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Big Trouble in Little Windsor.
by Ray-Bob

Editor's Note.
I am pleased as punch to present my first guest columnist, Ray-Bob, whose previously-mentioned Customs crossing story follows immediately below.

IT ALL STARTED with being bored at my first real job. I was a computer support technician at a long-distance phone company. My boss, noticing my many programming skills (I spent untold company hours fixing my BBS system), was looking for help with RAMIS. For those of you unscarred by RAMIS, let's just say it is a mainframe database program that allowed you to submit modular requests. Today, this has been replaced by SQL, database scripting languages, and high school kids. With all this in mind, he signed up myself and my co-worker Steve-Bob for a RAMIS course in Boston (aka: "Bawsten").

We decided to drive to Boston from Detroit, because our multinational company would pay Steve-Bob 22 cents a mile and that's a lot of pumpkins! That, and he mistakenly thought the trip was eight hours. So, in order to get to Boston in less than a fortnight, the preferred route is to cut through Canada. This reduces an otherwise impossible trip to a mere 12-15 hours. The seminar (aka: classroom with under-qualified teacher) was Monday through Wednesday, so we would leave Sunday morning. Even though I would miss football, I was forced to agree. I would just bring a portable TV set.

Never missing an opportunity in my youth for poor planning, I decided to have a party Saturday night. Dressed in all our best 80's clothes, we drank the night away. I crumbled into bed about 3am, my feet where my head should be and vice-versa. Suddenly there was a weird sound. And again. And then another, like a rapping of some sort. Then the muffled screams of "Wake up!" I awoke to see Steve-Bob's face pressed up in the window. I was shocked. After all, he wasn't at the party. Why would his face be in my window? After a second inquisitive look, I remembered my commitment. Ugh. I was already (aka: still) dressed and figured we might as well just leave. I grabbed my hat and stuffed a duffel bag with clothes and toiletries. Even though my luggable (20 lbs.) TV had no batteries, I grabbed it anyway.

Then, just as we were about to leave, my eyes opened. I saw that there were sleeping people and beer cans everywhere. Some unopened (beer, I mean). I grabbed a cooler full of melted ice and loaded them into Steve-Bob's trunk. "Lunch," I explained. I figured it never hurt to have beer available on a long trip with no bathrooms. I grabbed my extra-large 1980's radar detector and threw it into Steve-Bob's glove box.

It is at this point that you require some background information and profiles:

RAY-BOB: Currently dressing in red and black shirt, black jeans, an ear clip with a small silver chain hanging down from it with a small skull on the end, and a black Stetson ($5 imitation) hat, and gray suede boots. It was winter, so I had on a FULL LENGTH GERMAN black leather coat. I had LONG hair, with a bit of a wave permed into the back. 80's? YEAH!

Personal viewpoint on life: "Huh? Where am I going?"

Attending NIGHT classes at Wayne State University in DETROIT. Studying computer something or other.

STEVE-BOB: Currently dressed in jeans and a golf shirt. Normal tennis shoes. Clean-cut hair.

Current standing in life: Catholic in better-than good-standing, studying at the University of Michigan to be an electrical engineer. Actually has goals. Is nice to people.

And now we can begin our tale...

Within 30 minutes of leaving we were at the Canadian Customs crossing.

Customs guard: "Where are you boys going?"
Steve-Bob: "Boston for a business seminar."
The Customs guard looks over at me laying in the seat with the $5 hat over my eyes and dark, cheap sunglasses. He then looks at Steve-Bob again.
Customs guard: "Anything to declare?"
Steve-Bob: "No."
Customs Guard: "How about you?"
Ray-bob (taking off hat): "No."
[the Customs guard then places a yellow tag underneath the wiper.]
Customs guard: "Please pull over to the side in spot #3."
Ray-bob (leaning over Steve-Bob and quickly yelling to officer): "There's some beer in the trunk!"
Customs guard: "Too late!"
So, we pull over. An official-looking woman with a clean uniform comes up to the car. There is another uniformed person with a clipboard.
"Step out of the car please."
"Open the trunk please."
Steve-Bob opens the trunk. The officers (or such) look at the cooler full of beer and state what will be the first of numerous macros.
"You realize that since we found [x], we now have the right to [y]".
Which, in this first instance, [x] = "beer", [y] = "search the interior of the car." (side note: They were nice enough to mark us as having declared the beer at this point.)

So, off they go to root through the car. They asked if we have a receipt for the luggable TV. "No," I reply to what I deemed a ridiculous question. The woman officer then opened a briefcase she found in the back seat. Much to her chagrin, it contained various work papers and a Bible. The woman office (looking directly at Steve-Bob), "This is YOURS, isn't it?" She then quickly turned away, trying desperately not to laugh. One of the officers then opened the glove box.

