January 11, 2010

to and fro

(DISCLAIMER: I have never worked nor do I know anyone who works at a border crossing for any country, but it is certainly an important job with a myriad of details I'm not aware of. So, this post is not intended as any sort of criticism- just observations of the hoops everyone has to jump through, no matter what direction we're traveling.)

In the course of our trips across the border over and over and OVER (AND OVER for Bryan), it's funny what small details stick out. Bryan was chosen for random searches twice on the U.S. side, and U.S. border patrol (at least in our case) has consistently been no-nonsense, curt, and a bit baffled by Bryan's choice to study in Canada as opposed to at home. Crossing into Canada, generally the feel is a degree less tense and we've even been wished "good luck" in the moving process. I'm not trying to generalize, but the relatively friendly (and probably gentle in terms of immigration to any country) interactions on the Canadian end have been a serious blessing.

All that said, when you move in multiple small trips like we did, it makes the border crossing a pain in the ass. We had different guards/staff/whatever every time, re-re-explained ourselves, showed our lists of belongings that already came, were coming, or lingered somewhere in between. I kept getting the feeling that they didn't quite know what to do with us, or how to categorize us. But eventually after an assortment of paperwork and stamps and signatures, we had a rough idea of how to proceed by the end of our second trip.

The third trip is where the mini-moment of grace comes in. I was picturing every possible scenario in which we screwed up, since we were leaving a whole lot of stuff behind and we had our dog and booze with us. I was picturing Toby locked up in some concrete quarantined area, huge brown eyes leaking innocent dumb tears at me, when we rolled past the border and were directed to immigration. It was a busy time so we knew we'd be in line for a while to pantomime Act III of Temporary Resident Quest: The Team Dyer Story.

And then, glory be! We hand our slip to the uniformed guy. He tells us to take it inside. While we ask if it's okay if we leave our fully immunized and socially delightful dog in the car, another uniformed guy walks up and asks, "You guys are working here, right?" Bryan says he's studying, but yes, we're moving- and lo and behold, this particular guard was our audience for Act II. And he remembers us! How amazing is that? Our friendly ally waves us on, and we never even set foot outside the car. (And good lord I hope this story does not get him or anyone he works with in any sort of trouble. Because I know that none of my dear readers are politically powerful or SNITCHES or anything.)

I know that, of all the cross-cultural and international moves to make, the one from America to Canada is the absolute easiest and least disruptive. I am so, so aware of this. But still, this moment of connection and kindness was quick but hugely encouraging. Warmed my heart, that did.