Chrissie Pissie (Christine Terepora)

Never be too old to dance in the kitchen or kiss for no reason.

Chrissie Pissie

Chrissie Pissie
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
March 17
I learned long ago not to take myself too seriously. No one else does.


Chrissie Pissie's Links
JUNE 28, 2011 9:32AM

Why Some Americans Deserve a Punch in their Zealous Nose

Rate: 16 Flag

Last Thursday, my husband and I went on a bus tour with a choir.  We and 26 others were the groupies.  I will not join this choir because they sing for the pure love of it and are totally dedicated. They meet every Friday without fail and perform almost every weekend.  I could never be so committed.   Because Adam and I have been friends with the director for many years, we are always included when they travel any distance that requires a hotel stay.  This was the third such trip.

Fifty two bleary eyed people crawled onto the bus at 5:30 in the morning and settled in for the three hour drive to the U.S. border.  When we reached Port Huron, it was 10:00am.  We dutifully pulled out our passports and lined up to show them to the customs officers.  When the choir members told the young officer they were paying for the bus and hotel from their own pockets and were receiving no money for the performances, he was heard to tell one of his peers that he thought that was bullshit, and he didn’t believe us.  Where were the legal papers stating this was not a money making trip for the choir?  Papers?  Papers were required? This was news to us all.  And so the adventure began.

He told the 24 choir members that though they had crossed the border many times before to sing, their luck had run out on this trip.  They were not going to take work away from Americans, and if they tried to cross the border at another crossing, they would be banned from the States for five years.  With mouths agape, we heard that the director was finger printed and told he would be screened every time he tried to go to the States.

The only time I got truly miffed was when we were not allowed, in the three hours we waited, to use the facilities or get off the bus.  Yes, there was a washroom on board, but we knew from experience that bus toilets, if not cleaned thoroughly and disinfected, go from a slightly swamp like odor to downright sickening.  We were using the bus for four days.  We would be way past swamp smell.  At another point during our wait, an officer came over and told the bus driver to turn off the motor as the fumes were unpleasant.  They no doubt were, but if he had turned off the engine, the bus would have been stifling and airless within minutes.  Bless him; he refused when they did not allow him to move the bus to an area where the fumes would not have been an issue.

When the director finally got on the bus at 1:00 pm., one of the choir members told us all was not yet lost.  He had called a friend who had the telephone number of a U.S. Senator.  We were escorted out of the U.S.A. When we got to the Canadian border, a young officer came aboard the bus and hollered that we were all under arrest! My thoughts were elsewhere, and for a moment I was disoriented as to which side the border we were on.  It was a “Depends” moment for me.  The roar of laughter from the group on the bus instantly reassured me where we were and I was able to join in the laughter. 

We pulled into the parking lot of a lamentably small mall and waited.  Four senators, and the inclusion of some Washington officials later, we were told we could go back.  With some trepidation, we pulled into the same border crossing.  I would have paid money to have seen the face of the young officer who had made the stand to not let us in eight hours earlier.  I actually felt sorry for him as I’m pretty sure he will get more than a slap on the wrist.  I have to give him credit; he made a stand and didn’t waver from it. Some maintained he was an arrogant puppy who was flexing his security muscles. I might have given you a direct quote if I weren't such a lady.

Once again, the choir members had to get off the bus. The rest of us did not.  The officers who came on board to check our passports were pleasant and had a sense of humour.  The procedure went without a hitch, was stress free, and even included laughter.

Within half an hour the choir was back with bits of paper stapled to their passports stating they could not return to Canada before Sunday.  I never did ask why; I was just thrilled and amazed we were in.  Later on, the irony hit.  First they couldn’t get in, and then they couldn’t get out! 

We could not drive to the hotel we were to stay in as the bus driver was already past the legal time he was to be working, so we drove to the nearest motel that could accommodate us and spent the night there.

The rest of the weekend proved that it had been worth the eight hour wait to get into the U.S.  We had a wonderful time.  I can’t wait for the Washington trip.


© Christine Terepora 2011


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Even Americans have trouble with these officials at the border. I got strip searched once!
Sometimes I go through one of them and see all the Internationals standing around waiting to be interviewed.
You know they are looking for the wrong people and I know they have to be tough but a choir?
YUP taking all that work away hahahaha SING!!!
This post should be on the front page. It should be mandatory reading. I can't believe they put you through that crap. Not letting you off the bus to pee is cruel and unusual punishment. Period. -R-
This is disheartening. I've heard similar horror stories about Canadian border officials. The only trouble I had crossing into British Columbia in 1974 was that I had to pour two fifths of Johnny Walker Black down a drain under the eyes of the guard. I had told him I'd rather he and his buddies keep the whiskey as I hated to see it go to waste. For all I know the drain led to a tank of some sort under the table, but otherwise the guards were polite.

Maybe if the choir had entertained them with song they'd have mellowed a tad. Lovely story, BTW. Your narrative skill is compelling.
Oh Miguela, I am so sorry. I can’t even imagine. I can only complain of a loss of exploring time in Chicago.
Well Linda, the young man had a job to do and he found us suspicious. He took it as far as he could, by the book.
Thank you Christine. I almost lived up to our (now mine) nickname!
Thank you Matt; I blush at your compliment. Geery won’t let me post until she has made sure my writing meets her expectations! I’m getting better, fewer red ink marks when she returns my stories.
This guard too, was polite. He even came on the bus to explain to us what he was doing. The only time panic ensued was when an Autistic teenager on the bus had a rather noisy meltdown when she realized she was not going to Chicago. I think every adult within reach of her tried to calm her down. She was MAD!
I did think of saying something about singing, but I don’t think it would have helped.
This comes as no surprise to me, those minor functunaries are in their glory when they get to exercise a little power over the common man. Reminds me of an old saying: "The bigger the dog, the less he has to bark". This little puppy felt the need to bark loudly indeed
I'm glad that the rest of the weekend made up for the horrible ordeal you had to go through. Washington next, you said? You cannot wait? :o)
Wow! What an eye-opening experience!

