Monday, May 12, 2008

What kind of an American are you??

Huckdoll recently wrote about a little trip from Canada to the states. It reminded me of my most recent experience with U.S. Customs, in 2006. My teacher friend Molly, and I had taken our annual pilgrimage to Seattle and had hiked enough to earn a day off, so we hopped a ferry and headed to Sydney (Nova Scotia, Canada).

We feared they might not let us in, because we had no passports; only driver's licenses. So, we were thrilled when we got through without a bit of trouble. We loved Sidney; simply beautiful and full of life. (I have another post to write about the "Hotel from Hell" we stayed in there, but this is a different story.)

We enjoyed biking, people-watching, and a delicious dinner at The Spaghetti Factory. The next morning, bright and early, we headed back to the border to return to the "good old U.S.A." We laughed and made cracks about getting stuck in Canada as we waited for the Border Agent to come and look over our I.D. and pass us along. It was a giddy kind of laughter; the kind that belies your fear that you might actually be in a little trouble (again, no passports).

The officer bent down and stuck his serious face (which made me want to laugh at its solemnity) into the window, glanced at us both, and asked for I.D. We handed it over. He asked where we were from. Then, with a totally poker face, the man asked, "Ma'm, please tell me the name for the three Branches of Government in the United States." Since I was a Social Studies teacher at the time, I smugly rattled off the correct answer and smiled. He then asked, "What is a veto?" and I answered correctly again. This time, he faced Molly and asked, "Ma'm, please tell me what the Selective Service is." And my brilliant friend, Molly; the brainiac Calculus teacher and practically Rhodes Scholar said, redfaced and wide-eyed, " DON'T KNOW!"

We looked at him beseechingly, visions of strip searches and overnights in a prison cell loomed. I answered it for her, my voice rising maniacally. The man's facial expression remained impossible to read(We were sweating profusely!)

"We don't know! But we really are teachers from Wisconsin, I swear to you! We're just stressed out, but not because we're criminals or anything."

Holding our lives in his hands, Officer Serious handed back our licenses and, to our relief, quietly said, "You may go on ahead."

I guess he figured that two people who know only a suspect amount about their government, who take freedom and liberty for granted and cannot answer a simple question to save their lives must be Americans. Thank God.

Now, my question to you is, would you have made it through??

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