Don’t mess with Canada

Steve Schirra

It took two Canadian Border Control officers to finally get me to clean my car.

Traveling with a photographer friend on a magazine assignment in Detroit, we decided it would be fun to hop across the border to the land of the maple leaf – Canada – and partake in a spot of gambling.

As we crossed the bridge from the United States to Canada, I didn’t notice my freedoms slowly drifting out the window with the cloves we were smoking.

I desperately needed someone to explain border-crossing etiquette. As I approached the booth to be questioned by the Canadian officer, I panicked and frantically tried to slide my driver’s license out of my wallet.

“What are you doing here gentlemen?” he said briskly. He was the Canadian version of the cold, New York cops I often see on “Law and Order.”

His question caught me off guard. What was I doing?

“I… I…”

He found my weakness and pounced.

“What?” he barked.

“We’re going to Windsor…” I said, squirming.


I wanted to start crying. Surely I was a terrorist for not really being able to express, in words, why I wished to enter Canada.

After sucking all the self-esteem from my body and yelling about how my car was loud, the officer flagged my car for a search.

In the garage, two other officers dug through my car and began whispering when they looked at my back seat.

I’ll be the first to admit that my Taurus was well overdue for a cleaning, but I never thought an abundance of Arby’s wrappers, boxer shorts and old Target paychecks in the back of my sedan was grounds for expulsion from Canada.

“We are sending you back,” he said with a cynical grin, “because your back seat is full of shit.”

If I ever told this to my mother, I would never hear the end of it. Yes, Mom, my car was so filthy that the Canadians sent me back to the good old U.S. of A. to clean it, and I did so obediently.

On my way back to Canada I sheepishly explained my situation to another officer who rolled his eyes. I told him I was sent back to clean my car.

“And did you clean it oot?” he asked.

“Yeeessss,” I said like a child requesting permission to play outside with his friends.

After another quick inspection, we were given the go-ahead to enter Canada in my newly cleaned car and spend our night in Casino Windsor, surrounded by slot-playing old ladies, flashing lights and all the alcohol our stomachs could handle.

Roadtrip accomplished.

Steve Schirra is a junior English major, the Forum editor and AME / Web for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].