I kept thinking...wait...there are American choirs that make MONEY? And these Canadian choirs are coming across the border to take their jobs??? (Where does one sign up for these money-making choirs?)
I get strip searched just going into another State.
see also my post "globalization-- the big scam/sham/farce/lie" about a woman who was barred from the US for 5 years for the crime of coming to visit her boyfriend. what you experienced is *not* uncommon and is happening every day in visa stations around the country. and the petty, local tyrants are getting away with it, typically. its a descent into a state of no rule of law, because foreigners are involved.
I wish someone would compile a book of case studies of US immigration/visa horror stories. it would be a eye opener to say the least. I read about someone else on here who had problems with their naturalization because they went on a trip/cruise into Florida that merely sailed into international waters.
Torman, I just wish he hadn’t barked at our bus!!
Fusun, I’m a masochist! Besides on the trip to Washington... the director is going to have a letter from the places at which they will be singing.
Torrito, you have a wise friend; I like that saying very much.
Bellwether, we were just as boggled!
Ooooooo Larry, you must have a face that begs stripping??? Wait.... that sounds wrong.
vzn, I shall read your post. We were very lucky then, to be able to experience the “it’s who you know” law, weren’t we.
vzn, someone was just being plain silly! If you ever hear of such a book in the making, I'm in!
This is disheartening. Infuriating. Lamentable. But you ended up having a good time, and you've conveyed the story well. Hope the next time is better.
The whole world is just nuts. Had I been on that bus, I'd have been clawing the windows to get out.
Spike, it was, indeed, disheartening. Infuriating. Lamentable. In December when we go to Washington, I hope there will be nothing but smooth sailing.
I was absolutely amazed, Midwest, at the control and positive attitude of all on the bus. I think no one wanted to do anything that would jeopardize a sensitive situation.
What a trip! He must have this thing about Americans. We aren't liked in a lot of places. You got a great story out of it though!
Sscanner, he certainly is pro American. And that’s not a bad thing. He was just a bit.... zealous.
It took a trip to Oregon for me to realize that Americans are not the arrogant, rude boors that I had been led to believe. I also sent a fervent (and up ‘till now) private apology to the States for believing that America is all crime and dirty cities. I am embarrassed that, like Thomas, I had to find out for myself that it wasn’t true.
Reading the positive comments posted here makes me feel a lot better; we were not an isolated incident. And yes, you are correct. I got a great story out of it.
Nobody said travel was easy, especially into the US these days.
But that no toilet thing was taking things too far!
And the US has very good reason to be suspicious of people entering the country. I figure they felt it would be difficult to keep track of 52 people so they just had us stay on the bus. Three hours was a little long for us.
Yeah, good times. You should try flying from State A to State B, no problems right?


TSA peeps seem to think they're Gods.

"Don't stare at me, face to the wall!! THIS IS SERIOUS, I'M A TSA AGENT!!"

"And a week ago, you were serving hot dogs at DogWorld down the way."

By the way, never remind one of the Nazis where they worked before becoming a Naz...I mean...TSA Agent!! :D
He was, indeed very serious, but if he had made us do the “face the wall” thing, it would have made for a very smelly situation; there would have been many of us who soiled ourselves!!
I am a choir tour veteran, but I've only traveled in the contiguous U.S.
(Thanks for noticing the maple leaves---yes, I managed to get Canada Day into that celebratory pie. I adore my Canadian friends! Great eye, Christine!)
Thank you for remembering to include the Canadians. As I have “matured” and spend more time travelling in the States, I am becoming more and more enamoured with your country and its people.
On this trip, other than the incident at the border, we were made welcome everywhere we went.
As an American, I feel I should apologize for such rude behavior, but as Miguela Holt y Roybal said even we Americans have troubles with officials at borders, airports and anywhere else a person can put on a uniform and use a badge to push others around.

I am not saying all who do, just some. I am glad you made it to where you wanted to go and did get to enjoy the rest of your weekend.

Homeland security run amok
hoping the young man just ran out of luck
harassing a choir
a bully, a brute
testing his testosterone levels
stealing jobs from American choirs
oh my
the ones that sing for free
not like the singers
who get paid on Glee
My frustration built
Your tale pulled me in
to the bus with you
and your entertaining friends
wish I could be there
when you make the trip to Washington
to give you all a smile and a wave
of Welcome
rated with love
Auntynae, no need to apologize but thank you. Rude people exist everywhere and the people that we encountered during our stay in Chicago more than made up for the experience at the border.
RomanticPoetess, I’ve never had a poem directed my way... I’m thrilled! Thank you. Now, ahem, ahem, back to calm.... I will wave and smile at all. I know I’ll get smiles back.
Power corrupts, but just before it does that it goes to small heads and swells them. Happens with small-minded officials in every country. Wait until you run into one of these guys is some banana republic such as the Dominican Republic which is run by the military!

I was travelling with a German friend and he was ordered to pay the exit tax at the airport in US dollars even though he was German, we had entered the DR on a flight directly from Europe and had declared our money to be Euros upon entry. I could understand why they asked me to pay in US dollars because of my citizenship - but him? I’ll never figure that one out.
Perhaps the lower the level, the more one needs to prove oneself, and as you, your friend and many of us have learned, there`s no rhyme or reason to the actions. Could be as simple as the person is having a bad day.