My daughter and I took a spontaneous trip to Toronto during our recent spring break from school.
As we left the USA to cross the bridge into Canada, there were many signs proclaiming the way to Canada and for the last exit before Canada. We showed our passports to the border person. He asked where we were going, why we were visiting Canada, how long we were staying, if we had accommodations, if we had any guns and a few other things. Nothing dramatic; no problems. We were on our way in just a couple of minutes.
After a few days of adventure in Toronto, we approached the border again — from the Canadian side this time. Our plan was to visit the Motown Museum in Detroit; we had reserved tickets purchased online for the 10:30 am tour. I had not really allowed enough time — it was raining, didn’t anticipate possible late-rush-hour traffic issues, didn’t really think through how long it would take to go across the US border — so I was feeling a time crunch.
We chose a line of cars to join. I think there were four lines. Each line was at least 10 cars long and all the lines were moving at a glacial pace. I worried that we had chosen the wrong line. We inched forward slowly, car by car. Minutes clicked by. Ten-o-clock came and went. I worked on how I would beg to be allowed to take a later tour at the museum.
There were border guards walking along the lines of cars. There was a sniffer dog and handler. There were cameras — everywhere — so many cameras.
Finally it is our turn to approach the booth.
I rolled down my window and attempted to clear my throat. (The morning “gags” as my co-workers will attest!)
The guy in the booth (first thing out of his mouth), “Did you just cough on me?”
I laughed and said no. “It is just the morning gags.”
He looked out our passports. “Ah. Milwaukee.” I nodded yes.
“Got a lot of good beer there?” I assured him there was no shortage.
Then he proceeded to ask if I knew that Wisconsin is the #1 drunk driving state in the country. Yep. I know. Yep. I’m not proud.
He asks about Sarah being born in Iowa. We assure him she is not really an Iowan. Blah, blah, blah.
In my mind, I’m wondering if this guy knows how many cars are waiting in these lines behind us. Does he shoot the breeze with everyone like this? I glance at the clock, mentally calculating how many minutes we have left until 10:30 am and how much time I think we need to drive to the museum.
I mention we have tickets to tour the Motown Museum, thinking he might get the hint.
He jumps on the new bandwagon.
Do I play any instruments? Yes, I admit.
“Which ones,” he asks? To save time, I say, “all of them.”
He gives me grief. I tell him I was a band director and it is mostly accurate to say I can play all the instruments (wishing I had just said “PIANO” and left it at that!).
He asks Sarah what she plays. Violin, she answers. He is impressed. He tells us he wanted to play cello. This brings on a new thought apparently —
“Say. Tell me honestly,” he says, “how hard would it be to learn to play the bugle?”
“Well,” I say, “There are no valves so once you get the hang of the lip thing you are all set. Why? Do you want to play Taps?”
Yes, in fact, that IS the reason. He is a vet, he tells us. There is a shortage of Taps players. I know this because my brother-in-law has played Taps at many veteran funerals.
“You really think I could learn?”
“Sure,” I say, though I’m basing this affirmation on no proof of his musical talents and mainly his gift for gab.
I kid you not. More questions about the bugle come next!
“Where would I find a bugle?”
“Um… eBay? Or a good music store?”
At this point, I risk a pointed look at the clock and then say, “Well, if that’s all you need we should be heading to the museum….”
He hands back our passports.
“Have a nice trip.”
We made it to the museum with zero minutes to spare. The tour started the moment we got past the ticket booth. The tour was FABULOUS, by the way.