My Fella and I pulled up to the Osoyoos/Oroville crossing at mid-morning.
The good news? We were the only vehicle in line.
The bad news? It still took roughly one hour to enter the USA.
While we sat in the RV, the booth guard asked all the usual questions: Can I see your passports? Where is your home? Where are you heading? For how long? Just you two in the RV? What do you do for work? How much currency are you carrying? Any weapons or alcohol on board? Any fruits or veggies? Have you ever been denied entry to the USA? Ever been fingerprinted or convicted of a crime? (that was a new one - we hadn't gotten that one before)
Nice guy, very non threatening. Ten minutes later he gives us our ag tag and tells us to pull the rig ahead and go inside the office.
Apparently he was The Good Cop.
The Bad Cop (customs guy #2) was waiting for us inside. He was older, more cynical, and had a much longer list of questions:
- Where do you reside?
- Where are you heading?
- For how long?
- Where are you staying?
- Do you have proof of where you're staying?
- Do you work?
- Where do you work?
- Don't you work in the winter?
- Will you be working in the USA?
- How will you support yourself in our country?
- How much cash are you carrying?
- Are you sure that's all the cash you have with you?
- How do we know you're not going to work in the USA?
- How do we know you plan on returning to Canada?
- Are you sure you won't be working in the USA? (this question was repeated numerous times and seemed to be his biggest concern)
He also asked about our itinerary (where are you going? where exactly will you stay? for how long? etc, etc.) At one point he got out a piece of paper and a pencil and started writing it down. Dude, don't you have a computer for that?
An attempt at intimidation, maybe? What was he gonna do with that paper - mail it to the FBI? :)
I'm just glad we've been through this questioning from past border crossings, and knew what to expect.
This year we arrived at the border armed with proof that we lived and worked in Canada and had every intention of returning. I had a folder jam packed with all My fella's pay stubs from the past 5 seasons at the golf course, plus credit card statements leaving a paper trail of where we spend the spring/summer months. Also in the folder were our vehicle registrations, BC health care coverage, our travel medical insurance, our dog papers, etc, etc).
But Bad Cop didn't want to see any of it. He just wanted to chat. Most of his questions were routine, but some were obvious fishing expeditions.
For example, early in the conversation I told him I don't work outside the home; I stay home and manage our investments. We spent several minutes on that subject, then moved onto something else. Then out of the blue, Bad Cop asked: "Where is your license?"
me: For what?
Bad Cop: To trade stocks.
me: I don't have a license.
him: Why not?
me: I don't need a license to trade stocks thru a discount brokerage. I'm not a financial advisor or a broker - I just manage our money. No one pays me. I trade for us.
Bad Cop: Who is 'us'?
me: Us. Me and My Fella (pointing at us)
him: So you don't work?
me: Not outside the home. I just manage our money and our investments.
him: You don't manage anyone elses money?
him: Are you sure? (what? Really??? Geez, not that I know of)
AND THEN a few minutes later Bad Cop asks me, ""Who is your employer?"
him: Who do you work for?
And then there was this fun exchange:
Bad Cop: How much money do you have in your account?
me: What account?
him: Your account.
me: What account? Our bank account? Our investment account? I'm not sure what you mean. (confused look on my face)
him: Do you have money other than what you declared?
me: We declared all the cash we have with us right now. Yes we have other money, but not with us. We declared all the cash we are carrying.
him: How much?
me: How much what? I don't understand what you're asking.
him: How much money do you have in your account?
me: How much money do we have? Are you asking how much money we have access to if we need more money while we're travelling?
him: How much money do you have access to? If we asked for proof of other funds, how much money do you have in your accounts?
Can he even ask us this? Pretty sure that was crossing a line, but I tossed out the total balance from our trading accounts. Afterwards, My Fella said Bad Cop went a little bug eyed when he heard the dollar amount. Good. That was satisfying.
YES WE HAVE ENOUGH MONEY TO VISIT YOUR COUNTRY!!! AND NO, WE WON'T BE WORKING HERE!!!
A few questions later he abruptly ended our interview and asked us to sit down. Then the ag inspector joined The Bad Cop and we all went outside to the RV.
We leashed the muttz and My Fella and I stood outside JohnnyDisco while they toured the rig, searching for weapons, drug money and contraband fruits. The ag inspector was very nice (as she walked away with our tomatoes) and we were on our way shortly after that.
It wasn't the worst border crossing ever, but we're resigned to the fact that this will happen to us for the next 10 or 15 years. Or until they open the Canada/USA border. In the big picture, it's just a minor annoyance; a small price to pay for entry to our winter adventures.
But I am curious about something... Do older snowbirds (age 50's and 60's) get asked these questions too?
just a sidenote: The US ag inspector confiscated our tomatoes and red peppers. Last year it was oranges and limes. The year before, green onions. Flip a coin.