Bethie and the Port Authority
February 18, 2012:
I’m not exactly a people person. (Shocking, I know.) Imagine my surprise when my leisurely ferry ride back to the U.S. included a conversation with a complete stranger. Though I was polite and labored to engage beyond my comfort level, I’m certain my aversion to extroversion was rather evident.
Bethie is a Victoria, B.C., transplant originally from Saskatoon—”the Siberia of Canada,” as she dubbed it. (Please take this opportunity to say “Saskatoon” aloud; it’s fantastic!)
She was embarking on one of her regular trips to Port Angeles (or, as she said, “Port Angeleees”) to visit her elderly father. She works from home as a life coach with an emphasis on the Law of Attraction, manages several conference call hosting sites and eats peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with celery sticks. The sandwich and celery were the only things that I could relate to, though I did enjoy hearing a bit about Canada from a local.
After we exited international waters and parted ways with Bethie, things got a bit more spirited.
Crossing between the U.S. and Canada certainly doesn’t sound like a daunting foray, particularly when you’re an innocent-looking, boring midwesterner like me. The grouchy (downright rude, really) Port Authority lady in Port Angeles proved me wrong.
My passport shows the rural community in which I live—a place most people in the greater metropolitan area aren’t even familiar with. It seemed only natural, then, to say I’m from Kansas City—still not a hugely popular place, but somewhat more recognizable. Ms. Port Angeles Port Authority (P.A.P.A.) didn’t like this answer.
Thus commenced an extraordinarily frustrating interrogation. Below is an abridged reenactment of the exchange:
P.A.P.A.: “Where are you from?”
Me: “Kansas City.”
P.A.P.A.: “Hmph. That’s not what this says.”
Me: “Well, <city> is a very small town not far from Kansas Ci…”
P.A.P.A.: “Take your hands out of your pockets.”
Me: (removes hands from pockets)
P.A.P.A.: “Why were you in Canada?”
Me: “It was my birthday. I wanted to use my passport.”
P.A.P.A.: (skeptically looks at my passport to confirm date of birth)
P.A.P.A.: “How long were you there?”
Me: “Just overnight.”
P.A.P.A.: “Where are you headed now?”
Me: “Uh, Port Angeles.” (note we were in Port Angeles)
P.A.P.A.: “What are you going to do there?”
Me: “Just looking around. Passing through.”
P.A.P.A.: “Have any weapons on you? Drugs, alcohol, medications?”
Me: “Nope.” (feeling the perfectly legal crazy meds burning a hole in my backpack and wondering why anyone would actually admit to having illegal substances anyway)
P.A.P.A.: (sneering at me) “Okay, go on.”
Me: (exasperated) “Okay, thanks.”
Where are the Jedi mind tricks when you need them?
<waving hand> You don’t need to see my identification. Move along.