Bordering Insanity

Sigh!

 

Where to begin? At the beginning I suppose. Remember when I got a new car ? and that we got the car in the states because we are moving there this summer? I drove it back into Canada soon after purchasing it, and breezed through the border on my way home.

 

Fast forward three weeks………..

 

I spent a wonderful weekend with the KoD (who has some new initials – more on those later) and left Monsey at 230pm on Sunday, in order to get back in time to put the kidlets into bed after they returned home from their other parent. I made excellent time on the roads. The roads were clear, I stopped once for gas, and reached the border by 7pm. There were a gazillion cars in front of me, it being a Sunday night, but that’s ok, I had plenty of time. (Car was at standstill so I texted my man)

 

QoH: Brder v busy
QoH: 4 booths open
QoH: 15 cars each
KoD: Is it moving?
QoH: V v slow
QoH: But I will b home in time
QoH: BH
KoD: Darn!!!!!
QoH: Its ok
QoH: Was smooth till now

QoH: Stll in line
KoD: How many cars in front of u now?
QoH: 9
QoH: 4
QoH: 2

 

I roll on up to the border patrol booth, and give the guy my passport. He asks me where I live, I tell him. Then he asks, oh-so-conversationally, “were you aware, madame, that a Canadian resident is not permitted to drive a vehicle with US plates?” Of course I was not freaking aware of that – if I was would I blatantly try to drive over the frigging US/Canada border?! What would that be, like, STUPID??!! He asks me to whom the car belongs, asks to see license and registration and all the supporting documents. Then the bastard, with a wink (a wink, little sod), sent me over to the adjoining building, telling me to park in section two, that an officer will escort me from the car.

 

You know, when they stop you at the US side, they remind you to remove all your money and stuff from the car, and they keep the keys so you can’t drive away, nor can anyone else drive it away. Those guys have guns. On the Canadian side of the border they don’t give no flying duck about the safety of your car or possessions.

 

So I am frantically texting my KoD in a total state of panic while waiting to speak to another officer.

 

QoH: [curseword]
QoH: Trouble
QoH: Not allowed to drive US plates

KoD: Should I call [ATTORNEY]?

 

Finally this female person comes to talk with me, and explains the law, that I am not allowed to drive this US plated vehicle in Canada. That I have to turn myself around, drive to the US, and leave the car there, if I want to get back into this country.

– But lady, I said, (using the term very loosely but trying at this point to still be polite), I have children waiting for me.

– Nope, sorry, that’s the law, I need to escort you off the premises immediately.

 

Then she has an idea, let’s scare this woman who is worried sick about her kids, let’s tell her that she shouldn’t have been allowed to enter the country last time with the car, and drive around for however long, and that she could be freaking arrested for that violation. Way to go, Ms BallsOSteel! I ask if there is someone higher up I can speak to. She goes to speak to her superintendent and says there is nothing he can do either. I text KoD, after having a brief conversation with him on the phone while she was talking to her superintendent.

 

QoH: I hv to come bck into the states
QoH: Anyway
KoD: Y?
KoD: Don’t lv yet.
QoH: Car cannot be in Canada
KoD: Wait. Let [attorney] speak to Superintendent.
KoD: Tell them u want ur lawyer to speak to them.
QoH: No dice
QoH: Tried
KoD: I want to speak to Superintendent.
KoD: Pls ask them for name and number.
KoD: Let me speak to [lawyer].
KoD: Tell them u want to confer w ur attorney.
QoH: Ok
KoD: Do not leave until [lawyer] speaks to Superintendent.

 

So the woman comes back and asks me to leave once more. I then tell her I want the name and number of her supervisor so my attorney can call. She says it won’t change anything, there is no point. I press her, she says she will go and ask Mr BossMan again.

KoD: Ask them to hold off til ur atty speaks to one in charge.
QoH: They will forcibly remove me
KoD: Will they let u wait?

 

Ms BallsOSteel comes back and graciously allows me to wait while we get my people in touch with the Superintendent.


