Jun 14

Boorish border guards don’t help a country’s image

I’ve been to Canada any number of times and have always enjoyed the overall experience. Except, that is, for the border crossing interrogations. Man, talk about intense. Gitmo’s got nothing on Canada.

Yesterday’s incident was typical. As I was leaving Niagara Falls, Ontario, I received the third degree from a tough-as-nails crossing guard who had a very serious chip on his shoulder. To wit:

Crossing Guard: "What was the purpose of your visit?"

Repman: "I was invited to speak before the Canadian Public Relations Society’s annual conference."

Crossing Guard: "Really? Why do we need Americans to tell us what to do?"

Repman: "I can’t answer that. I was happy to do it, though."

Crossing Guard: "What did you talk about?"

Repman: "All sorts of public relations issues and trends."

Crossing guard: "Such as?"

And so on and so forth. He kept me at the gate for at least 10 minutes, and asked me everything from length of stay to where I lived and worked in the U.S. (He really struggled with the fact that I lived in Jersey, but worked in NYC. I guess they don’t commute in Niagara Falls). Anyway, when I was finally released, I felt as if I’d been grilled by Sipowitz of NYPD Blue fame.

As I said, this wasn’t the first time I’d been badgered by a boorish Canadian crossing guard. One guy actually delayed me for a good half hour because he was convinced I had come to Canada to steal their intellectual property.

I’m sure there are bogus crossing/customs people in every country. And, clearly, they have a serious job to do. But, going overboard to beat up an otherwise harmless U.S. citizen reflects poorly on a country and detracts from the overall travel experience. Maybe the Canadian Tourist Board can hold a few "personality" workshops for the guards. They might also want to explain that "invited" guests to their country might think twice about coming back and sharing information if an interrogation awaits them at every crossing.