Sunday, December 16, 2007

I.C.E Interrogation~

Framing Niagara~
Buffalo in the winter turned out to be not so bad at all. We spent the time between breakfast and David's game at Niagara Falls.

We wandered the American side of the river, me towing the camera and snapping way too many pictures, even though I know from experience that no photo ever does justice to the falls.

Crossing into Canada required no more than showing a driver's license and answering questions: where were from, where we were born, where were going, and why? No birth certificate required, and no physical check of the car.

The woman agent who quizzed us at Canada's crossing appeared to have a bit of the Niagara River flowing through her veins--no smile, no "Welcome to Canada, enjoy your visit"-- glaring suspiciously as she leaned slightly to look past my husband at me in the passenger's seat of the car.

"And where was she born?" she asked my husband, keeping her eyes locked on mine. Conscious of my tendency to make wisecracks at inopportune moments, I said nothing, and we were waved in with an impatient flick of her icy fingers.
Taking the plunge~
In the winter the park closes access to the "up close and get wet" viewing areas near the base of the falls, but the view is still spectacular from the higher vantage points, and the number of tourists competing for the view is greatly diminished compared to the summer time.

Reentering the US, the agent peered into the car and asked, "Only two?"

"Only two humans," I replied.

Bruce winced, but the agent laughed. "We don't care about the aliens," he said.

A little more small talk, the "W" questions, a few more chuckles, conversation about the basketball tournament we'd come to watch, and then he asked to see my license. I reached into my pocketbook with deft fingers and handed him the card.

Suddenly he bent down and peered more closely at me. "Why are you giving me your VISA card?" he asked, smile gone.

"Oh, darn!" I fiddled for my license. Bruce sat silently, just shaking his head slightly, probably trying to indicate to the agent that I could be ditzy, but wasn't in fact trying to bribe my way back in to the country with my ATM card.

"Just habit," I said. "That's the only card I ever pull out these days." I laughed, a genuine laugh at myself. "I've handed my VISA card to the librarian by mistake, too." I shook my own head to indicate that I was indeed a ditz.

He laughed then, and waved us in. "Wish your son good luck with his game," he said.
Many a calm river begins as a turbulent waterfall, yet none hurtles and foams all the way to the sea. ~Mikhail Lermontov


Janice Thomson said...

I found the Canadian agents far ruder than the Americans when I had to travel back and forth daily for a three week stint. Since they take your license plate pic every time and we got to know all the agents you would think after a few weeks they'd relax a little but not so - they were as rude the last day as they were the first. The Americans were laughing and joking with us near the end.

I have not seen Niagara yet - isn't that shocking? One day...

Glad you had a good time Ruth. Did David's team win?

Ruth D~ said...

I'm glad you raised the border crossing issue here, because after I posted this I hoped it didn't appear that I was making judgments. Not at all. But, yeah, you would think they could do their jobs and still have a little smile left over.

You're pretty far from that end of Canada aren't you? That's like me saying I still haven't seen the Grand Canyon, which I haven't except in a plane.

They won the first game, but not overall. :>)

Alice Folkart said...

Ruth, I'm so glad to hear that someone else has that urge to quip with the authorities. I've traveled a lot to Mexico and crossed the border at both car and airport crossings, I hardly ever buy anything or have anything to declare, but one time, I'd dislocated my shoulder (swimming backstroke) and had had to go to a Mexican doctor, who'd given me muscle relaxants and pain meds. When we came back across the border, they asked if I had anything to declare and I said, No, I'd had only the meds prescribed by a doctor for an injury. The hard-eyed agent we were speaking instantly went icy and picked up the phone, mumbled a few words, hung up and looked at me and said, gesturing at a row of black doors off to one side, "Door 4!" My husband was with me and started to go with me, and the agent yelled, "Not you!"

I was in an interrogation room. I was grilled about my 'drug use' and the doctor and who had recommended him, and what kind of injury. I showed the interrogator that I couldn't move my left arm at all and nearly cried when he demanded that I show him how far. I was in that room with that man for nearly an hour, answering the same questions over and over. I assume that they want you to trip yourself up. I don't know. But, all I could think about was how much money in man hours they were wasting on me and didn't they know any better and I was hoping they wouldn't take my meds away because I was due for a pain pill pretty soon and was really looking forward to it.

They changed interrogators. The second one was nicer, and then the first one came back.

They finally let me re-enter the U.S. I was so glad that I always travel with my passport. I think it would have been harder without it. I suppose that they were checking my background while they 'worked me over.'

How incredibly stupid!

Thanks for letting me get that off my chest.

The only thing that has happened to me coming from Canada into the U.S. in a car is that a Canada Goose let me have it right through the open window of the car - it was like a quart of wet coffee grounds, but stinky.


Lisa said...

I'm so glad you got home safely, Ruth. I still haven't visited Canada, if you can believe that. Those falls are just gorgeous. I can't even imagine how loud they must be!

Barbara said...

My strange ID story occurred when I last went to vote. I pulled out my driver's license for ID, or at least I thought that's what it was. It turned out to be my friend's license. She had given it to me at some point on a recent trip for safekeeping. The people at the polls thought I was a nut-case. My friend was just glad to get her license back.

The pictures of those powerful falls are spectacular. I hope you had a good mini-vacation.

Wanda said...

Loved the story and loved the pictures. Years ago, my husband and I had the thrill of flying over Niagra Falls in a small plane. It was a great view!

Ruth D~ said...

Alice! Maybe it was your glassy eyed look and crooked grin that caused them to up their caution. :>)

Lisa~ I can definitely imagine that. The last time I'd been to the falls was with my parents!

Barbara~ I can see something like that happening to me. Actually, your friend was more forgetful than you!

Wanda~ That must have been spectacular. The closest I'll get to a bird's eye view is Google Earth.

BookClover said...

Ruth, You always publish such amazing pictures!!!