This post is part of the “Blogging from A-Z April Challenge”! The “V” themed inspiration for today is “visa.” Enjoy!
My life is ridiculous. It makes very little sense, I will admit, even to myself.
Last year I realized that the natural unbelievability of the truth of my existence causes some major problems with those that are trained to undermine the sketchy stories of liars.
…Such as the lighthearted, easy-going breed of folk known as US Border Patrol Officers.
(This true story preludes “The Grand Escalator Exodus of NYC” by one day. Truly, friends, I was on a real winning streak that week!)
Anyways, before I get into the incident, I’ll briefly explain the story that did not go over well at the border. Keep in mind that I take full responsibility for my stupidity:
I live in Canada; Vancouver specifically, but from October-December 2012 I lived in New York City on a student visa, taking part in a three month dance program. Going home for the holidays, I had planned to return to New York in February to dance for the rest of the year, again on a student visa.
However, less than a week before I was scheduled to return to NYC, I got an offer from a dance company/training program I was really excited about in Toronto. So, I decided to scrap that first plan and instead move to the Canadian East Coast.
I already had my plane tickets booked to New York, however, and I had left some of my belongings with a friend over there, assuming I’d be back in the new year. I decided I would use the flight I had already booked (Vancouver-Toronto-New York), grab my stuff, say my goodbyes, and then bus up from New York to Toronto. (I also had no accommodation set up for my arrival in Toronto, an equally hilarious story, but, I digress.) I hadn’t booked the bus up yet (stupid), but I knew I wouldn’t be staying in New York longer than a four days.
Looking back, I can definitely see how lame this story sounds, especially to a border officer trained to assume everyone has pure evil intentions. And yet, hindsight is 20/20.
Anyways, I arrived in Toronto, grabbed by bags, and went to go through immigrations so that I could transfer to my flight to New York.
It’s always kind of intimidating to talk to the officers because there’s this look in their eye and tone in their voice that makes you feel like a disgrace to the human race, even if you’re explaining how you’re going to rescue kittens and give them to children with cancer while simultaneously teaching them yoga.
Knowing this, but not thinking much of it, I stepped up to show my passport, assuming I would be waved through and onto my flight.
But no. “I used to live in New York and now I’m just going to grab some stuff and then bus back to Toronto to move there,” doesn’t go over well, apparently.
“Well…just little things, a toaster, and some shoes and books, and I think there’s, like…a blanket? I don’t even remember really.”
And so I was waved into the detainment section of the airport.
Border detainment isn’t exactly a club in Ibiza, let’s just say. Walking in, dejectedly, I found myself waiting with a selection of burly old men, confused foreigners, and a handful of normal enough looking people with baggage in strange and unconventional shapes.
Then there was me, an 18 year old girl carrying my life in two hot pink, Hawaiian flower printed suitcases with baggage tags in the shape of tutus.
After about half an hour of waiting, I was jarred from my thoughts about what on Earth was barking from inside of the black suitcase of the man sitting beside me, with a loud and angry voice yelling:
“Katrina-however the hell I’m supposed to pronounce this last name, come up here NOW!”
Oh God. So I grabbed my two suitcases that kept falling over and awkwardly tugged them behind me toward the officer who I was quite sure was not going to be very sympathetic.
Before doing anything he made me lift my suitcases up onto this table, laughing as I tried, and demanded I open them and take out every item. Upon doing so, he told me to put everything back inside and get the suitcases off the tables ASAP. He hadn’t even looked at what was in them.
“So you’re going to fly to New York for what, a toaster?”
From there it was all downhill. Basically, as I hadn’t booked a bus ticket back to Toronto, he assumed I was going down to New York to live and work illegally. He actually got quite creative with his very specific assumptions, including that I would be working at a bar under the table, and was some evil Canadian mastermind who had this all sorted out. Though really, if that was the case, I probably could have come up with a better story.
He asked me if I had any emails of proof of the company I was joining in Toronto, and excitedly, I told him I did. Too bad they were on my phone and use of electronic devices are prohibited in detainment centers. I also did not have proof of accommodation in Toronto. “Life’s just a little crazy right now,” is also not a good choice of words when trying to redeem yourself.
It’s the worst feeling to not be believed. It’s like when you enter your password wrong too many times because you don’t realize the keyboard’s on Caps Lock, and you get locked out of your own account. “But, no it’s me! It’s really meeeee,” you want to scream at the screen.
Finally, he let me go on the condition that I be back in Canada within two days time. His last words to me were, “you can’t just get by on a pretty face these days, girly.” Then he leaned over the counter, inches from my face, looked into my eyes and closed with, “I. Know. What. You. Are.”
And with that, I tried to run out as quickly as possibly, but ended up helplessly limping, dragging/falling over my suitcases and towards the gate of the flight I would have to reschedule.
I almost would have liked to see what would have happened had I stayed longer than two days in New York. It would be kind of exhilarating I think, being on the run from the government. A Canadian undermining the entire U.S. Constitution by working under the table at Duane Reade. But within a day, you can bet I was out of there.
I didn’t even end up getting the God-damned toaster.
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