I recently took my kids to Canada for a few days of exploring in Montreal. When we hit the northernmost Vermont border, we had to cross into Canada for our second driving adventure of the trip.
Crossing between the U.S. and Canada is always a bit strange. Like… the road keeps going, but you have to stop to get permission to keep driving. So you pull up to a very secure looking toll-booth-type structure, talk to the border patrol, and drive on in, even though the road looks the same. (Well, other than the speed limit signs, which are now in kilometers per hour, making it appear that the speed limit has increased substantially…). And talking to the border patrol officers is a bit unnerving because they are trained to be intimidating. Or maybe they just see too much in their jobs, and they quickly learn “intimidating” is the best approach. Who knows?
I am not (usually) intimidating. In fact, I like to talk to people and engage them in conversation. So as we pulled up to the window, my daughter warned me not to banter with the agent. Because apparently, I don’t know any better.
“Where are you from?” the man asked harshly in his French-Canadian accent. His directness caught me by surprise, and I momentarily forgot where we were from. But as he took the pile of passports from my hand, I quickly recovered and responded to his question. “Where are you going?”
“Montreal,” I informed him, and when asked, I told him how long we would be there.
“Do you have family in Montreal?”
“No, sir,” I responded.
“Do you have friends in Montreal?” he pressed.
“No, sir,” I answered. He studied the passports. “We’re on an adventure,” I offered, deviating from the expected script.
He snapped right back to the script. “Do you have any weapons in the car?”
“That would be an adventure,” he stated. It took me a split second to realize that he had ventured from the script, as well.
“What?” I asked. “If we had weapons?” He nodded. “Yes, it would,” I agreed
“The adventure would stop here,” he smiled and chuckled a bit to himself.
“I’m sure it would,” I smiled back.
“Go. Have fun.” He handed me our passports and waved us through. We thanked him and drove away. We were a bit giddy that the interchange had turned to an unexpected bit of fun.
And, of course, we were thrilled that our adventure would continue.