Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Can I just say one thing about Canadian customs?

My company travels to meet our Canadian client about four times a month. We do a lot of work for this client. Great work. Great work that generates staggering amounts of consumer spending. Canadian consumer spending. In Canada.

Now I'm sure that as a general rule it's important to make sure people aren't crossing into your country to write bad advertising about you. And I'm sure the Canadian customs agents wage monumental front-lines battles every day to prevent U.S. agencies from crossing the border and polluting the Canadian advertising landscape with slogans like We put a big can of Can in Canada!

But a couple months ago a Canadian customs agent wouldn't let one of my colleagues into the country on a business trip because she didn't have her college diploma with her. I am not making this up. She had her passport, a copy of our contract with the client and a letter of authorization from our company president. But as it was explained to my colleague, Canada is in a state of orange-level alert against a looming threat of improperly credentialed business travelers. So my colleague was flat-out refused entry into the country, where she might help stimulate the Canadian economy without knowing all her predicate verb conjugations.

This is my first visit here since she was refused entry. And I'm traipsing through three Canadian cities in three days with my goddamn college diploma in my suitcase. I know it's not a huge imposition to be carrying around a diploma. And nobody demanded to see it—or cast doubt on my professional abilities in any way—when I got off the plane this morning. But the fact that I have to have it with me just in case is more ridiculous than someone as retarded as Glenn Beck getting his own TV show.

And I know other people have far worse horror stories about crossing international borders. And I'm sure many of those stories involve U.S. border agents. Or those volunteer militia dorks who stand guard at the U.S.-Mexico border with their self-righteousness and their Second Amendments and their booshy moostaches. But none of this makes the college-diploma thing any less silly.

But! If you ever make it through customs and find yourself in downtown Kingston, Ontario, grab your passport and your diploma and make sure you have dinner at Chez Piggy ... preferably on the patio. The food is delicious, the ambiance is charming, the prices are reasonable, and the parking is free and plentiful. And the sign is just adorable:

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