Sunday, March 29, 2009

Going Through Customs










The Current Customs

At the airport in Vancouver, B.C., the border's
inside the terminal, which is many miles and
kilometers from the border, so the border
in the airport's even more arbitrary, let us
say imaginary, than the "real" one. You

round a corner that's under reconstruction,
and at some point, the linoleum becomes
"U.S.A" not "Canada." You have to take off
your shoes, declare you're not a farm-animal,
surrender anything sharp or metal, expose
your collection of sad toiletries (including bad
aftershave that was on sale), and allow
the underwear in your luggage to be X-ray-ed
to see if it has pulmonary problems.

Finally you approach a glass-enclosed booth
and show your passport. The customs-agent
either sells you a movie-ticket, tells you your
passport belong to Franz Kafka and arrests
you, or lets you back into the nation where
you pay taxes--even though you already
passed a sign that said, "Welcome to the
United States of America." Our customs get

more labyrinthine every year, and does
anyone besides the Germans stamp
passports anymore with that authoritative
whack of ink? Anyway, having passed
the point of demarcation, you buy coffee
from an outpost of a multinational
corporation using a tossed salad of
two currencies. A recent immigrant serves

you. His daughter will become
an entrepreneur, a civil rights attorney,
or a diplomat in Canada, the U.S., or
a country-to-be-named-later. You
have passed through customs.
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