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View Full Version : My Canadian Odyssey: Part 2


JBM
07-02-2008, 12:22 PM
By popular demand...

When last we left our intrepid hero (yours truly), I went to bed Friday night, secure in the knowledge I had the documentation I needed to get me across the Canadian border on Saturday morning and show up at work Monday.

I learned my lesson the day before and got something to eat immediately before passing through the toll booth on the Port Huron (US) side of the bridge. Fortunately, there was a lot less traffic that morning, in part because I beat the rush, and it was grey and overcast...not exactly fun-at-the-lake day.

It took a lot less time to reach the Canadian customs gate, and as the previous day, I was handed the yellow slip and directed to the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) building for the car inspection and to go to their immigration office.

By now, I was feeling really good about how smoothly things were going...light traffic, got my paperwork. But the chill hit once again.

There she was. The school marm masquerading as an armed CBSA agent. The first words out of her mouth were, do you have the documents for a work permit?

I replied I didn't have those, at which point she looked like she was going to give me the bum's rush straight back to the USA (her glance almost said "What part of 'no' didn't you understand yesterday?"), but I told her I had documents and a legal opinion that said I didn't need one.

That quieted her for a few moments, but after looking over the documernts referencing NAFTA and post-sales support, she reiterated that I would still need a work permit because my job description was not covered under that provision, and again gave me papers refusing me entry.

This was most definitely NOT what I wanted to hear. Again, I headed back to the States, but seeing a longer line on the bridge (all those Canadians taking advantage of the stronger Loonie to buy American), I went to the duty-free store to check out Coffee Lodge.

An aside: Coffee Lodge is a small chain of two free-standing coffee shops in Sarnia, another at the food court of the Lambton Mall on the east side of Sarnia, and the fourth at the duty-free shop. All their coffee is fair-trade, and I highly recommend you try their Mapled Mocha Java and French Caramel roasted-in-flavored coffees. Here's hoping they expand throughout western Ontario.

After going back to US Customs and clearing out of the joint US-Canadian computer system (to verify I actually went back to Canada), my first step was to go back to the Holiday Inn Express. They were nice enough to allow me to use the lobby to send urgent E-mails to all parties and call my contacts. Clearly, it would require a new strategy.

In the meantime, I took advantage of the opportunity to go north of Port Huron to see where I used to live. The gloomy weather was appropriate. I saw some things that brought back a lot of great memories, such as Lakeport State Park, and some really bad ones (our house was burned down in the course of moving when I was younger, and although it was ruled arson, nobody was ever arrested). I was amazed at how the two-lane road didn't look as wide as it had seemed as a kid, the hill across the road not as big. Everything is relative, for when you are 36" tall, everything looks big.

Back in Port Huron, I stopped at a Big Boy restaurant that had WiFi so I could see if anyone had any further bright ideas. The hostess was kind enough to locate me in a booth with a power outlet and away from others. I made a reservation for one more night at the HIX in Port Huron and called the Drawbridge Inn in Sarnia to cancel the Saturday night reservation. Since I tied up the booth for 60 to 90 minutes, I left a significant tip to cover the time I "hogged" the booth.

The best advice I received was from a GE Canada rep. Apparently, someone suggested I try going to Detroit and crossing at the Ambassador Bridge to Windsor, Ontario. He recommended against that, because while Windsor is apparently a lot less strict than Sarnia's CBSA office, the fact that I was turned away twice in two days was a red flag. Any further crossing attempts without having all the Ts crossed and the Is dotted might result in my being banned from the country for at least a year.

What to do now, besides wait in Michigan? That'll wait for Part 3.

Arizona Road Warrior
07-02-2008, 01:24 PM
That quieted her for a few moments, but after looking over the documernts referencing NAFTA and post-sales support, she reiterated that I would still need a work permit because my job description was not covered under that provision, and again gave me papers refusing me entry. Did you asked to speak to her supervisor to review your documents? Based upon what you have written so far, I donít think that this custom agent is going to allow you to enter under the NAFTA regulations. Unless she is on a lunch break or isnít working, her mind is set that you need a work permit. If you donít want to try another crossing, I think that you have to spend the money for a work permit and etc.

