21 August 2010
When I touched down in Seattle customs were waiting, they held me for two hours because I was ‘different’. When I arrived I got past the first member of US security, I even thought I’d successfully talked my way past the second check point when out of the blue the asshole hands me a ‘red card’ and requests that I take it over yonder. A ‘red card’, Christ what is with that? Is this some kind of goddamn football match, had I just been sent off? Well yes, essentially I’d been ‘sent off’ the normal incoming path and now found myself not quite in the United States of America but not quite anywhere else either. I was taken into a private room where a black female border guard and a white male border guard proceeded to take turns interrogating me on the same questions.
On numerous occasions they would revert back to their favourite question, the one they seemed to have the most trouble with; it gave me trouble too when they worded it like ‘that’. “So tell me again why exactly you want to come to the United States of America for three months?” They of course knew that this question was somewhat counter intuitive, part of them no doubt felt unpatriotic to even ask such a question. But if I were to answer with what they thought was obviously the correct answer they would have me trapped, “Ha” they would exclaim triumphantly “You want to become an illegal immigrant!“
The difference of course was in our world perspectives, they no doubt felt that the United States of America was the greatest country in the world and thought I was trying to immigrate to their great nation. While in reality I only wanted to backpack around the place before heading up to Canada, in essence I was just trying to see the place so that I could verify why I already suspected – that it wasn’t the greatest place in the world to live, simply the most misinformed.
Despite how I worded my answer they just didn’t seem to get it, the idea that anyone may simply want to come and travel around the US for a few months before leaving seemed a little farfetched. All in all I was in interrogation for around two hours, all my stuff was completely emptied and inspected, my notebooks were read, my US itinerary was discussed. Finally I was again informed how highly unusual my situation was, but they gave me my passport back and sent me on my way. I was now in the United States of America.
When I stepped off the light rail in Seattle I received a heart warming welcome from Jilly, Janey, my mum and Ella from the over bridge in the station. It was so nice of them to still be there after I didn’t turn up for multiple hours and I instantly felt guilty for not having had the foresight during my interrogation to request a phone call and let them all know what was going on.