This weekend just gone was Eroticon 2017. As part of the virtual introductions, we were asked to answer a few short questions. One such question was to tell something that not many people know about me. I answered, that along with my family, I had been expelled from the U.S. As an Undesirable Alien.
I’ve been asked to explain, so here goes.
Are you sitting comfortably? Then I shall begin.
Firstly, let me set the scene a little. It was in the early 80’s. Maybe 1981. I was around ten or eleven and my sister was around eight or nine.
America had suddenly gotten antsy over immigration (much like they are again today) and they had suddenly instituted stricter border controls, insisting that visitors presented visas upon entry.
I was travelling with my sister and parents to visit our various relatives across Canada, and the last minute change by the American government meant that we hadn’t had time to acquire the necessary paperwork. Canada did not require a visa, so we didn’t give it further thought.
As part of our trip we were visiting my aunt’s sister (we’ll call her Auntie Marge for the purposes of this post). My aunt is an aunt by marriage, but we were a close family so her sister was, by extension, family. Roll with it.
Auntie Marge lived at the time in the sunny area of Niagra called St Catherines. On one of our trips around Niagara, Marges’s husband Jim (for the purposes…yadda yadda), suggested that we should take a day’s shopping trip across the Rainbow Bridge into the US.
We told him that we didn’t have a visa and were advised in reply, that as we were visiting from Canada we didn’t need one. Even the Canadian border authorities told us that we didn’t need one.
Off we went through the Canadian border, immigration officials waving us goodbye and wishing us a successful trip.
Then came the American border.
Jim and Marge were in the car in front, and as Canadians, they were waved through. Our turn came and we were asked to get out of the rental car. The arrogant twat border guard took a look at our family passport and that was the point everything got frosty.
It wasn’t the lack of a visa that was the issue. It was because of my sister’s name.
“****! is a Russian name!”
At which point, my sister and I were separated from my parents, held at gunpoint in a small room for what felt like hours. Our parents were bundled into a back room, interrogated and then searched (with latex gloves and not the fun kind of bum search either). All the side panels on our rental car were removed and the car was searched top to bottom. Meanwhile, our Canadian relatives were not allowed back to try and talk some sense into them nor were we allowed to see our parents.
Eventually, the four of us were reunited, the panels to the car stuffed in the boot and every page of our family passport, stamped to say that we had been deported from the US as “undesirable aliens”. All on the strength of one Ignorant fuckwit. **** is not a Russian name. It’s a Greek name. Moron. But it gets better – Or should I say worse.
The Canadian border officials now knew that something was up, and when we returned, tail between our legs, they refused us entry. We got the same – but much politer, third degree. At least they kept their guns holstered. Hands on them at the ready, but holstered.
The Canadians wanted to send us back to the Americans. There we were stuck between the American and Candian borders. In no man’s land on a bridge traversing the Niagra River.
This is when Uncle Jim and Auntie Marge finally managed to catch up with us. They were able to convince the Canadian border guards, that we were staying with them. And as luck would have it, we had not only our passports but our return flight tickets with us, proving our intention to leave.
The Canadians authorities put a notice in our passport that if we were not on that flight out, then my parents would become fugitives, subject to arrest, and my sister and I would become wards of the state until my parents were released.
Our time in the airport for the flight out, had us being shadowed by airport security. To top it all off – our flight was delayed by seven hours. Oh, joy.
The flight itself was not what you’d call ‘uneventful’. The reason our flight was delayed in the first place, was because a huge thunderstorm was battering the east coast of Canada. We sat in the plane, a further two hours, waiting on the taxiway for our take off slot. At least our pilot had a sense of humour.
“Ladies and Gentlemen. We’re not allowed to smoke whilst on the ground, but sod it! I’m lighting up and if you want to do the same – be my guest.”
Another half an hour waiting to taxi and there were murmurs that our plane was being returned to the hardstanding. Mum and Dad were now more than a little concerned. It was already after midnight. Our deadline to leave had passed.
The plane started to move, Our pilot came over the intercom.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, this is your Captain speaking. There is a take off slot just opened up. I haven’t been given clearance to take it, but I’m going to. Please return to your seats as this is going to be a quick takeoff.”
Two minutes later we were airborne, heading towards the storm. I don’t think anyone slept on that seven-hour flight. The storm itself had diminished in strength but seemed to have spread out. Pockets of turbulence had us rising and falling with alarming regularity and magnitude. At one point the left wingtip was even struck by lightning. The left engine wound down, reignited and we carried on. For those that don’t know, big airliners are regularly struck by lightning. They are built to withstand it. Unless the airframe is grounded, the strike does little damage – just so long as all the panels are electrically bonded properly and the static wicks are in good working order. It wasn’t until years later that I learned this (as part of my avionics training). At the time, we were all shitting ourselves silly. Guess what seats we were allocated?
As soon as we returned to blighty my Dad “lost” the family passport and we all got our own. New ones – with Visas.
A few years later I did get to go on that shopping trip across the Rainbow Bridge. It was shit. 😛