When I left College Station, Texas, the night of April 15, 1993, my original intent was to drive straight north to Canada to kill myself. I was too patriotic to do it in the United States. Let Canada deal with an unidentified dead body.
I had taken $5,000 in cash with me, though, and when I got to Canada, I still had $4,854 left. How could I kill myself while I still had $4,854. In cash. In my car. Let’s have a little fun first. So I drove Interstate 94 west from Fargo, North Dakota, looking for things to do, places to spend money.
Still had over $4,500 left when I got to Seattle, so I went to Vancouver, thinking that Canadians would love an American spending a few days and many thousands of American dollars. I was right. After spending just 60 hours in Vancouver, I was down to $3,500.
I’ll never forget the distinct difference between the two countries’ border patrols. Here’s the conversation going into Canada:
Canada Border Patrol: “How long are you planning on being in Canada?”
Texas Boy: “I don’t know. Probably a day or two.”
CBP, while looking at my Texas license plates; customized and lowered Saleen Mustang with blacked-out windows and Flowmaster exhaust making a louder-than-really-necessary rumbling sound: “Are you familiar with the work laws in Canada?”
CBP: “You need a permit to do any work. Are you going to be doing any work?”
CBP (still looking over my sleek Saleen Mustang): “Are you familiar with the gun laws in Canada?”
CBP: “You cannot bring any guns into Canada. Do you have any guns with you?”
CBP: “Are you familiar with the alcohol laws in Canada?”
CBP: “You cannot bring any alcohol into Canada. Do you have any alcohol with you?”
CBP: “Are you familiar with the tobacco laws in Canada?
CBP: “You cannot bring any tobacco into Canada. Do you have any tobacco with you?”
CBP, once again looking at my Texas license plates—probably thinking, “Texas license plates. Customized sports car. No guns. No alcohol. No tobacco. Yeah, right.”—and pointing: “Why don’t you pull into that empty spot right there?”
TB: (Does as requested.)
CBP, five of them, spent four hours going through my car unpacking everything. They searched under my car, over my car, around my car. They found my little TV made to look like a computer monitor.
CBP: “I thought you said you were not going to be doing any work. Why the computer monitor?”
TB: “It’s not a computer monitor. It’s a television.” I showed them how to work it.
CBP, after finding an unopened five-gallon can of peanut butter that I had just bought in Seattle: “What’s in the can?”
TB: “Peanut butter.”
CBP did not believe me. They proceeded to open the can and poke long sticks into the peanut butter. They were checking the length the sticks to see if their depth in the peanut butter matched the height of the can. They did. No false bottom hiding guns, alcohol, tobacco, or anything else. Just a five-gallon can of peanut butter.
CBP then invited me to repack my car, which I did. As soon as I was finished, one CBP said I could go and told me, “Welcome to Canada!”
They did not reimburse me for the five-gallon can of peanut butter. I threw it in their trash can. Why knew where those sticks had been before being poked into my peanut butter?
I spent 60 hours in Canada before reaching the border to return to the United States. Here’s dialogue with the United States Border Patrol:
USBP: “How long you been in Canada?”
TB: “2½ days.”
USBP, waving me through: “Welcome home!”
I drove to Seattle, Portland, Sacramento, Oakland, San Francisco, Modesto, Fresno, Bakersfield, Los Angeles, and San Diego, still trying to spend all my money and figuring that, as far as killing myself, it would be Tijuana or bust.
Well, it was bust. Still here. Na na na na na na.