Driving home from Virginia yesterday, I got off one exit early in Detroit. Two-tenths of a mile more, and I would have been fine. I unfortunately and unwittingly fell short, and ended up in Canada for an hour.
It wasn’t meant to be this way. I was five minutes from my destination, but I read my GPS wrong. I veered off onto the only exit on this planet that takes you across an international border with no opportunity to rectify your mistake, and watched in horror as the time on my GPS went from 5 minutes remaining to 23. Little did I know this was an understatement.
I paid the $5 USD toll to go over the bridge and made it to the border agent. She told me they get wrong turns all the time and that I just had to pull into the customs area and show them a yellow piece of paper she gave me. I figured it would take 15 minutes.
Instead, three or four of the Canadian border patrol made me leave my car as they tore it apart to search for… I don’t know what. Probably cannabis or alcohol. After they were finished, I had to go into the immigration office and show them the piece of paper that said I just made a wrong turn.
The time I stepped into that room to the time I got back to my car was 30-40 minutes. The time I spent waiting in line to see the agents on both the Canadian and US sides was easily another 20-30. The police were remarkably quick about searching my vehicle. Thanks, guys.
Finally, I was released from customs and made my way to the American border. I was the next car up—very exciting. And then the gate closed. Because it was 5 PM.
I was upset.
It only took six or seven minutes before it reopened. The US border agent had the courtesy to search my trunk one more time, in case I picked up any weed from the Canadians. And then I was sent away and allowed to pay another $5 toll before heading to my original destination.
The lesson? Pay attention, I suppose. And if you make a mistake, don’t be surprised if it turns out a lot worse than you’d expected it to.