Let me first start off by saying it’s not funny that I wasted a custom agent’s time for my thoughtlessness. They have way better things to do than search some idiot’s car and what-not. But other than that, man, this story is HILARIOUS.
If you don’t know already, I moved to Blaine, Washington. It’s RIGHT on the border. I can see the border if I walk 5 minutes up the road. With my background, and my tendency to get bored easily, I thought it would be fun and productive to volunteer at the Vancouver Aquarium. In Canada.
A few things to understand. I’ve met a few people who seriously just hop back and forth across the border like it’s no big deal. And just a few days ago, Chris and I did our first workout at Peace Arch State Park. It’s a beautiful park, but the neatest thing is you can cross the border without going through customs within the park. On the US side, there is a border patrol vehicle and agent watching the park. There are also signs at the edge telling you not to cross the measly ditch separating the two countries. But, as you meander through the park, you pass a small marker indicating one side of the park is Canada, and the other is the United States.
Needless to say, Chris and I did our first international ZooFit workout that day. It’s a fantastic park for ZooFit, complete with a playground if we want, a shelter if we need, and really nice park benches to use. And it’s nicely shaded. It’s quite lovely.
Last Line of Defense
So, I was beginning to get the feeling the border crossing is more of a formality, and not this super strict “last line of defense” attitude I hear about.
I was wrong.
Crossing the border is serious business. And if you are planning a trip to Canada, my best advice to you is this- clean your car.
Make sure you have EVERYTHING you don’t need for your visit out of the vehicle, and make sure that car is spotless.
Okay, maybe not spotless. But way less crap in it than I keep in my car.
So I head up to Vancouver two hours before the session begins. I did this mainly because I didn’t know if there would be a wait at the border, not because I thought I’d be held up at the border. I also assumed there would be a ton of traffic going through Vancouver at 5:00pm. Which there was, but that’s not what held me up.
No, what held me up was the customs agent looking in the back seat of my car, seeing the complete disarray, and sending me in to talk to another customs agent inside. After talking with him (I really need to get better at remembering names. I’ll call him George. I think it started with a G) for 5 or 10 minutes about what brought me up to Canada, he asked for my car key, and told me to wait.
I used the wait to practice my meditative breathing. Breathe. Relax. Energize. Allow. Stand Tall. Heroic heart. Eudaimon. Smile. I am a radiant exemplar.
George called me up and gave me back my phone. He told me to wait again, and left to search my car with his partner.
I laughed to myself feeling foolish. My disorganization got me pulled aside and had my car searched. Chris was going to have a field day. Maybe they’ll clean it up a little bit, I thought. I mean, they’re Canadians.
But then I saw the two agents come back from searching and my heart dropped. Oh, shit. I knew I was in deep trouble.
Endorphins are my Drug of Choice
Okay, for those who are new to my style of fitness, let me break it down. I’m all about making fitness fun, engaging, and impactful. That means I play games with cards, make my own workout equipment, and connect our fitness to conservation.
I make my own workout equipment. Usually from materials we can’t easily recycle. Old basketballs. Ripped jeans. Plastic bags.
That’s what the agents were holding. Just a couple of plastic bags. That happened to be filled with sand. And duct taped to hold together while you work out.
To be fair, when I created the sandbags, drugs were the absolute LAST thing on my mind. I’m about dopamine, not dope. And honestly, if I wasn’t being held up at a customs border, I don’t know if I would ever have put two and two together. But I was being held up, and two border agents were holding a couple of my sand bags.
I wanted to laugh, but these two were not remotely smiling.
“Miss, would you mind telling us what these are?”
“Yeah, so I create my own workout equipment, from materials like plastic bags and almond milk containers. Those are sand bags. I take plastic bags, fill them with sand from a beach or sand pit, and stuff them into jeans to create a workout sandbag.”
“Do you have any idea what it looks like to us?”
“Oh, yes, indeed, I have figured it out.”
George’s partner spoke up. “We normally would arrest you and then get this tested. Why do you have this in your car?”
“I do presentations and demonstrations at events all over- farmers markets, libraries, community centers. And I use the finished bags for my workouts at the park. I just didn’t think about them being there.”
More questions and then I was told to wait again. They needed to test the bags. Because the crazy fitness lady telling them it was just sand could be lying.
Lessons at Customs Building
I tried to download some reading material while I waited, but since I was in Canada, my phone wasn’t connecting (and I tend to forget to turn on my roaming). So I resorted to playing games on my phone. After another 10-15 minutes, George called me over.
“So, we tested the bags.” He stopped.
“It was just sand.”
Right, because I’m the crazy fitness lady who makes her own sandbags.
“Sir, you have no idea how sorry I am for this situation. I wasn’t thinking, and I didn’t mean to laugh. Well, I mean, I hope later today you can laugh your ass off at the crazy stupid American.”
“Oh, I will,” he deadpanned. “Next time, miss…”
“Clean your car.”