QoH: Yes
KoD: Tell them u need time for ur atty to speak to Sup.
KoD: I will call [lawyer] now. Ok?
QoH: They also said I cd be prosecuted for driving car in mtl 4 3 weeks

KoD: They r letting u wait?


QoH: Yes

KoD: Gd.
QoH: I feel so stupid

QoH: I’m just freaking out
KoD: We had no way of knowing this so-called law!!!
QoH: I know
KoD: Keep calm.

 

At this point I am sat on the oh-so-uncomfy pukey orange chairs waiting to hear any news. I am trying hard not to cry, trying hard to think of ways around this, trying hard to be strong and not fall apart. KoD kept me so focused and grounded, bless him. He helped me be so strong.


QoH: I cd go to jail
QoH: They said so
KoD: We’ll get u out of this somehow.
QoH: Bc I hv already bn driving it in canada 4 3 weeks
KoD: There must be an exemption.
QoH: Or be prosecuted
KoD: How ere u supposed to kno this.
QoH: I dunno
QoH: I’m scared babe
KoD: And they let u in b4.
KoD: Why didn’t they tell u then?
QoH: They shd hv told me
QoH: They didnt
KoD: Yep.
QoH: I will end up in canada w/o vehicle until we move
KoD: Let’s not panic yet.
QoH: Hard
KoD: There must b a way around this?
QoH: *shrug*
QoH: Anything from [lawyer]?
KoD: They will call as soon as they know sth.
KoD: Makes no sense.
QoH: K
QoH: I’m glad I hv u n them
QoH: But I feel so alone here
KoD: I kno.
QoH: Its in the computer
KoD: Another possibility: I drive there and drive u in.
QoH: On phone w [lawyer]
KoD: If [lawyer] unsuccessful, I will drive up.

 

At this point another woman guard called me over to the phone, so I could speak to my legal representative, who explained to me, that while the superintendent sympathizes with our position, the law is the law is the law. He advised me to do as they said, to turn around, go into the states, get home somehow, and we will work on it from this end.


QoH: Nothing they can do
KoD: That’s what [lawyer] said?
QoH: Yes
KoD: Only thing I can think of is that u meet me in Plattsburgh I drive up now. And drive u in.
QoH: And how do u get back?
KoD: It doesn’t matter that u hv a US address?
QoH: I hv no [official] US status [yet] [not that they asked me for any paperwork attesting to it]
KoD: I lv my car in Plattsburgh overnight and someone drives me to it.
QoH: K
QoH: What if the car is flagged?
QoH: In the puter?
KoD: That’s what I’m worried about.
QoH: They r kicking me out

 

At this point I was being escorted out of the customs office by an armed official and walked to my car. I was given directions on how to get back to the US and waved on my merry little way.


KoD: Did [lawyer] have a suggestion?
KoD: Other option is u drive back and we work this out from here.
KoD: Ask them if I am allowed to drive car into Canada.
QoH: Yes
KoD: They said yes?
QoH: Yes

So I asked Ms BallsOSteel’s coworker whether if KoD drove me over the border the car would be impounded or would it be ok. She said that seeing as he is a US resident, he can drive a car with US plates in Canada without worrying. I wanted to make sure that he was allowed to drive MY car, so I was more specific. She said it wouldn’t be a problem, but warned me not to try a different border crossing, or once car is in Canada to drive it. Made me feel that if I did, I would be immediately arrested. I would be looking over my shoulder the whole time.

 

So, because my vehicle was refused entry, I had to give a special form to the US border guards, who of course had to have me enter their customs and immigration building to do their paperwork. Do you know what the main difference was? They were actually nice to me, polite, helpful, understanding. (but I am telling you they are hiring these guys straight out of Kindergarten. How can they be so young and allowed to own a firearm??)Their Canadian cohorts could learn a thing or two from them.

 

I finally cleared the US border, drove to the nearest rest stop, and called the KoD to discuss strategy for getting me home. He had been on phone with legal people too, and we were all brainstorming. At this point my anger and outrage at what happened started to give way to panic and tears and the shakes. The Canadian biatch had made me feel so guilty, so angry, so criminal. None of the legal people I have spoken to, even those in the immigration field, have ever heard of this law. EVER. And the defense that I had been allowed in 3 weeks prior? Well, oopsies, our bad, we don’t give a hoot coz we got you now. I wonder if they will even bother to check who allowed me across before.

