Subject: Re: Border stories
Hello Ziners:

Pre-9/11 when you flew a small plane across borders such as the US-Canadian border you would have to land at an airport designated as a customs clearance point and after landing you often had to wait for the customs officers to show up. Once we flew into Montreal from outside of Boston. There were 6 of us and we were going to Montreal for a Sunday brunch. It was something that four of us had discussed one evening over drinks on Cape Cod. A few months later the owner of the plane called and said let's go to Montreal for Sunday brunch. And we went.

The customs officer at Montreal was puzzled. He asked the purpose of our visit to Montreal. "Brunch," we replied in unison. "But, Monsieur, one does not fly to Montreal just for brunch." It seemed that we were getting nowhere when one of our troupe exclaimed, "And the antique auto show!" That did it. The officer stamped our passports and we were in. Both brunch and the auto show were wonderful.

Returning on another trip from Vancouver (skiing at Whistler) we landed in Reno before going off to Bishop, California for a drive to ski Mammoth. At Reno INS and Customs shared duties, but once you landed you had to call and eventually an officer showed up. That could take a couple of hours. When you land you are directed to a circle in which you park the plane. You can get out of the plane but you cannot leave the circle. It had been quite a while and one of our troupe really had to go. He left the circle and went to the bathroom in the FBO. As he was coming out, the INS officer arrived. She was ripped that he had left the circle. The fact that duty called made no impression. Now the fellow who left the sacred circle discovered on landing that he had inadvertently brought his wife's passport and not his. Try as we might we could not get the INS officer to look at any more than one passport. We were trying to dress him in drag and wear a mop as a wig. The INS officer would have none of it; she thought we were crazy. She was right, but that is another story. She let us all back into the US. We invited her out to dinner with us, but she wisely declined. I think she thought that any group that crazy had to have escaped from a US asylum.

Alas, today Customs Officers really have no sense of humor, but who can blame them.

In my next episode I will tell you how a chocolate cake got $2,000 USD worth of sweaters into Spain and why I will never use UPS for international deliveries again.

Tom in Carlisle