July 23, 2004

a conversation

HIM (a no-nonsense, Ray Ban wearing, non-smiling, armed U.S. Immigration officer at the Peace Arch border crossing): "Where are you going?"

ME (a pierced-eared, freaky goatee-wearing, smiling Canadian): "Bellingham."

HIM: "What for?"

ME: "I'm having lunch with a friend."

HIM: "A friend in Bellingham? How do you know this friend?"

ME: "Umm, through the internet." (Oops, I shouldn't have said that...)

HIM: "The internet, huh? What do you do for a living?"

ME: "I'm a pastor of a church in Vancouver." (Why the heck did I say that?! This is not going well...)

HIM: "Oh yeah? Which one?"

ME: "It's called The Whatever." (I am in trouble. Curse you, Tom Ridge...)

HIM: "What denomination?"

ME: "It's non-denominational. It's a house church."

HIM: "And you make a living doing this?"

ME: "No." (I am so going to jail...)

HIM: "So how do you make money?"

ME: "I don't." (I wonder if they use real handcuffs or those plastic things...)

HIM: "How can you afford to do that?"

ME: "We're living on savings. It's a temporary situation." (I wonder how long they can hold me without charging me...)

HIM, after a long pause: "Ever been arrested?"

ME: "No." (Not until today, anyway...)

HIM, after another long pause: "OK, Get going."

ME: "Thanks. Have a good one." (Woohoo!)

Posted by mike at July 23, 2004 03:31 PM | TrackBack

Mike, the 14 year old and I are still laughing from this encounter. Brilliant dialogue!

Posted by: anj on July 23, 2004 04:05 PM

I'm from England. I don't get it:) Are there problems in Bellingham?


Posted by: Lucy on July 23, 2004 04:44 PM

That's hilarious! Oh boy, that brings me back. Once, when I asked the 'have you ever been arrested?' question, the clean cut dad in the car started swarming. 'You'll have to tell me about it, Sir'. 'Well, I got caught sneaking into the girl's dorm during a pantie raid at college.' [covering my snicker with a discrete cough]. 'Have a good time in Canada'.

Posted by: Lisa on July 23, 2004 06:27 PM

Hey...thanks for the good laugh. Judy and I are back to our motel...tired...and ready to move on tomorrow...BUT...we needed that great story from you. Thanx!!! I'd have come visited you in jail if you had landed there. Judy is still chuckling. :)

Posted by: Wes on July 23, 2004 08:59 PM

oops, that should have said "squiriming". Lucy - the reason why it's a big deal is it's the US/Canada international border and the US have their knickers in a big twist about pierced, tatooed, goatee'd, smiling people coming into the country.

Posted by: Lisa on July 23, 2004 09:20 PM

that was certainly skillfully done. Good thing you don't have yours truly's swarthy looks or you'd be in lock-up right now waiting for the Missus to post bail.
Since 9/11, us Mediterranean types have to be real no-nonsense. Unfortunately, my passport photo makes people think "20th highjacker".

Posted by: robert on July 23, 2004 09:26 PM

Honesty is its own reward -- or at least, a good laugh for the rest of us! :-)

Posted by: Jon on July 23, 2004 09:52 PM

Still love this story!

Posted by: idelette on July 23, 2004 10:38 PM

being 25 and unattached with parents living in Washington State while I remain loyal to the Dominion means that I cross the very same border crossing once or twice a month, minimum...
I have had many similar experiences, most of them having to do with what I do for a living, answered variously as: student, disability bum, missionary, pastor (you think YOU got looks?!), unemployed job-seeker (now there's a way to get denied entry...!), professional basketball player, etc.

But seriously, the church of Whatever? Nice. I love it.

Posted by: Jocelyn on July 23, 2004 11:54 PM

great story mike - brought back memories from the 100's of crossings we've had to make visiting family or shopping in 'the falls'. there is always that gut feeling that they are going to assert some abstract power over you that is going to ruin your day.

i love the roulette of 'which line? come on, which line should i get in? no that one looks like it's going faster...' and then sitting there for what seems to be hours knowing that you picked the line with the pickiest, nastiest border guard.

Posted by: bobbie on July 24, 2004 04:47 AM

that's hilarious Mike. When I came over in June to Portland, I was asked what I was over for, I said a theological conference, they asked what kind, I said "the theological kind, do you want to talk about the content...?" I thought I was going to be arrested as well... your customs/immigration are scary, but maybe that's a good thing.

Posted by: Jason Clark on July 24, 2004 07:59 AM

Very funny! The only thing better would have been if you were wearing one of Beth Keck's T-Shirts.

Posted by: deb on July 27, 2004 12:01 PM

That would have been good...

Posted by: Mike on July 27, 2004 02:00 PM
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