Thursday, June 16, 2011

Secondary Inspection

I'm deep in this week's issue of US Weekly when I hear a loud thump at the back of my car. I look back and see that it's just a Border Patrol agent with a dog and the dog must have jumped onto the back bumper, no biggie. It's not enough to take me away from the intimate details of Kim Kardashian's latest relationship. That's right; not only am I freakishly obsessed with bacon, but I'm well-read too.

I carry on with my reading for about another 30 minutes at which point I get a knock on the window. I look up to find that the agent and his pal Lassie never left my car and there are now about 4 more Border Patrol agents around my car, maybe 5 or 6 Customs agents and 3 oddly tall, Thor/Hulk types in khaki with what I can only assume to be sawed-off shotguns. Not sure who they were. It was... intimidating? I was okay with it though, I have nothing to hide. I roll down my window, smile, say good morning, how can I help you? A wonderful woman who lives on the border in Matamoros told me a couple of years ago to "kill them with kindness" and it was one of the best tips of border crossing I have ever received. It's hard to muster up friendly conversation with someone who is not friendly at all, much less at 5:00 AM after having waited 2 hours to cross a line in the sand. The smiles always prove to be well worth it in the end. If BP doesn't like you they can make your life a serious pain in the rear.

"Turn off your vehicle ma'am."

"What was the purpose of your trip to Mexico?"

"Where are you going?"

"Where do you work?"

"Where is that?"

"That's a weird name, what kind of work to you do?"

"Why do you live in Mexico?"

"Can't he just get his papers?"

"I've never heard of that ban before. Have you consulted with an attorney?"

"Why Juarez?"

"Anything to declare?"



"Wouldn't Tijuana be better?"


"More than $10,000?"


"Is this your vehicle?"

"Have you had any repair work done to the vehicle?"

"When did you buy the vehicle?"

"Seriously... Juarez?"

Fun stuff. At this point we are going on 45 minutes with like 15 agents surrounding my car. I'm trying not to pay attention to them. They're walking down the bridge alongside my car as the line progresses. I'm wondering if it would be inappropriate to go back to my magazine. They take turns coming to my window and asking the aforementioned questions over and over as the rest determine whether or not my back doors sound hollow or if my trunk has some sort of secret compartment full of mangoes. I start wondering if someone could have gotten onto our street in the middle of the night and stashed something in my car. I try to remember if the security guard actually showed up for work last night. I'm running out of places to look without seeming sketchy and paranoid.

Ahhh screw it. I pick up my magazine. Oooh Leanne Rimes lost weight! Wow Ashlee Simpson's cheating on her husband? Yes people, it's the little things. I'm still just as American as ever. And there's nothing like a good celebrity scandal to take my mind off of the reality of life.

"Oh, I'm sorry, what was that? You want to see my passport? I'm sorry I was so engrossed in my magazine here." Yeah Emily, way to act casual...

"Ma'am the dog smelled cocaine in your spare tire."


"We're going to have to take a better look."


Although there is always that lingering fear in the back of my mind that someone could have done something (?) to my car at some point during the night, there were really only 2 things worrying me at the time. 1: I hope they "take a better look" quickly because I am exhausted and was really looking forward to a nap in the Walmart parking lot. And 2: Did the dog tell the agent that he smelled cocaine specifically? Was there an actual conversation in some sort of secret K-9 language? Was Lassie like, "I think I found something!" And the officer said, "Is it marijuana?" :serious doggie pause: "Nah, it's coke this time boss." I wanted badly to make light of the situation and tell the BP agent that if this dog actually told him it was cocaine then the dog may be better suited with a career in Hollywood than in Juarez, but I bit my tongue. Funny thing about CBP... they don't think that sort of comment is funny. It's sort of like joking about bombs in airports; it doesn't really sit well with people.

Once I (finally) got through the line I was sent to the secondary inspection area where they make you get out of the car and sit on this metal bench. You aren't allowed to look at the car while they inspect it. I've decided that this must be because CBP believes that I'm such a badass that I have the ability to move my things from one section of my car to another with only my eyes, as to never be caught in my drug smuggling schemes. The bench is dusty as all hell so you get that sexy brown film all over your work slacks and since I'm so short my feet don't touch the ground, after about 30 minutes of my chubby legs dangling there I start to lose feeling in my toes. This is what leads up to my favorite part. It is finally determined that I am not a drug smuggler and Lassie was just having an off day and/or smelled some of my dogs' pee on the tire. I am told that I am free to go. When I stand up, my foot is asleep and I get that super fun, tingling sensation which causes me to laugh uncontrollably. Everyone looks at me like I am crazy as I try to stifle the giggles.

The pins and needles sensation helps me finish off the experience with a smile. Although I was annoyed to have missed my nap, after all is said and done, I don't want drugs getting into the US anymore than the next guy and I do value and appreciate the work they are attempting to do.

Just another fun day on the border baby!


  1. I love you, Emi. I have no other comment, but I felt like that one needed to be made. Thank you for blogging.

  2. How did they take a closer look at your tire? Did they tear it open? I'd be more scared that they would go and tear all your tires up than worrying about them finding something. You need tires to get home LOL.

  3. I felt bad for you over there. Jerks. I think my dogs would be much more reliable border patrol agents.

  4. ha... I've sat on that metal bench before and was panicking since I really was smuggling two boxes of birth control for my sister. Still amazed at how the dogs stiffed those out. Oh well. ;)

    Glad to hear you made it through!

  5. My first trip to Reynosa about 5 years ago I went with a couple friends who wanted to put a muffler on the truck. On the way back I answered truthfully about the purpose of the trip to Mexico. Bad move. One X-Ray and a massive search we finally were on our way an hour later.

  6. Ohmygod. I'm pretty sure the neighbors heard my laughing at your description of the dog talking. hahahahah

  7. funny stuff....I always am nervous when I have to go to secondary and I think the same things about "maybe someone snuck and hid something in my car"....:)