This post on Clarissa’s Blog reminded me of a couple of stories from back when Jaime and I were first dating, and we usually crossed oceans and large chunks of continent to see each other. The oddest part of these frequent pilgrimages was our dealings with the customs and immigration peoples; we both have colourful stories to share in that regard. Here’s a sampling of mine:
The first time I went to meet her, I was 19, and I’d never been to Winnipeg before. I’d never even been that far north ever, I think, at least not as an adult. I was naturally nervous, and I became more antsy as we got delayed due to an overbooking, and me sitting next to an overly chatty girl from Saskatchewan who talked my ear off regarding “destiny” and “the chosen paths”. I think she was trying to encourage me, but it just made me ill.
When I finally came around to landing in Winnipeg, I went straight up to customs, and stupidly babbled out the truth. Here’s how it went:
Customs & Immigration Agent glances at my passport.
Agent: So… You’re from Hawaii? What brings you to Winnipeg?
Me: I’m visiting my boyfriend!*
Agent: I see… That’s a long ways away. How did you meet him?
Me: The Internet!
Have you ever met this boyfriend before?
Me: No, this is our first time!
Is anyone surprised at this point that they escorted me to the back room, and another agent began asking me a whole bunch of questions which made me suspect that they thought I was a hapless victim of an online pedophile?
The agent who interrogated me in that room was a burly, short-tempered Scottish man who had an accent I had a hard time understanding, so I ended up screwing up a lot of answers to his questions such as:
Agent: “Neew, fer de poorpose of this trip, de ye halve enni foonds on ye?
Me: I do have a phone, I have an American cell phone… Agent cuts me off irritably
Agent: Foonds! Mooneh!
Me: Oh! Oh, yes, I have $300 American.
After a few more questions, the agent told me to wait here while they searched for my boyfriend. I told them the name, and I heard him calling it out, and then they must have found Jaime, because I heard her voice, and the man asking her “Do ye know this ‘Leah (lastname) girl?” Jaime answered in the affirmative, and I was finally released.
And there she was, wearing her best nehru jacket, looking rather sheepish, and holding a bouquet of roses in one hand, and a box of Smarties (my favourite Canadian candy, which I’d told her was my favourite about three months ago, and she remembered!) in the other. We hugged and kissed for the very first time, and to this day, we still crack up at what the Scottish agent must have thought seeing this very bashful and anxious young person holding flowers and chocolate at the airport, when he’d probably been expecting to see a creepy predator.
My other favourite stories involve exiting Canada, not entering it. The first one was the first time I left Winnipeg, after a nice sweet, but all-too short visit. I entered the customs, and the agent cheerfully asked me what the purpose of my trip to Winnipeg had been. “I was visiting my boyfriend” was my answer, as usual. He cheerfully then began giving me the information I would need and the waiting times for an international marriage visa. Well, thanks, I’m glad you’re so optimistic about my relationship!
The other one was after having spent my first winter in Winnipeg (They don’t call it Winterpeg for nothing, Brrrrr!) and was making my way back to Hawaii.
Agent: Wait, this says you’re from Hawaii!
Me: Indeed I am!
Agent: What the Hell are you doing in Winnipeg?
Me: I was visiting my boyfriend and his family for the holidays.
Agent: And he made you come here instead of travelling to Hawaii for the winter?
Me: I guess so.
Agent: What a schmuck! *stamps my passport* Head on in.
I love travelling.
*Jaime was still male-identified back then