Black Friday at the American border
The approach to the U.S. border crossing over the Peace Bridge to Buffalo, N.Y., is packed with cars and trucks -- who else is crossing from Canada into the United States the night of Thanksgiving? -- and my bus has done nothing so far but make a circuit of the crossing's parking area. Two and a half days ago, we were delayed an hour or more at the crossing into Canada, and my far from full bus was one of only two or three vehicles waiting to cross. The profusion of buses and semis here, and the continual American ratcheting up of border security measures makes me suspect that I will be sitting on the bus in this parking lot for a good many hours yet.
• On the one hand, there's heat in the bus. On the other, there is no Internet connection despite Megabus' claim that WiFi is available on its vehicles.I'll be back later with more news from the U.S.-Canada border.
• On the one hand, I have in my carry-on bag three of the ten books I bought at Farley's in New Hope, Pa,; Mysterious Book Shop in New York, and Nicholas Hoare and Sleuth of Baker Street in Toronto on this trip. On the other, I doubt I have enough battery life in my reading light to last as long as it will take to get through this understaffed and rule-burdened border station. (It's going to take me longer to get into the U.S. than it took to get through airport security in Tel Aviv.) On yet another, I have just found that the reading lights on the bus work.
• On the one hand, my otherwise pleasant neighbor is talking loudly on her cell phone, probably trying to explain her predicament. (I can't tell for sure; she's speaking Russian. She just started laughing, so maybe her hard life has inured her to petty annoyances.) On the other, I have a set of ear plugs.
Just heard a long, loud expulsion of air, and I thought we might be about to move. Alas, I think the driver was just shutting the bus's doors.
We're moving...which means the inspection may finally be about to begin.
about 11 p.m.
One of two officers assigned to question and to process the documents of two busloads and one parking lot full of border crossers leaves the office and steps out in the lot, leaving his single colleague behind to do all the work.
I ask my inspector "How are you?"
He says, "I'll tell you in--" and he looks at the clock-- "thirty-five minutes."
"You get off then?"
"You short-staffed for Thanksgiving?"
Second inspector, now returned, rolls his eyes and says "And we weren't expecting two carriages."
It's good to know that no matter how miserable I am, someone else is worse off.
Megabus sends an e-mail blaming the delay on problems at the Canadian border.)
Back on the bus. One of my fellow riders, an old Chinese woman, looks like she wants to stick acupuncture needles in her head.
Still not moving. Beginning to fear my prediction of a midnight departure may come true.
Bus driver, bringing supplies to the lavatory: "Soap, and you're home!" to much laughter.
"I look at you," he says, indicating a woman wrapped from the neck down in an improvised blanket, "and I look at him," indicating me in my T-shirt, and he shakes his head, to more laughter.
We're on our way!
(Post illustrated with selections from my Toronto haul.)
© Peter Rozovsky 2012