Matt Forney
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Notes from the Road: I Got Cuffed by Canadian Border Cops and Other Fun Stories

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Yes, Canada, that friendly northern country with friendly people known for letting in just about anyone, turned me away twice last week because I “had no ties to the U.S.” The second time was after I threw my passport, driver’s license, social security card, hostel booking receipts, round-trip bus ticket, names, addresses and phone numbers of my friends, and motherfucking bank statements at them. The only identifying pieces of paper I didn’t have on me at that point were my W-2 and birth certificate.

Maybe if I was poorer, browner and could only speak English in monosyllabic grunts, they’d have not only let me in but given me a ride all the way to Montreal.

The first time I was turned away, I was given a ride back over in handcuffs, because apparently government regulations require non-CBSA personnel riding in CBSA cars to be frisked and restrained. The cops were awfully polite about it, making sure my cuffs were loose. I would have asked them a picture because I was still finding the whole thing funny, but Canada’s border patrol has zero sense of humor… or anything resembling human emotion, really.

The second time I was refused entry, even after I’d brought all my credentials, I decided fuck it. Sorry Canadians, I love you, but your country is a 6 who thinks she’s a supermodel. There are far more attractive women out there with more realistic standards.

Aside from that, here’s how last week went.

Cicero, New York

Cicero, New York

Day 1: Walking north out of Syracuse, I quickly realized that my estimate of getting to Montreal in a week on foot wouldn’t work out, because I’d failed to account for the equipment I’d have to carry with me when I made my calculations. I made it as far as the northern edge of Cicero, one of the ‘burbs, before turning it in.

Or at least, trying to turn it in before I got stopped by the cops.

I stopped outside a billboard by the highway to write an entry in my journal. Five minutes later, an elderly couple drove by asking if I was okay and needed anything. I told them I was fine but thanks anyway. After finishing with the journal, I went behind the billboard fence to make camp, but I was in bed for all of ten minutes before three cops rushed me: “Put your hands in the air!”

Naturally, I was scared shitless, so I did what they said and let the cop frisk me for weapons. As it turns out, they had gotten a call from a local (presumably the old couple) that I was crying (which I wasn’t) and writing a letter to my wife (what the fuck?), and they thought I might be a danger to myself. After showing them my journal, the cop realized his mistake and drove me to a nearby park to camp out.

Colosse, New York

Day 2: A huge thunderstorm rolled in around six, inspiring me to finally get over it and try hitchhiking. My first hitch got me to a truck stop in the next county, where the weather dried up and I promptly decided to start hiking again. I made it all the way up to another truck stop after hiking all day and spent the night in their lounge after the storm started up again, getting comped with free Pepsi from the waitress and taking advantage of complimentary WiFi.

Ogdensburg, New York

Day 3: Hitched a series of rides all the way up to Ogdensburg, where I was refused entry into Canada after waiting for two hours. Walking back to town to crash at a motel, I got stopped by a couple of redneck cops who claimed I was “blocking traffic” by walking on the shoulder of the road. It was obvious they were looking for an excuse to arrest me, but since I wasn’t carrying any weapons and gave them my ID without complaint, they had to settle for giving me a ride into the city. I later discovered that I’d been walking past a goddamn supermax prison.

Yes, some moron in Albany thought putting a prison right next to a port of entry was a good idea.

Potsdam, New York

Day 4: I opted to hitch to Plattsburgh, where I could hop on a Greyhound bus and also get my other credentials sorted out. I made it as far as Malone, on the edge of the Adirondacks, before turning in. Most interesting was getting picked up by a elderly hippie-type lady with antiwar bumper stickers plastered all over her Beemer. God bless liberals for their open hearts.

Saranac Lake, New York

Day 5: Looking to avoid the prison colonies in Malone, I went south to Saranac Lake, then north again to Plattsburgh. I have a bit of nostalgia for the place, as I went to college there years ago, but I didn’t have time for much sightseeing. I was rejected from Canada again, and took the Greyhound back to Plattsburgh.

Plattsburgh, New York

Day 6: Since I was sick of the North Country already and since the Albany/Capital District area is apparently extraordinarily bad for hitching, I took the Greyhound back to Syracuse; I have to pass through this place anyway to get to Oregon.

As of this writing (Sunday), I’m still in the ‘Cuse, planning on leaving west for Buffalo in a couple of days. Overly polite, soulless border bureaucrats can’t stop me.

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