When Rebecca made her adventure to live blog the Matthew Good show in Las Vegas, I had to drive down to pick her up from Bellingham International Airport in Washington state. Don’t let that name impress you too much. It’s a very nice, worthwhile airport, but it’s proximity to the Canadian border is the only reason it is granted the covenanted “international” label.
The big thing is that this was going to be my first time crossing the border since becoming a landed immigrant in Canada. I’ve got the permanent residence card[cic] that is my ticket for less hassle getting over the border, and the less hassle comes in terms of being kicked out or kept out of the country.
Things like this are no big deal, but I was driving across the border by myself. On top of that, I was in my mother-in-law’s car, so it was a vehicle in which I don’t even own. If they needed proof of ownership at any point, we were prepared for me to be held up a little bit. Plus, we also went over things to say, not say, and any documents I might need to prove my “intentions during your stay in the United States of America.”
Canada Day long weekend, I knew the waits would be a little long, but there was some safety in the thought that this was in between the major travel times. So for a Saturday, the radio said that waits were anywhere from three hours to ninety minutes. When I got there, the signs in the line up lanes said 40 minutes, and that’s pretty much how long it took.
Additionally, I had a little bit of concern with the recent bombings in the U.K. I had already heard that the threat levels at U.S. airports were raised, so there was a thought in my head that it could affect Rebecca’s flight as well as border crossings. Nothing on the radio or signs on display as I crept ahead in the queue, and things panned out in the end.
Getting up to the front of the line, I handed my U.S. passport over with my Canadian PR Card tucked inside, sticking out slightly at the top. I had a print out of Rebecca’s travel itinerary on my lap, ready to go in case he needed proof that I wasn’t a terrorist or drug runner.
He asked three questions. Where do you live? Where are you going? Are you bringing any goods from Canada into the U.S.? In the span of less than a minute, I shot right through.
What gets me is that each car ahead of me took two to five minutes on average when reaching the guy in the booth. I could see passports being passed over, then some conversation, some extra papers were handed over, more conversation, and the people were allowed to pass after getting a handful of documents handed back to them.
Perhaps I was lucky, or maybe the PR Card thing gets you some express treatment in certain situations. Time will tell, but it’s a comforting thing to be able to travel again. It’s even cooler when you get your own PR Card because your picture on the front is also a hologram on the back. Awesome.