Note: This is a totally personal entry and has no SEO/PPC advice or tips.
I have been saying that this is the year I would travel for me, do all the things I have been meaning to do, but couldn’t do while in class. I went skiing in Breckenridge in January, went to Seattle in February, and decided to make a road trip to Winnipeg, Canada in March.
You see, a flight from Austin to Winnipeg is really expensive! There are few airlines that make the trek at all, and it requires so many connections, it’s almost worth the drive. A few months out, I had decided to look into ticket prices, $700 at minimum, and they stayed that way. I calculated the gas required and it came out to $400 round trip. But driving is boring, and it’s 1500 miles one way up to Winnipeg.
Two things pushed me to do the trip. One was the fact that my brother mentioned he always wanted to go to Canada. And on top of that, one of my friend’s (Lyndsay Walker) birthday was coming up. That was it, I was going. But I wasn’t going to tell Lyndsay, it was a surprise.
The road trip was fine … please note though, Kansas=Nebraska=South Dakota=North Dakota. There is no change in the scenery on Interstate 29. That was until we got to Fargo, and thought we were in Florida. The fields were so flooded, it looked like we were in the swamps of Florida, for real. It was all due to the amount of snow melting. And I drove through a snow storm in my mustang. *almost had a heartattack*
The real story starts when we get to the Canadian border. It was 9:30pm on Friday night. I had our passports out and ready. He hadn’t done this before, but I’ve flown into other countries tons of times. Really annoying questions, not happy border agents, and a few sideways glances, and we’d be on our way. Okay, so maybe a car search, we did drive from that southern state. We might have drugs, what do they know? So when we were handed our passports back and asked to pull over, I figured that was it.
The border agent not only told us to wait in the car, which was wrong, but we had to answer the questions again by an immigration officer. And can I mention how much I didn’t wanna get out of the car? You do NOT move when crossing borders unless they ask you to. I was so afraid of being arrested for getting out of my car!
The immigration officer was terse, but normal. She made assumptions about my brother’s life I wasn’t happy with, but then the kicker came. Had either one of us ever been arrested? Well I am lame, so no. I haven’t ever been. My brother on the other hand … well there was one small problem.
In 2003, he wrote a check for self storage and it bounced because he closed the account a few months later. The bank nor the storage place mentioned this to him for a year. S0 2004 rolls around, and he gets a notice about the check. When going down to take care of it, the county court house officer tells him there is a warrant, and that he needs to be processed. Let me mention now, this was a $40 check.
So not knowing what was going on, he paid all the fines, and agreed to one year of probation. June 21, 2005 was the end of the probation period. Since he knew that there was a Class C Mideameanor on his record, he told the immigration officer. The look on her face gave it all away. He wasn’t allowed into Canada. Oh and it was recorded as a Class B Misdemeanor. Thanks Tom Green County.
But I was more than welcome to leave him at a hotel and go over myself. But who does that??? Really???
I spent hours (after the hour drive back to the nearest town) on the Internet, and sure enough, any criminal record is grounds for denial of entry to Canada. The only way around it was a waiver (only during the week between 8-4pm) or a “Criminal Rehabilitation” process. That would take weeks and court documents. And the process can only be complete 5 years after the end of the sentence. I’ll wait for you to count … June 21, 2010. Yep, even during the week there was no hope. All because of a misplaced check in 2003. *sigh*
I got Lyndsay to write a Letter of Invitation, and we tried ONE more time the next day. Didn’t work but the officer this time was much nicer. We never lied and they understood why we had to try again.
So three car searches later (2 US, 1 Canadian), 2 background checks, and a few hours with Lyndsay and Lyndon Reid in Grand Forks, ND, we turned around and headed back south. Thankfully, the trip wasn’t a total loss. We got to see Lyndon and Lyndsay, and stopped in Missouri to see some old family friends.
Now for the process of getting this stupid thing off his record. No, not going through rehabilitation, this thing needs to be GONE.
And to the US and Canadian Border Offices. GET ALONG! Stop giving decent citizens on both sides shit for no reason. This was just as stupid as Lyndsay’s denial to the US. I know we are all about border safety, but really? A bounced $40 check? 7 years ago?