - you throw caution to the wind - and sometimes you'd come back with more and more -
And the heart beating got stronger with every trip.
But if the truth be known - no one gave a damn - not the American side as you entered -
" have a great day at the beach folks - wink wink nudge nudge
Or the Canadian side on your return
" hope you had a great day at the beach folks - wink wink nudge nudge
Because cross border anything is very common when you live close to one - Americans came for the
night life here - we went for the prices there.
More often then not jokes were flying on either end - it really was a very open border with a lot of traffic on either side coming and going.
For many many years John and I travelled to Manhattan almost monthly to visit New York clients.
We were registered in the computer because of so many trips - so usually we were just waved through
after a couple of questions.
I would usually joke with the " officers " feeling totally at ease - since I had been doing this all my life - John
however was always a little nervous ( perhaps because he's from England - and not having as much experience with it ) but he would always warn me not to act so " familiar " and I would laugh at him - tell him
he was being ridiculous - we're the same - it's just the States and Canada - no big deal.
It wasn't like entering East Germany and West Germany after all.
Then 9/11 happened.
And both sides changed.
The Canadians were suspicious about why you were going to the States.
The Americans were suspicious about why you were going to the States.
Both sides were in an ( understandably ) acute sense of paranoia - plain and simple.
And then this happened on one trip.
Officer - What is your business in the United Stated of America sir
John - I have appointments to see customers in Manhattan
Officer - What is the nature of your business Sir
John - We are fabric agents
Officer - Are you bringing anything with you
John - Yes we have fabric samples - of no commercial value
Office - I will be the judge of that Sir - not you
Suzan pipes in - They have NO commerical value - they're scraps of fabric -
Suzan tries to be funny - Unless we sell them to Mattel to make Barbie Clothes with
Officer - GET OUT OF THE CAR M'AM
Suzan smiles - like he's joking
Officer - GET OF THE THE CAR M'AM - IMMEDIATELY PLEASE
I get out of the car - kind of still smiling - because we're not terrorists after all - surely he knows that?
We're registered as coming here constantly
And then 2 officers escort us into a building that I've never been inside of in my life.
And we're told to sit and wait.
John is sweating bullets by now - I was just getting a little aggravated
So here we are sitting directly in front of a counter actually - and a voice comes over the loudspeaker
- Mr. John Wood please step up to the counter
I start laughing again - I mean the man could have leaned over and whispered for John to step up and he would have heard him..............
I get a very stern look - and am asked
- is something funny M'am
- Yes, I reply, actually I DO find it funny - because we're sitting right.....................
I'm cut right off -
- This is NOT a laughing matter
I get up to join John - and I'm told to return to my seat
I get up to go to the bathroom - and 2 officers approach me
- You have to stay here - one of them says
- I'm only going to the washroom - I reply
- Wait there, one of them responds and COMES OUT WITH A FEMALE OFFICER
who is instructed to join me in the washroom.
Uh - no thanks - think I'll hold it in and risk peeing all over the seats thank you very much
They keep questionning John - and telling him to go sit back down
and every time he comes back - I say in a very loud voice - WELL THIS IS JUST RIDICULOUS
and John keeps mumbling at me to shut my mouth - ( much like our parents warned us to do when we were crossing the border as kids )
John says - I've always told you not to act so familiar with them
Suzan says - Listen - this has never happened to me in my life - it must have something to do with you
I stood up at one point to go outside for some air - and 3 or 4 of them come over to me and advised me to sit right down again..................
Does it work?
I'm furious now - really livid -
We're going to miss a very important meeting and we've now been sitting there for over an hour.
And finally after a couple of more hours of sitting there, a story comes out -
Officer - Mr. Wood, we see that you have 3 children here in the States that you have not provided support for.
John - Pardon me?
Officer - repeats the line and adds - " it's a federal offence "
John stammers - I think there's been some kind of a mistake Sir - my kids live in Canada
Officer - maybe so - but not the 3 you have here
LMAO............I'm almost rolling on the floor at this point -
I can see it in his face
I get up and walk to the counter
John Wood is a very common name Sir - you've obviously got a case of mistaken identity
I'm told to GET BACK M'AM- THIS DOES NOT CONCERN YOU
I jokingly tell them it concerns me very much - that if what they are saying is true - they can keep him
They don't get the humor
At the 4 hour point - they call his name on the loudspeaker again
LOL - sorry I keep laughing when I picture this
They tell him they've made a mistake with the paternity thing but have found out he has a speeding ticket that's outstanding................
We pay it - and leave.
No apology is offered for the 5 hours we sat in that cold stark waiting room.
We get in the car - and John starts screaming and yelling at me
- There are times when it's not appropriate to joke
- You never know when to stop
- They could have arrested you
Suzan says - For what? For making a joke? Don't be so ridiculous!
As we were just getting ready to exit the Palisades Parkway - I see a police car
behind us turn on their lights
They pull us over
Officer - you're swaying a bit Sir - please step out of the car
I get out of the car with John - and start rambling on about what we've been through
and how a 5 and a half hour trip is now fast approaching 12 hours and that we just live in
Montreal - and how we have NOT had a drink and how.................
And the officer gives me a big smile - and says -
That's a rough day you've had M'am..............
Sorry for your troubles.............
I go to Montreal a lot - I love it there............
Have a good trip...........
Thanks SO much - I gratefully tell him - as we get back in the car.............
John says - I guess this is going to be the new " norm "
Suzan says - Well this is going to be a " 2 pair of shoes trip " let me tell you
Suzan says - and about those 3 kids? what exactly are you doing on these trips
when I'm not with you? start talking Mister.....................
Have a great day all!