11-9-13 Montreal, Quebec
I woke up at 5:45 and packed rather lightly, cramming my goods into a small, olive green Jansport.
I made an unsuccessful foray into a National Park, only to realize that it was just the site of a few Revolutionary War battles. Battlegrounds bore me. Places set aside in order to make sure that nothing significant occurs there again. If the event was truly significant, should we really be worried about modern developments overshadowing it?
Did I just make an ignorant blanket argument against all forms of historical preservation? Yes, yes I did and I am not ashamed to admit that it stems from fatigue and malnourishment. An intermittent night of sleep, Dunkin Donuts, coffee, gummy bears, a banana, and another cup of coffee are all that bolsters my shallow argument.
Let’s talk about the US-Canadian border for a bit. Being a Texan, you would think I had seen the full spectrum of power-drunk assholes but the Canadian border was remarkable.
Maybe it was the unkempt beard, the Texas license plates, and my short-term employment in Connecticut, but I was interrogated and searched like some sort of devious miscreant.
The short, squatty French bureaucrats questioned me as if I was trying to enter with WMDs. “Turn your ignition off. Step out of the car. Pop the trunk and unlock all doors.” All doors, as if I had some magical fifth door on my Accord and if they asked sternly enough I would open it for them, uncovering a wealth of contraband and clandestine documents.
“What is your occupation?” “Where do you teach?” Did you leave today? What time did you leave? Do you have hotel reservations?” With each additional question, I became convinced of my duplicity. All of this coming from a country where the mayor of the largest city readily admits to smoking crack cocaine!
“What are you going to do here? Can I see your reservations?” I showed him a confirmation email on my grotesquely cracked i-phone screen. He took the liberty of scrolling through my phone as if I had some “detonate Canada” quick app.
It is funny and pathetic that I became so worked up over this triviality. My friend and former teammate Darsh Singh, a Sikh, routinely received this treatment just traveling domestically. All because he looked different. Can you imagine going through this every time you traveled?
It was offensive to have someone search your car and belongings, thinking they would find something. That’s the difference between a check and a search. So, in short, I am a spoiled white male who infrequently feels violated but today I was unexpectedly violated by a couple of Canadians.