Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Land Ho

I've landed.

That's what they call it when you come into your new country.

But before that moment of "landing" which is just a matter of going over the boarder with the correct paperwork, we had a mini adventure/getaway. You see, in order to get to the Canadian Immigration office in Buffalo by 8:00 am, we had to start out a little closer to the border, so we stayed overnight in Niagara on the Lake. We like to stay in old Inns and B&B's, or so we say, but really we only like the actual building. The whole B&B experience can be a little weird, at least according to our experiences.

You see, we are more often then not surprised by the lack of personality some innkeepers have. It's as if the whole owning a B&B thing was this great and often expensive idea but the whole being innkeepers thing wasn't given a lot of thought. It's as if after the doors opened for the first time it came as a complete surprise that they were now going to have deal with and relate (in a more intimate one-on-one way) with the public - you know, those people who pay to stay in the rooms.

My first clue that we had once again ran into the NotReallyThe InnkeeperType was when we arrived a little early and rang the bell (door is locked and set up with a security code system) we were greeted by a man who didn't look very happy to see us and so Dave asked if we were too early to check in and he said "Yes."

No, not "Come on in. It's just a little early - the room is being cleaned but you can leave your bags and have some coffee if you like," and then proceed to show us the building and talk about the restoration. Etc. He just said Yes. And then as if he realized how rude he sounded, he took our bags and told us where to go, as in where we could go to kill some time until check in time. We talked with him a little (mostly us, not so much him) and informed him of our early check out the next morning and asked if there was even the slightest possibility of getting coffee or making some, and he said "No. Coffee is ready at 8:00." But then promptly got to the business of running the credit card transaction through since we were leaving early. Anyway, the room was large and clean and great, so who's complaining? I'm just sayin. I was raised on The Bob Newhart Show.

We got to the immigration office (after much to do with finding parking due to a huge political event at the arena in Buffalo) a little after 7:00 am, and I with a full bladder proceeded to stand with Dave in a line behind 10 people who got there even earlier. Everyone knows that no matter what the posted hours at an immigration office are, you need to arrive when (or sometimes before) the doors to the building open. I asked the man at the desk where the bathroom was, and he said that there wasn't a bathroom. (I was in a GIANT building) So I asked "In this whole building?" And he laughed because his bladder wasn't full and said No, but you have to wait until you get upstairs. That was at least an hour later.

You weren't allowed cell phones or cameras or radios or laptops so I was ever grateful to be standing in line behind Mrs. B, an african-american woman sporting a lovely red caftan and a head full of stories. This was her second day waiting in this line and that announcement worried me a bit, so I had to ask her why. She said she didn't get to the office early and they simply ran out of time and she had to come back. She was looking to apply for dual Citizenship, because, she said her "husband was a unique individual."

She was married to a Canadian man and they lived in the US until he decided to leave her and go back to Canada, where he was now living with his girlfriend and where he refuses to divorce Mrs. B, and where he regularly hides when about to be served. She said he had some weird radar and seems every time they were just about to serve him, he'd leave the country. At that point she looked at me and said, pointing to Dave, "Put a chip in him."

Her husband's lawyer had said that it was "cheaper to keep her," so he was resisting divorce. He also had a girlfriend who wanted to be his wife and already having a wife is an excuse that can't be argued with. During this time, she too had another relationship and this man also wanted to marry her. He got tired of waiting, and he eventually died, so she had no reason to stay in the US. That's when she decided to apply for dual citizenship and move to Canada where she had half a chance of getting spousal benefits and/or a divorce.

Mrs. B was/is a not to be messed with, certainly not someone you should impersonate (as the husband's girlfriend did once to get a store credit card.) In this instance she warned her that she'd better stop doing that because when she got to Canada she was going to have her arrested and thrown in jail for identity theft. Her husband once made the mistake of taking a swing at her. She said she got into more trouble than he did for that one. "He hit me, but I hit him back harder and more than once." She reasoned that he looked worse than her because he had fair skin and bruises take a few days to show up on black skin. For that she was ordered to go to Anger Management classes. She had to take the course twice.

Oh, by the way, Mrs. B is 60 years old.

After being entertained by the deadpan yet colorful Mrs. B, I forgot all about my full bladder or being shuffled like cattle into the elevator or going through security checks or waiting in the room for three hours. Our case was simple. A man marries a woman from another country and after much paperwork is submitted, his country allows her to live with him . Her passport is stamped and her papers say permanent resident and permanent is a word I really like these days.

I really hope Mrs. B has a happy ending too. But then, I doubt she'll accept anything less.


  1. Are you sure you don't need to go back and stand behind more people for one more day?

    I kind of love her.

  2. I know I love her too. Don't worry, though, we seem to attract colorful people. There'll be more stories.


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