Sometimes traveling sucks.
No, it’s not the endless hours on flights or the fine art of entertaining a toddler on an international flight. It’s not even dealing with last minute travel mishaps that wear me out. What really grinds my gears is being treated like a criminal simply because I happen to travel often.
It’s funny (not really), even coming back to your home country can be a daunting task. Customs officials always seem to be skeptical of my various passport stamps. It’s almost as if they see frequent travel as synonymous with criminal activity, or at least that’s the vibe they give. What happened to, “welcome back”?
When a customs official or border security agent asks a question as simple as “where do you live?”, it shouldn’t be a cause for anxiety but I know enough by now that their questions are always as loaded as the guns on their hips. Their skeptical glares, their raised eyebrows; I just can’t handle it. It’s the worst.
And two weeks ago was the worst of the worst so far.
Traveling on the yacht, customs and immigration is a pretty simple process; an official comes onboard, checks our passports and then asks a few questions about our inventory onboard or whatever else is pertinent to that country’s particular laws. Sometimes, I don’t even have to show my face. For me personally, it’s a breeze.
Now that the boat is out of the water and in the shipyard, however, all of my traveling is done like everyone else, which means I have to follow the same customs and immigration process as everyone else. Sounds simple enough? Maybe not.
As an American coming into Canada, you don’t expect a hostile greeting. However, cross the border a few times in a short period (well within your legal rights) and you might as well be Al Capone in their eyes. At least that’s how I felt when disembarking the ferry in Victoria and greeting the customs official.
“Hi, how are you?”
“Good, thanks. So why are you coming to Canada?”
(I give my usual boat/holiday spiel)
“So how much do you get paid?”
Literally, the third or fourth question out of her mouth was about my salary. I was caught so off guard, I got tripped up and only made myself look like I was trying to hide something, I’m sure. At the moment, I couldn’t figure out why she would ask such a question. And furthermore, it was as if she wasn’t even listening to my answer, simply staring at me skeptically. By now, I’ve realized that their main concern was that I made enough to support myself for an extended stay in Canada (and that I really was in fact a crew member on the boat) and that I wasn’t crossing the border the work illegally but it was just such an unpleasant and shocking approach.