Officer: "Do you know that radar detectors are illegal in Canada?"
Ray-Bob [sarcastically]: "We weren't going to use it."
Officer: "You realize that since you have an illegal device, we have the right to look through your luggage..."
So, they begin searching through the luggage. At the bottom of my duffel bag, the officers found a Crown Royal bag. "Ah ha," the female officer said in a matter-of-fact voice. I think many of you already know the significance of a Crown Royal bag that doesn't have Crown Royal in it. Inside was a small pipe (empty) and a vial. The vial was small, about a gram size. It was smoky brown with a black cap. In the 80's people used them to carry coke. IRONIC POINT: I never used coke, nor had any ever been put into the vial. IRONIC POINT #2: I DID, however, like mescaline. (Yay for the 80's!) And as such, wanted a small, smoky brown vial to contain it in. There was one such hit in the vial. IRONIC POINT #3: When the customs official saw that small microdot of love in there, she didn't know what it was! She knew it wasn't coke, so she put it back! I quickly explained to her that I had LOANED the bag to another person and THAT person must have left that pipe in the duffel bag. I told this story to both the guard and to Steve-Bob, as if this would validate my story.
"You realize that since we found drug paraphernalia, we have the right to search you... Follow me please."
So, we entered the customs office. Well, not really the office. Rather the pre-office. No paint, one chair for the officer. A small wooden table, and a clear view of the REAL customs office where law abiding citizens are allowed to proceed with their customs-related business.
"Please empty your pockets."
So we did, slowly reaching into our pockets and pulling out various personal objects. Wallets, keys, etc... Then I reached into my inside coat pocket. [FLASHBACK] Two years prior, I had the pleasure of visiting Munich, Germany. While there, I noticed (between beers) the large collection of knives readily available. Switchblades were long illegal and butterfly knives (all the rage in the 80's) had just gone illegal. So, the novelty of buying a switchblade was irresistible. Plus, I justified it to myself, saying, "You're going to the inner city at night and walking from campus to a poorly lit parking structure (all true), you could use one of these (ridiculously untrue)". But at $6, I could hardly argue and figured when I got it home, I would just put it in my leather coat and forget about it. Which is exactly what I did. [FLASHBACK OFF] "Oh-oh, Steve," I said as I pulled out the switchblade and set it neatly on the table.
Guard (without humor): "That had better be a comb." "You realize that since we found a weapon, we have the right to strip search you."
Well, that didn't go over big with Steve-Bob, I can tell you. He has spent the last hour worrying that the infamous we-take-apart-your-car you-put-it-back-together legend would be proven true right before his eyes. But I was too nervous at this point to bother caring what Steve-Bob was concerned about, so I didn't notice. They escorted us to two different rooms that were exactly the same. White and empty. Cold tile floor. Assume Steve-Bob went through the exact same procedure I did.
"Remove all you clothing please, turning each one upside down and shaking it."
So I did. All of it. Oh, the humanity. The amazing part was that even in removing my clothes and shaking them in silence, I still managed to do it as if they were wasting MY time.
"Turn around and bend over."
Well, at this point, I was so bored I just wanted to get it over with. I didn't even think about the humiliation or shame (and I still don't!). The act itself (and lack of sweating nervousness) proved to be enough for them, for they did not venture inward in their search. I'm sure they'll use any excuse to get out of THAT part.
"You can get dressed now." "Thank you," I said dryly as they exited the room.
I did dress, noting the fact that if I really did have something to hide that small I could of kept it in my hand the entire time. I also took the time to read "Your Rights Under Canadian Law." If a same-sex customs official can not be found to search you, another same-sex person can be deputized to do the search. Ugh.

Steve-Bob finished his "inspection" and was escorted to the lobby, as they had assumed from the beginning that he was an innocent victim of my plans. They even told him they were going to let us go, offered him some coffee and suggested that in the future he choose better traveling companions. Just to drive their point home, they told him how they could have "Taken his car apart and left it there for him to reassemble." They like to keep the story alive, you know.

They let me wait another 15 minutes in the cold tile room, just to let me sweat. Then, the two original officers entered the room.

It was here that more macros were born (noted by *).

"Do you realize the seriousness of all this?"
"Yes sir", I numbly replied.
"Do you realize what charges could have been brought against you?"
"You're going to let me go, aren't you?"* I blurted out.
"We are returning your things, all except the switchblade. That is 'Abandoned to the Crown.'"** (To this day, that phrase will crack me up).
And they made me, your humble narrator, sign a document saying that I voluntarily "abandoned one switchblade to the Crown." The best part was that they gave me a receipt!!! I guess I could write it off on my taxes. The box labeled "expenditures or assets later abandoned to a foreign government or dignitary." I still have the receipt.

So, after a three-hour delay, we were on our way to Boston. Steve-Bob and I didn't talk to each other for 30 minutes, at which point I had the nerve to turn to him and said, "Do you think we could stop so I could get batteries forthe TV?"

I still don't understand RAMIS.

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