Ah, the pink Taser. Miss that lil’ pink Taser.
How all great novels are written I am sure. Slightly inebriated. Very stoned. Almost forgetting where the hotel room I’ve been staying for three days is located.
Masked for the plague and attracting the crying children as always. Why. Why do they come for me? Like some magnet, like a dingy flystrip of fake smiles and shoulder-tightening tolerance…. they know I hate them. I only know I’m winning at life when there’s no mold and no children.
No matter how inept at life I get, there is always the underlying reassurement: “Well, at least I’m not Canadian.”
Many have rightly asked what I have against Canadians. The answer varies. Sometimes it is “floppy heads, beady eyes”. Others, it is an honest criticism of Canadian culture, that they live in the shadow of the United States without the trauma and drama and fear and hustle, and therefore, without the soul.
Mostly, these days, though, I say “They took my Taser”, because, in the end, that’s the only measurable thing I actually have against Canada, especially having been to six of their provinces. I don’t really have anything against Canadians, they’re just easy to pick on because it’s sort of allowed. The woke PC police won’t yet cancel one for making Canuck jokes. Mostly I’m pointing at that double standard, but no one gets the joke.
Least of all Canadians.
The Taser was pink, and no it wasn’t a stun gun. It was a Taser, the real thing. Beautiful and new and never fired. Full of a cartridge that would unwind some wired projectiles and simultaneously a confetti of RFID tags Federally background checked to yours truly. It was my Taser. Mine.
Like a brilliant, educated, upper middle class New York Jewish girl I decide to cross the fucking border at Jackman, Maine. Who does that? Maybe if you’re on some sort of weekend trip, heading up North for whatever the hell people go to Canada for. Not I, though, I am on a six month Roadtrip Walkabout and my Toyota Yaris is chock full of things.
My turtle shell.
Before I’d yet learned to travel only with things to cover my naked body and stave off frequently knocking disasters.
Like someone unaware of their own manifestation magick, I move the Taser from my purse (duh, it’s a weapon) to a box full of random things, in another purse, at the bottom of other boxes full of things.
So, you know, cue that bird sound they make in Westerns to show the audience that it’s isolated af. That’s where I am, crossing the border, only not in the West, in the Stupid North of Maine. Pastel skies and faces and boring.
Not so boring is when they decide to search me at the border because they have nothing better to do and here I am.
An hour and a half later the Quebecois border agent looks like he’s getting wood from scolding me. I remember his black tie. White shirt. Black sweater over both. Hat.
“Because of your crim– I mean Civil Infraction… you cannot enter Canada under zis entry. You must turn around and go back into ze United States, and then if you so choose you can come back to Canada.” he says.
I want to tell him how ridiculous that is in practice, doing 2 U-turns around an international border in the middle of nowhere, and how much I really wouldn’t ever so choose, but I’m checking up on an alcoholic friend who lives on Île d’Orléans, of all places… but instead I take my paperwork.
The part I skipped over is where they took the Taser, destroyed it and the cartridge, and then stol– I mean impounded my vehicle and made me pay a $1000 USD brib– I mean fine in cash no credit to get it back and leave. Shock weapons are illegal in Canada, but I still am traumatized by it.
I loved that lil’ pink Taser.
And so, I drive back through the border crossing to the United States, and the border agent wants to know why. I shove a stack of paperwork in French and English his way. I explain.
Rather than acting like actual law enforcement might upon seeing a solo female traveler keep a weapon with them even when it is not necessarily legal to carry, he acts like he, too, would like to be anywhere other than Jackman, Maine, and that maybe if he does his job good enough it’ll get him out of Jackman, Maine.
Searched again. Of course the Canadians didn’t do the best job, why would they? These Americans will do better!
He takes me into a room with no windows and makes me empty my pockets. I don’t know whether it’s my crumpled receipts, white skin, or whether he can see me coiling in fear – knowing that if he asks me to disrobe to further search me, here at the border of my own country where I have broken no laws, I will turn into a feral cat and scratch not just his eyes out, but all the flesh from his body. Boundaries. We all have them. But for whatever reason, this is the extent of it. At the end of the search, back off around into Canada I go.
“What took you so long?” the smug Quebecois border agent – a different one from the one I will never forget – asks.
“They searched me.” I state blandly. Don’t remember his reply. I have run out of patience for law enforcement by now. This is not the first searchy clown show along this Roadtrip Walkabout. Nor will it be the last time I am close to sneaking across a border. All I remember is him handing me back my passport and me peeling off into the Canadian sunset.
I remember not having signal as soon as I reached the border, and not having accounted for that crossing a country border in the middle of nowhere might offer limited options for dealing with this catastrophe.
Luckily this was early enough in the mobile-enabled age that my instructions had been given in written form, and my GPS still worked anyway. Just a matter of not being able to update my concerned friend with the five hour delay it took to get border searched twice and have $1000 (USD, you’ll remember. Even though this was in Canada they didn’t charge CAD. Even Canadians can’t take themselves seriously. Especially not next to the Benjamins.) and my pink Taser stolen from me.
After finding my friend in frightening shape (like, when you have to ask “are those bruises from abuse or from cirrhosis?”), I find my way back into the United States and the next time I cross back into Canada, again somewhere dumb emptying me out into bumfuck, Manitoba, I am searched again. And questioned.
It’s actually harder to take Manitoba accents seriously than it is to take Quebecois accents seriously. So I am breathing, and stifling laughter, which doesn’t bode well when the border agent asks
“Why does your cooler smell like marijuana, eh?”
By this time, though, I’ve given enough of my time to border searches and am a tough cookie.
“Why is your nose broken? You seriously think a cigar smells like marijuana.” I say, showing them the cigar that I have in my cooler because there was previously in the cooler the reason my cooler smelled like marijuana in the form of some incredibly pungent marijuana in it, so the cigar is supposed to be covering that up, or at least giving me a reason to be an ass at the Canadian border.
“Where did you buy that cigar?” they ask.
“It’s Cuban.” I say, knowing that such a thing is legal in Canada and not in the US, and being slightly curious of their reaction. They gear up into punish-mode, and I interrupt “I bought it in Miami. Rolled by Cuban-Americans.” I smile brightly.
They half-ass the search. But they at least pretend search better than the Americans when I finally cross back over the US border in Vancouver. Yes, this means I drove clear across Canada. My only advice is “don’t”. The most amusing part about the drive was thinking that the Capital of Saskatchewan was pronounced “Regeena” for days only to come within radio distance and learn that no, it’s “Regina”. Like vagina.
Anyway, at that border crossing into the US they flag me for a search, make me walk into a room and give my passport up for 5 minutes, but when I get back into my vehicle it’s clear that nothing has been touched, and there’s paperwork saying the search turned up nothing sitting on my passenger seat.
G-d Bless America. Ain’t got time for that.
And that, my friends, is the last time I crossed the Canadian border, and also why I do not like Canada. They took my pink Taser (since discontinued, I can never have another), and for all I know they’ll continue to try to find another one on me every time I visit them so why the fuck would I?
Like stories about close calls with law enforcement? Here’s more: