Kitty Litter Smugglers
Crossing the Canadian / American border in the past was an easy thing. You didn't need a passport where you had to have a pile of other IDs, birth certificate, paperwork supporting your current residence, etc. just to cross. I remember crossing less than a decade ago even after 9/11 and all I needed was my birth certificate. Along with the strict adherence to having the correct documentation they have also began cracking down on anything crossing the border and here I thought we signed a free trade agreement long, long ago.
My most recent border crossing was no less ridiculous than the last. After having crossed my wife and I went shopping in a rather large strip mall I went to one store and she to another. After I had completed my shopping I met her back at the car and we headed to Wal-mart. At the time I didn't know it but my wife had purchased a kitty litter box for our cat which she had put in the back seat, directly behind me. After we had completed shopping for our groceries at Walmart we recrossed the border and stopped at the checkpoint as always to show our ID/Passports.
When I pulled up to the window the lady asked me what we had purchased and I told her groceries at Wal-mart and I had purchased a small storage card for my camera all of which was about $100. She asked for a receipt so I handed her both. She apparently saw the kitty litter box in the back seat and asked me, "What is that sir? That's not groceries, what is that?" I looked back behind the seat and saw the litter box. My wife was sleeping and had begun to wake up but was a tad groggy. I assumed it must have come from wal-mart so I told the lady I thought we had purchased it at Wal-mart. Well that was a mistake apparently.
Immediately she began interogatling me as though I was a criminal. "So you were going to smuggle in a kitty litter box sir!"
What? Smuggling in a kitty litter box? Are you kidding me? The whole situation was simply silly. Either way my wife didn't have a receipt for it and so we were given a yellow slip of paper and directed to a car stall where border guards could search our vehicle. They ordered us to get out of the vehicle and looked thorough it from top to bottom. Went through our personal belongings and kept asking us if we had purchased any of it over the border.
After awhile of interrogation and searching everything in our car they gave us stern warnings and let us go. Apparently I was not going to get arrested for smuggling in a kitty litter box.
Only really a few things I need to outline in this case.
1) We live just over the Canadian / American Border, probably the safest most friendly neighboring country border in the world.
2) The amount even with the kitty litter box wasn't enough that they charged me any tax.
3) No smuggler is interested in smuggling kitty litter boxes across the border. That is just silly.
Overall I have to say that I think the border patrol needs to settle down. This isn't the middle east. The dangers that exist there or at another dangerous border crossing don't exist here. There are no suicide bombings or desperate people escaping an oppressive regime to achieve freedom. I just don't think all of what happened needed to be over a kitty litter box. I will be crossing the border less now however as I don't feel more safe but less at the mercy of border guards more concerned with harassing travelers than truly keeping the border safe.