 

We eventually decided, after much back and forth, that I would drive the 18 miles to Plattsburgh and the KoD would drive up, pick me up, and drive me across the border and home.

 

I asked KoD where I should go, and he told me to go to the Days Inn where he stayed the night after his car got totaled after the deer hit him . They had treated him so well, when the State Trooper dropped him off after rescuing him from the side of the highway. We decided that I would wait in the lobby of the Days Inn for KoD to get there (he still had a four hour drive ahead of him).

 

I got to the Days Inn, shaky and afraid and oh so lonely. Sarah was on reception, and very graciously allowed me to wait in the lobby. She even showed me where the coffee was, and offered to put the TV on for me. I just wanted to curl up into my shell, sleep, and wait for the KoD to show up. It was now close to 9:45pm. At 11, Sarah left and was replaced by Matt. He remembered my KoD from the deer episode. He kept me company, we chatted well into the dark night. Matt worked hard to keep my spirits up and helped me feel less alone.

 

It was awesome knowing that the KoD was on his way up to rescue me, totally being my knight in shining armour. The KoD has a new set of initials. KoD KiSA – King Of Diamonds, Knight in Shining Armour. He didn’t hesitate. His wife needed him, he was on his way. Dropped EVERYTHING!! I know that’s what spouses are supposed to do for each other, but I didn’t expect him to do that.

 

Around 2:45 Matt called out to the sleeping beauty in his reception area, does your Knight in Shining Armour drive a silver Pathfinder? I woke up to see my handsome Knight, and I threw myself into his arms. It felt as if nothing can touch me now, I am safe safe safe.

 

Within 30 minutes we had crossed the border with no issues whatsoever and were home at my apartment by 4 am. Once we had grabbed some sleep we needed to start figuring out exactly what we were going to do from here, what are our legal rights, are there exemptions to this rule, how do we apply for one, etc.

 

Upshot? No exemptions. My car is going back home to its birthplace to wait for me, and I am going to have to manage without wheels for the next few months, take cabs when I need to. (But you know what we found out also? If you are a Canadian resident and you rent a car in the states and want to drive it into Canada, you cannot do so. It is against the law even for a rental car.) I am sure people would say who is going to stop me here, now that I am over the border, but would you want to take that risk? The car could be impounded, and worse, I could get fined or face prosecution, and that could really screw up my immigration into the states.

 

This has been a huge learning experience for us, and ignorance of the law is apparently no defense. I wish we had known of this law earlier, we would have made different decisions. But it is what it is. I also learned that KoD would go to the ends of the earth and back for me – well I knew it in theory, but he proved it, big time. The silver lining? KoD and I got to spend more time together, and even tho this was an extremely tense and stressful situation we grew from it as a couple.

 

Its only Tuesday – when is the weekend here??

22 responses to “Bordering Insanity

  1. Unbelievable! I can’t imagine what a mess it would have been if you’d had kids in the car with you.

  2. Joie – OMG as awful as it was, that would definitely have been a zillion times worse. SHUDDER!!

  3. And I always thought Canada was such a sane place…

  4. lady lock and load

    OIY. You poor things. I feel so bad this happened to you. What an ordeal! I hope you have some neighbors to help do errands, here in monsey without a car it is impossible!!! Maybe you have grocery stores that do phone orders and deliveries? Hugs!

  5. Risa – for the most part it is, we just have some weird laws and some border guards who seem to be on an ego trip.

    Lady LnL – i can get stuff delivered, its not an issue. it just isnt going to be easy for me to pop down to Monsey and back now without a vehicle to drive. Just another thing to deal with…..no one ever promised me life would be easy, eh?

  6. Well that sucks.

    But I’m a little confused. Can’t you register the car in Québec and get your plates for the time being and then get NY ones when you move?

