Why this wouldn’t happen to me

I had “that feeling” in the pit of my stomach this morning when I read this post.

How an Ontario man’s forgotten email password resulted in a $6,255 Quarantine Act fine at the U.S. border

I’ve only been turned back once at the border. I was on the Tunnel Bus going to Detroit to see a Red Wings game. When you go through the tunnel and come up on the American side, you de-bus and immediately go through the U.S. Border Security. There was one person on the bus that wasn’t allowed into the United States so we all had to get back on the bus and head back to Canada. He left the bus and the rest of us returned and all cleared security without problem. I’m the type of person that likes to get to sporting events early to look around so we didn’t miss the game.

I felt so sorry for the gentleman in the article. I know that there is an option to get documents like this and boarding passes for airplanes electronically on your phone but I never do that when flying or crossing a border. In the beginning, it was probably out of fear that I might get an agent that wasn’t computer savvy but later on, it just became one of comfort. I will always print out documents like conference registration or boarding passes and have them folded and tucked inside my passport. I know that I’ll have to show my passport anyway so it just seems natural to have them all together.

It’s not that I don’t trust technology; I like to think I’m more than a little bit geeky but there’s something comforting about having that piece of paper handy. All of these things are going to be requested and inspected. I’m also a little cheap; when you cross the Ambassador Bridge, there comes a time when a warning comes on the phone that I’m now in a foreign country and extra roaming charges apply.

Now, my phone is indeed my backup to the paper. But, I don’t leave any document in my email; I download it as a PDF file and have it stored in the Downloads Folder on the phone. So, if I ever had to produce it, I don’t need an internet connection to access it. I wonder just a bit; I don’t log out of my email on my phone. The application is constantly running and I’m protected by the code that gets me into my phone. If that’s hacked, they can have my email and Words with Friends application. I just hope that it’s a literate hacker.

Honesty is the best policy when crossing at the border. Going into the United States, I’ll declare everything. Usually it’s ketchup potato chips, Aero and Coffee Crisp chocolate bars for friends who can’t get them otherwise. I’m open and honest and it’s never been an issue except for one border agent who wanted to know what ketchup potato chips taste like and why my friends would want them. Going into Canada is generally a little more difficult, especially being a border city, because I typically don’t bring back a lot compared to many people who do cross-border shopping. I get the “are you sure you’re not bringing back anyway” look and question a lot.

All those years of watching Border Security have paid off. Be polite and the CSBA agent will be polite back at you.

In this day and age, I think many of us know that email providers like Google do have protection for the security of our phones. A bunch of mistakes and you do get a digital time out. I’m surprised that the agent wasn’t a little more accommodating to this gentleman and allow him to log in with a desktop computer. But, we’re all living in a new world, post COVID.

The story, sad as it was, showed that things can go wrong. I hope that the gentleman is able to work his way around the situation and payment of the fine.

I’m even more comfortable with my traditional paper approach.

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