Here we go again I think to myself. It’s Border Patrol time. I’ve just landed in Toronto and I have to clear US immigration here before I board my flight to the USA. Every time I pass through I get pulled out and sent to ‘secondary investigation’. Will it be different this time?
Things have changed since my last visit. Normally I have to collect my luggage before I enter immigration but this time I am told it will go straight through to my flight to Ohio. Brilliant I think, maybe I will too?
I have to scan my passport and boarding pass and I am given a number. That is new too. My name comes up on the board and I can go through to immigration. Only a short queue at least.
I arrive at the desk. The officer actually seems quite friendly. That is a definite change for the better. Normally I get guys who I think have had a sense of humour removal operation. But … the result is as I feared. The guy knits his brow and looks at me quizzically. He scans my fingerprints. I can see the secondary investigation section. I look over to it and he follows my glance before nodding and smiling. He gives me my passport etc. in a file with a red SI written on it. “It’s OK. I know the way.” I say.
“Good luck sir.” He grins.
I enter SI and soon realize that they still have the guys in here that have had the ‘sense of humour removal’ operation.
The ‘meet and greet’ officer scowls at me as he takes my paperwork. He takes it across the room and dumps it in a pile of similar files. “Take a seat.” He growls. Some woman a couple of seats down is unwise enough to take out her phone. She is pounced on by an officer. “Not allowed ma’am. Please switch it off and put it away now.”
I smile to myself. I am busting for a cigarette and wonder what his reaction would be to me taking a puff on my electronic fag. I decide not to.
Now luckily I allowed about 5 hours between my flights. You can get tied up for hours in ‘SI’. I sit and wait watching the other ‘detainees’. I sweat a little remembering the time before last here. My entry was refused (apparently I had returned too soon after the visit before) and I had been marched into Canadian immigration who being a far more laid back crew just stamped my passport and let me into Canada. I had to book a flight back to the UK the next day. A very expensive day trip to Canada that had been.
But my wait wasn’t too bad. About an hour, maybe a little less. I was called over by a Danny De Vito lookalike officer. I was immediately alarmed when he asked me to follow him to another section. That had definitely not happened before. I had to sit while he disappeared into an office cubicle. There were posters advising me that I could not leave the section until I was told. EEEEEK!
My spirits fell. He emerged from the cubicle and I received my grilling. I was asked the usual. Purpose of visit? (To visit Raven) My job and what I did? (I fibbed a little telling him I marked University Exam papers. Not strictly untrue I suppose). He disappeared back into his cubicle.
He returned and said he had asked for my luggage. I bet that pleased Air Canada but it arrived quickly. He returned to his cubicle. I heard papers rustling and a stamp being used. I dismally imagined it was my entry refused stamp.
He came out again. I am sure he smiled slightly as he saw my gaily patterned luggage. “Are you carrying any drugs sir?” he asked. Like I’d say yes? But I wasn’t. Not the unprescribed kind anyway. Perhaps drug smugglers were known to use gaily patterned luggage? I didn’t know. “No.” I replied in what sounded to me like a very guilty voice.
He ran my cases through the scanner then just opened my tote bag. “No weed sir?” he asked. I nodded my head. “No.” He just ran his hands around the edges. That was it. Never even opened my other bags. “Thank you Sir. Have a pleasant stay in the USA.” He handed me my passport and boarding card. That was it. I was through. He even helped me carry my bags through to departures. I even shook his hand. I was on my way to my baby…..
To be continued …
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