Wednesday started like any other day, but by the end, I wish I could have had a "do over." I went to work, visited with Glenn and Edna, said goodbye to Dan, their visiting son and headed to town to get some fuel and groceries. It sounds pretty basic... but not for me!
Last week when I went to the bank there was an error and after depositing my cheque I had no money. The insurance company had received an unauthorized payment and I was stranded, an hour from home, no fuel or cash. Fortunately the library had a computer and after some confusion and stress I had it all straightened out. If all went well, I should pull into my driveway by about 5:05 pm.
I was sure this week would be smooth sailing! Bank, check, no problem! Now I simply had to get a few groceries and fuel across the border, but first wanted to get a few things in Woodstock. How can I go into a store for an item or two and then lose an hour of time? It always amazes me! As I checked out of the store, getting some amazing deals after Christmas on items that were 75% off! I looked at the time... 3:45pm! OH NO!
Race to the truck! Skip the feed store! Race to the border! The US Border Patrol Officer to me: "Where are you headed ma'am?" Me trying to speak slowly although rushing: "Just home to Fosterville, via the Orient border crossing." Officer: "Are you stopping anywhere or going straight through?" Me: "I am stopping in Houlton quickly for fuel and some groceries, then home." Officer: (looking at his watch which now shows 3:57pm Atlantic time) "Good luck!" Me: "THANKS!"
Off I went! Zoom! To Houlton, first stop, bank machine. Second stop, grocery store! I hurried through the aisles, trying to get a few specials items to bake some artisan bread with flavours such as sun dried tomatoes, feta cheese, sliced olives, red peppers and more. A few items for the girls lunches and voila! I am done!
Now for the grocery line! YAY! Only one person ahead of me! No problem! Except... this lovely lady, of about 80 years of age, was sloooowwwllyyy looking through her purse for change, coupons and her rewards card. HURRY UP!!!! I stood there, tapping my fingers, trying to be discreet, leg rocking, breath going shallow... P U H L E E Z E ... MOVE it lady!!! Ugh! FINALLY done!
Now for me. Yes, I am fine! Yes, nice day! Yes, not into a chit chat with you now thanks! (OK I didn't say that out loud and I really tried not to look impatient, but c'mon already! Just pack the damn food!!!!)
Out the door! Trying not to knock over any shoppers in the parking lot. (I did get a few looks as I pulled out!) Over to the gas station, threw some diesel into Buddy and in to pay! To speed things up I already had USD so I didn't have to worry about the exchange. I asked the woman at the check out the time. 3:30pm (which is 4:30pm to us) and I said, OH! I am rushing, have to get to the border crossing in the next 30 minutes! She wished me luck and off I went.
I will admit, I did break a few speed limits but I was CERTAIN I could make it! The roads were dry, still light out... in fact I was watching the sun go down and thinking how nice it was that the days were getting longer as I viewed the pink sunset. The traffic was light and I moved! I did swerve once on the highway on a corner so I reduced my speed to increase safety. I listened to CBC/Shift on the drive and when they started to tell the 5:00pm news as I made the turn off US Highway 1A to head to the border crossing, I kind of freaked out! My clock said 4:55pm but they were about to start the news, so someone was wrong!
I was only minutes from home! I WOULD make it!!! I was low on fuel (again!) and had no extra cash, I didn't know if I could make it back to the Woodstock crossing. I live pay day to pay day and most of the time it was OK but when things went wrong... it could make me mental! The side road to the border was a bit icy and after another slide I pulled up to the Orient/Fosterville border crossing between the USA and Canada.
|Len outside our customs building|
|Through the border|
OH NO!!! The gates were pulled across, the lights flashing and giant STOP signs looking at me. My heart dropped! Well, maybe playing stupid and explaining my predicament would convince the Americans to let me drive the wrong way through THEIR gate! I parked Buddy, motor running, lights on, door open and ran up to the US guards door. He pushed open his window and told me I was out of luck, I couldn't use the phone, it didn't matter that my clock was slow and he really did NOT care what I had to say. I couldn't believe it! No amount of tears, anxiety, the fact that I was about a mile from my house, could convince him. He wouldn't even let me use the phone!
I was devastated! I had spent the last hour worked up in such a state of angst, hurrying and stress that I completely lost it. I sat in the truck, turned off the motor and lights and proceeded to bawl my eyes out! Yup, heaving, hiccuping and quivering lips! Eventually I started the truck and slowly drove away. I knew that nothing I did would convince them to assist me. I was no one. At the most they maybe saw me as a terrorist. Someone who was going to illegally enter Canada and bake bread to poison the masses!
|Shoe Tree on the way to Houlton|
When I got to the gas station the attendant said "Hey! You're back!" I said, sighing heavily, "Yes... I didn't make it. Well, that's not true, I just made it there two minutes late and had to turn back." She said, "No way!" Me, "way". Then, I asked if I could use the store's phone to make a long distance call to Canada to let my family know where I was. I had $2 US and could pay for the call. She was very sweet and said, "No, just use my cell phone." AH!!!! Thank you sweet girl!
I then called home, to my agitated children to explain today's drama from their mama. They were glad to hear from me and I was relieved to find out that Rachel had made it home (she had tutoring and I hadn't been able to phone her ride.) I hung up, my relief showing in my face as the checkout girl smiled and I told her how grateful I was to be able to use her phone. I then confided in her, that over an hour before, when at the station, I had to pee and still hadn't gone! She laughed and I went to the restroom. WOW what a relief!
Ten minutes later, I sat at the Woodstock border crossing, again and had to explain to the border guard why I was there. He went through all my receipts, looked at me like I was a bit of a nut and let me back into my home country. Sometimes, there is nothing like coming home! I had left Canada 2 hours before and was no closer to my farm.
I had to go back to town, return some items I had purchased so that I could get more fuel to get back to Fosterville and by 7pm was on the road again. The Hwy 540 had NEVER looked so good! I pulled up to my house at about 7:45pm, tired, cold, hungry and in pain. I guess during the last few hours I had tensed up a bit and my old neck injury from the trip across Canada had flared up.
All I wanted was to get into my jammies, have a bowl of mini wheats for supper and go to bed. Wednesday, could have been a do over and do different! What is the moral of this story? You can't bluff your way through a closed border crossing!