Saturday, December 22, 2007


Last Thursday, Johnada and the Wife crossed the border from Canada to the U.S. at Sarnia/Port Huron. Having waited in long lines three prior times, the line on Thursday had been relatively short. Unfortunately, unbeknownst to Johnada, the contents of the car may have been a threat to National Security.

It started out easy enough. The U.S. Border Patrol Agent (BPA) was actually friendly to Johnada for once. When he saw the animals in the car, Balki (the dog) and Cousin Larry (the cat), the BPA seemed happy enough to wave the car through. But right before Johnada could move on, BPA said, "You guys don't have any pet food, do you?" Unfortunately, Johnada and the Wife did have some, as they thought their animals might get hungry during their two week visit to the U.S. The BPA explained that the pet food would have to be inspected. He said he would normally just looked it over himself, but the line of cars behind them was too long. He said they would have to go see "Agriculture."

So the car was parked in the designated inspection lot, and the Wife and Johnada were pointed inside a tiny beaurocratic-looking building. They brought their cat food along so the mysterious Agriculture would see that they weren't trying to smuggle in any unpatriotic animal food. After walking through the front doors, they were pointed to a side desk on the left with the word Agriculture above it. As they approached, Johnada could see that Agriculture was a stout woman in her late thirties with spikey hair. Johnada knew right away she was going to be trouble. Without going into details, let's just say if there was a stereotype for the kind of woman you don't want to ask you questions about the contents of your car at the U.S. border, this was her.

Here's how it all played out:
Agriculture, scowling: "So you guys are bringing animal food across the border. What kind of cat food do you have?"
The Wife: "President's Choice"
Johnada: "It's Weight Control Formula. I hope that's not an issue? It's just that he's a little heavy."
Agriculture: "Let me see it. Look's like it's made in America. I guess it's okay. What kind of dog food did you bring?"
Johnada: "Well, actually I forgot to bring it this morning."
Agricluture, suspiciously: "You forgot it, huh?"
What Johnada thought: "Yes, you moron. Why would you think I was lying about not bringing dog food? It's only dog food."
What Johnada actually said: "Yes"
Agriculture: "Did you bring any other food?"
The Wife: "Yes, we brought tangerines."
Johnada, trying to lighten the mood: "And tuna fish sandwiches. We're trying to save money. It's the holidays and all. Plus fast food puts on the pounds, and bathing suit season is just around the corner."
Agriculture, not amused: "Tangerines, hmm . . . do you have any firearms or alcohol in the car?"
The Wife, without hesitation: "No!"
Reality - we had 12 bottles of wine and two cases of beer. Why the Wife chose to lie, Johnada did not understand, as the worst they could of done is make us pay an improt tax. Lying to a border agent, however, is a felony. Johnada began to sweat. The Wife would not fall alone; he knew she would take Johnada with her.
Agriculture, suddenly: "Okay, I'm going to have to go look at the dog."
The Wife: "Alright"
What Johnada thought: "I thought this was about dog food, not our animals. What could you possibly discover from seeing Balki? That we kidnapped our dog and forced him to eat Canadian dog food as part of our nefarious scheme to control the U.S. pet food market. Which would quickly lead to our conquest of America. Then we could forge a world where Purina no longer exists!"

Johnada was then made to sit by himself in an isolated chair, and the wife went with Agriculture to show her the dog. (A reminder that this was entirely caused by the possibility of smuggling Canadian dog food into the United States.) Johnada then watched and felt surprisingly nervous about the situation. A few minutes later the Wife returned with the dog, but without Agriculture. This was not a good sign. Apparently, Agriculture had decided to search the car under suspicion we may be harbouring Milkbones. If there's one thing Border Agents know, it's that smuggling Canadian dogfood into the United States is often a gateway into smuggling more dangerous things like tangerines and Molsen. During ten very tense minutes, Johnada stared at the wall and hoped they wouldn't find his hidden stashes of Canadian candy and potato chips.

Agriculture then instructed the Wife and Balki to return to the car, while Agriculture walked into the office and Johnada had to remain where he was. Agriculture then slowly walked over to Johnada with a stearn look on her face. Johnada thought to himself, "the Wife sold me out. She told them it was my pet food, and that she was just a patsy. I make an extra trip to Loblaws to feed the cat and now I'm going to Guantanamo Bay for it." Johnada decided that he would not go down alone either. As Agriculture approached, Johnada began to explain how the pets were really the Wife's anyway. The cat had been a Christmas gift to her, and she had picked Balki out before Johnada even saw him. The Wife was the mastermind. She was the one who got the job in Canada. She must have been a Canadian operative the whole time. Johnada never had a clue. Had he known that a threat to U.S. National Security was now working its way through the dog's digestive system, he would have reported it right after breakfast. Johnada would become an American hero, if that's what it took. He could go back to Canada as an undercover operative. He would do whatever they wanted. It would not take hours of interrogation about trips to Canadian pet stores, the purchase of Canadian dog toys and the time Johnada had inquired about a flea collar. He would cave; it would all come out. There would be no need for waterboarding . . .

Agriculture stared hard at Johnada. She then told Johnada that she had thrown out the tangerines and gave him a piece of paper explaining what could and could not be brought into the U.S. It said something about pet food, but Johnada didn't read it. Instead he smiled politely and slowly walked to the car. He thought to himself, "Great to be back in America."


Aiglee said...

WOW, that was quite an adventure! And they didn't find the wine or beers? hahahah

wapentake said...

Maybe border crossings should be an integral part of the romantic courtship ritual - we could all learn a lot of valuable information!

Zhu said...

Why are you guys feeding your pets? That's just weird. I mean, worse case scenario, just buy them a Big Mac...

That's what the border officer must have though.

I will be very careful about not bringing pets, food, cars, firearms (they are cheaper in the US anyway), tobacco, alcohol, nail clippers and lighters across the border from now on. Being French adds to my case.

beaverboosh said...

Hey dude,
Close call with Feds, been there!
Lucky for you and the wife they didn't discover Beernada's wig!
Straight to jail, do not pass Go, do not collect $200.
Top of the season!

Mama Mia said...

I just know your mama taught you better!!!!

Johnada said...

Aiglee - They didn't find the beer or wine, thankfully. It's all gone now.

Wapentake - My wife and I have learned a lot about each other in border crossings over the years. Namely, she's a much better liar than I am.

Zhu - I think Balki would have actually enjoyed some Big Macs, but I don't think that cat would have been happy about it.

Beaverboosh - Yes indeed, Beernada's wig came in handy several times over the break. 2008

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