By Rhonda Stanley
This week, what started as good deed by one of my daughters turned into a nightmare. And boy, did she learn a lesson: do not mess with the Canadian Border Patrol!
Earlier in the week, my eldest daughter had agreed to pick up a package shipped to a postal box we have in the US. It was a gift her boyfriend had sent for his brother’s birthday. My youngest daughter offered to accompany her sister to pick it up.
This is where it all goes wrong. My eldest daughter said, “If you want to go, you can go by yourself. I’m gonna hit the gym.”
So off my naive 17-year-old daughter goes, across the border with the parcel notification and her passport in hand. We live very close to the border, so she should be there and back in 20 minutes. NO SUCH LUCK!!!
So my youngest daughter picks up this package, and returns to the Canadian border, where she is stopped by Border Patrol. They ask all the usual questions: where do you live? How long have you been away? What were you doing in the States? Do you have anything to declare?
Of course she has something to declare and it’s all neatly wrapped in a package. So they ask, “What’s in the package?” …Oops. As it happens, she had forgotten to ask her sister exactly what it was.
So she says to the Patrol officer, “I don’t know. I picked it up for my sister.” Well, if she didn’t already have their full attention that certainly did the trick.
Immediately the Patrol officer wants to see the postal paperwork. …Oops again. They’re all tucked away neatly inside the package. She has nothing to show them.
After going through the trunk and asking some more pointed questions, the Patrol officer decides to send my daughter off for another inspection. She has to leave the car and go inside the border office while the car is being searched ‘thoroughly’.
They keep asking her what’s in the package and she keeps saying the only thing she honestly can say: “ I don’t know!”
Finally she says, “Let me call my sister and I can ask her.” This suggestion is complicated by the fact that the Border Patrol has already confiscated her phone, which she needs to retrieve her sister’s number. (Who can remember people’s numbers off the top of their heads anymore, right? A symptom of the digital age.)
Eventually, my daughter does manage to get hold of her sister, who informs her that inside the package is a Tony Perotti leather briefcase. That might not mean anything to you, but to Border Patrol it means a lot. The officer said, “That’s an expensive bag…” Clearly they are not feeling too confident in this 17-year-old’s story.
Now they want to look through her phone, so they need her password. …Oops yet again. How embarrassing; her password is ‘fuckkk000’. By this point, they think they must be dealing with some sort of juvenile delinquent.
The officers go through every message and every picture on her phone. They demand to know who she’s communicating with. She’s wearing a hoodie which they ask her to take off; she has only a bra underneath. Then they ask her to empty her pockets; she has skinny jeans on and can’t fit her hands into the pockets.
By now they are finished searching the car, and they come in with a very suspicious-looking foil-wrapped package they found in her backpack. Uh-oh, it’s the Jamaican Beef Pattie that yours truly packed her for lunch. Of course it has beef in it, which is a no-no when crossing the border (thanks mom!).
After all was said and done she was allowed to go, but had to pay $50. “Duty on the purchase.” I agree it was dumb to go across the border and pick up a package not knowing what was in it. But I know one 17 year old girl who has learned a very valuable lesson: ignorance isn’t always bliss. I have since been told that had she been a Nexus holder, that incident alone would have been just cause to revoke it.
Suffice it to say, that young man had better enjoy his new briefcase.