    People buy cars in the States and bring them to Canada all the time, as a matter of fact, it was problematic when our dollar was at parity last year. Yes, you’ll have to pay duty on it, but isn’t it worth it when you factor in the cost of cab fare and hassle?

    Just wondering.

    Cam

  7. OMG- had a headache from reading your stress! But what a brave strong lady you are and a real nice guy you have! xxx

  8. Taxes. Revenue.

    They don’t want Canadians to buy cars in the U.S., which enable the purchaser to avoid enormous taxes that would normally apply to a Canadian car purchase.

    This “tax evasion scheme” has rarely been a concern because of the tradionally strong US dollar — a Canadian wouldn’t really save much money by buying American, even if Canadian taxes were avoided.

    But now that the Canadian dollar is equal to the US dollar, authorities want to make sure people aren’t tempted to avoid the Canadian taxes and to buy American.

  9. I can understand why they do it, but it sure is a freaking pain in the neck.

    Perhaps, they should have a BIG sign before you try to cross that at least warns you. After all, it’s not like it’s a law you’d think about.

  10. You know, I don’t think it has to do with the car being bought in the states. The issue was having it registered in NY with NY plates. That would mean the insurance was in the US, not Canada.
    Shoulda gotten a temp plate and then registered in Canada. Which was what I thought you were doing when you were in the SAAQ when you first got the car.(Found out after this was not the case)

    *Disclaimer: I did not know of this law, otherwise, I would have absolutely told you.

  11. lady lock and load

    I told my husband about this, he said it would be good to get a good immigration lawyer to help you get a u.s. residency card (something immigrants get for working, it’s called H something) you will need it anyway. Then if you have your husband write a letter and notarize it you would be able to drive the car in canada. (He went on google to see what other people did, which I am sure you are doing as well!!) Keep us tuned on what happens next, hoping for only good news.

  12. Z! i know you would have told me. the issue was also that it is a new car, purchased in the states and i could possibly be importing it with intent to sell, as far as they are concerned, as well as the insurance aspect (which btw before we bought the car we made sure i would be covered to drive it in Canada)

    Lady LnL – all these applications take months, if not years, it is much simpler, car-wise, for me to suck it up and be vehicularly challenged for a few months. your husbands solution makes sense, but in all the research we did, a signed affidavit wouldn’t have helped, and i cannot be a US resident if I dont live there….

  13. lady lock and load

    GRRRR! This is ridiculous!

  14. Y not have KoD drive up the van and take a bus back home to Monsey? you won’t have to go across the border in the car, but at least you’ll have it in the city when you need it.

  15. lady lock and load

    But it is against the law for her to drive the car in Canada itself, not only across the border.

  16. Hadassah,

    For these few months, you may consider signing up with a car sharing group, like Zip Car or similar (Zip Car is in Vancouver and Toronto, but not in Montreal, but I’n sure there is an equivalent there). It’s cheaper and more convenient than renting a car.

    Some of the rental agencies like Hertz are also getting into the game, offering month-long leases that are much cheaper than if you rented by the day or even week.

    Here is a Globe and Mail article on the phenomenon:

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/LAC.20061228.RCARSHARE28/TPStory/?query=autoshare

  17. Cam – its a new car, the duty on it would be crippling. i already paid the taxes in the states, to do so again isnt worth it. had i known of this law i would have done things differently.

    Nadine – u r so sweet – thanks for stopping by!

    Ari – there is Communauto here in Quebec – i am looking into it. truth is we can manage without wheels. i am close to the shops and the schools. taking an occasional taxi wont cost more than i pay weekly for gas.

    Yoch – it would have been great to have a sign before the border, but how many of them would there have to be, i am sure there are many obscure rules that they only enforce at border crossings!

    Z! as Lady LnL said – its against the law for me to drive it here, even if I do not get caught. i will not break the law.

  18. Reading the article more closely, Communauto is in Montreal. These kinds of places are just a few dollars per hour and you don’t have to worry about insurance, maintenance or gas . . .

  19. Hope everything is working out. thanks for the company, it would have been a slow boring night. Good luck with border crossings in the future. if any trouble you can always come back to the Days Inn 🙂

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