JBM
07-02-2008, 01:45 PM
Did you asked to speak to her supervisor to review your documents? Based upon what you have written so far, I donít think that this custom agent is going to allow you to enter under the NAFTA regulations. Unless she is on a lunch break or isnít working, her mind is set that you need a work permit. If you donít want to try another crossing, I think that you have to spend the money for a work permit and etc.

This is not happening in the present. This story began in July 2007. Wait until you hear Parts 3 and beyond.

CruiseExpert
07-02-2008, 03:25 PM
This is not happening in the present. This story began in July 2007. Wait until you hear Parts 3 and beyond.
Let's go! You roped us all in and now we want the next chapter.

Carchar
07-02-2008, 04:28 PM
You'd better copyright all this. I can see it becoming the next best seller! :D (Wish I had the emoticons back!)

Fireman
07-02-2008, 06:31 PM
:eek:You're still in Pt. Huron?

wrp96
07-02-2008, 07:00 PM
:eek:You're still in Pt. Huron?

At least he's not stuck circling that roundabout!

weblet
07-02-2008, 08:07 PM
:eek:You're still in Pt. Huron?
I'm headed thru Pt Huron/Sarnia tomorrow... I'll holler. ;)

JBM
07-03-2008, 08:45 AM
I don't know if Fireman was referring to me or Weblet; if he's referring to me, I am back home in the Land of Oz (not for much longer...moving back to the Peoples Democratic Republic of Oregon in late August).

Not sure what Carchar is referring to about a roundabout around Port Huron or Sarnia. I remember those in New England when I was a babe in the 60s and my parents drove from Detroit to Maine to see my aunts. I thought those were sooooooooooooooooo cool.

Hang on for Part 3 and beyond.

Carchar
07-03-2008, 12:49 PM
Not sure what Carchar is referring to about a roundabout around Port Huron or Sarnia. I remember those in New England when I was a babe in the 60s and my parents drove from Detroit to Maine to see my aunts. I thought those were sooooooooooooooooo cool.



I'm not sure either, since it was wrp96 that mentioned it. However, as young parents in the 60s, we didn't find the rotaries (as they were called in New England then) cool. We used to enter them and have to drive around and around until we were sure where to get out. :p

JBM
07-03-2008, 09:38 PM
You are correct...it was wrp96 who mentioned the roundabout. My bad.

Of course, if you "liked" the NE Traffic Circles, you'd love the L.A. freeway system. It's just about as advertised on Art Fern's "Tea Time Movies" on the Johnny Carson-era Tonight Show. Take some spaghetti, dip it in ink, and toss it at poster board. That's as good a map as any of SoCal freeways.

Ned
07-03-2008, 09:46 PM
JBM, the thing I immensely dislike about the SoCal freeways is the disappearing lane. You might be driving along in an outside lane and all of a sudden without any warning whatsoever it's gone, and you're forced to merge into a lane that doesn't want you there. I5 is notorious about this. The first time I drove on I5 I almost had 3 accidents due to the disappearing lane. Now I'm used to that particular road, and know ahead of time when lanes end, and anticipate that, but I see folks new to I5 have the same problems I had, every time I'm on it.

You are correct...it was wrp96 who mentioned the roundabout. My bad.

Of course, if you "liked" the NE Traffic Circles, you'd love the L.A. freeway system. It's just about as advertised on Art Fern's "Tea Time Movies" on the Johnny Carson-era Tonight Show. Take some spaghetti, dip it in ink, and toss it at poster board. That's as good a map as any of SoCal freeways.

tdew
07-04-2008, 07:06 AM
The first time I drove on I5
Ned, you just reminded me of a quirk that I've only heard in CA.
Out there they drive on THE 15, THE 5 or THE 10.

Is there anywhere else that this is common?