The Abuse of Power Hour

by Crom

People tend to curse the police when they see them. Whispering under their breath that the pigs are here, going to harass you for no reason, pull you over for nothing, and generally make your life difficult. It’s a natural occurrence, any authority conjures the bogeyman / town ogre image, we do it to make up for the inadequacy we feel when the fuzz pulls us over, and unlike our charming bar story in which we tell the cop to fuck him/herself while we light up the tires like a funny car race and burn off into obscurity, we squirm in our seat like a tape worm while mumbling apologies and deliver our insurance info. But there’s a group of mischievous imps who make the likes of the average city cop look like Atticus Finch. Right now the clever schoolchildren are scrawling “TSA” into their notebooks and feeling smug, but while those luggage riding shadow puppets are aggravating, they serve a purpose of some sort. And while my intended target also serves a purpose, it’s a service taken far too seriously. I’m pointing the finger at your friendly neighborhood Customs Agent.

Striking an almost ghostly resemblance to the agents from the matrix these hard jawed Dudley Do-Rights have far more power then cops. They can detain you for any length of time, unlike the cops. And can have little to no justification for doing so. A suspicion of a paperwork black hole can inspire the Agents to rip not only your belongings, but entire life to shit.

I’m driving from Windsor, Ontario, into Detroit Michigan, a fun ride. I expected some difficulties, since this point of entry is reputably the highest point of illegal drug smuggling. Apparently the most porous crossing on the entire 49th. I’m accompanied by two other guys from my work, let’s call them… A and B. Imaginative, I know. I inform the agent of our intent in the US; he asks “you got work Visa’s?” This puzzles me, not only because I’ve NEVER needed it before, but also because according to A, who is an Econ Major, NAFTA precludes the need for Visa’s in regard to the type of work we do. Namely the configuring of proprietary software for hotels, a task that no one in the US can do for us. In any event, we are sent to stage II of the obstacle course, the guard house.

Our NAFTA argument meaning nothing at this point. Our paperwork is then scrutinized by a confused looking dude with a sloping forehead, a fine catch from a local prison no doubt. He looks at the signature of my letter of intent and says “Are you related to this person?” I look down at the name in question, and icy fear grips my throat. You see, the manager of installations for my company happens to be my brother’s wife, who recently took his name. Ergo it’s the same as my name. Now I know we’re fucked.

These fascist dogs were simply waiting for some kind of slip up to sick their vicious pack of winged monkeys on us A La Wizard of Oz. Only brazenness and true grit saved me… “Yeah…she married my brother”. A hundred lies had jumped to my mind, variations on the truth, typos, parallel universes, etc. However he seemed to take this at face value, refraining from raping us and our belongings, he made us fill out the aforementioned visas. If you’ve ever filled out this form, you too can sympathize with me, because it’s not only idiotic, but difficult to follow. It is not that it’s hard to understand, they just didn’t lay out the area you write in, in any kind of sensible manner. Having filled it out, we returned them, and began the wait.

Ten minutes while he consulted the crystal ball and chicken entrails they had behind the counter, in an office that was kept at a temperature that was INTENTIONALLY uncomfortable. Having decided we would be allowed access, he took a few minutes to deliver rhetoric to us. We had to leave on the scheduled day according to our letters, if we wanted to stay longer we had to leave the US, get another letter for a later date, and then re-enter. A plan that would be both stupid and…stupid were we to do it. None of us felt the need to mention our flight was at 11 am that day, and we would be more then happy to get the hell out of his country well before the deadline. Antagonizing the badger is not a fun game. So now I’m in my hotel room, enjoying bottled water and writing this, and all I can think is:

What the hell’s going to happen on the way BACK?

  • The Abuse of Power Hour
  • by Crom
  • Published on October 1st, 2003

More from :

Other recent features: