America, F**K YEAH!

It’s easy to poke fun at America. When you’re the biggest and the best it’s kind of a given that you have a target on your back. Most Americans I know acknowledge that is part and parcel of being American. I know a thing or two about being the biggest and the best. I’m from Canada, the large country depicted below:

Canada, according to Kirsten Hallett, whoever that is

Canada, according to Kirsten Hallett, whoever that is

Not only am I from Canada, I’m from Ontario, the America of Canada (The good parts of America. The rest of America is covered by Alberta). As you can see above, Ontario is the centre of the whole freaking universe. Ontario is to Canada as America is to the world. We’re the economic powerhouse, simply the best. And not only am I from Ontario, I’m from Ontario’s largest city, Toronto. Here is the country according to a Torontonian:

That Kirsten Hallett chick clearly didn't know what she was doing

That Kirsten Hallett chick clearly didn’t know what she was doing/isn’t from Toronto

All this is meant to introduce the fact that it’s okay for me to make fun, because as a Torontonian, I feel America’s pain, and because I feel America’s pain it’s okay for me to have a bit of fun at her expense.

I would like to devote this post to something America is very good at: WAR! Specifically, the War on Terror* and the War on Drugs. That’s right. America is so good at war that, in addition to its actual military presence across the globe, it now fights concepts.Β Seriously, America. Never has a nation waged so many wars at once. You keep so many balls in the air where other nations would have seen them crashing down. Besides, if your balls came crashing down you’d just start the War on Balls.



I have personally been touched by both of these wars. Our border is really no longer undefended. America is quietly waging its war on Canadian terrorists and drug lords and the border is tightly guarded. For instance, a few years ago I was accompanying my terrorist of a grandmother down south to visit family. She no longer likes traveling alone. The problem is that although she has admitted to needing accompaniment, it is still offensive to offer too much help, and so, as her chaperone, you do end up feeling a little bit terrorized. She has been known to travel with three passports, all with different spellings of her name and different birth dates. She’s a border security nightmare! I would like to thank America for recognizing this and subjecting my grandmother to an extended security search that led to the rest of our conversation during the four hour trip consisting of her asking me “Why would they do that to me?” over and over, followed by “I don’t understand. I don’t understand.” My explanation about the War on Terror, extended security measures etc etc. fell on deaf ears. The young TSA agent had made her, an 80 year old woman, expose her bare midriff in public, and had then stuck her hand inside the band of her pants. I don’t blame my grandma for feeling violated. I wasn’t really sure who the terrorist was in this scenario, but I felt pretty terrorized by the end of our journey. Here is a graphical representation of the terror, as experienced by me:

Screen shot 2013-02-03 at 11.34.29 PM

America, I’m not sure you can declare victory in this battle, but you definitely succeeded in terrorizing a terrorist, so props, small victory for you!

I would also like to congratulate you for a small success in your War on Drugs. Last year I got all gussied up in my best ‘I’m going to fit in with the locals’ outfit (shown below) and headed off on a road trip with my new beau. We were going to Florida to pick up some parts for his business and to pop in and say hi to his grandparents while we were there.

My Everyday American Look

My Everyday American Look

This beau of mine is a man of few words, but he has an air about him. He exudes, as we say in Canada, ‘le badasserie’. He pissed off border security the second he opened his mouth. I’m not too sure if it was because we rolled up in his super badass Canadian Marijuana Mobile Ford F-150, or if it was because of his one word answers and the fact that he seemed reluctant to name his company or reveal where his grandparents live. Probably the latter, since the former is completely ridiculous.

Canada Truck

Attempting to cross the border in the Super Badass Canadian Marijuana Mobile

Completely ridiculous… yet it is how I was treated! We were asked to pull over and go inside so border security could do an extensive search of the truck (where, for the record, THERE WERE NO DRUGS!). To this day I will never know what happened to my boyfriend behind those closed doors, but I do know what happened to me. I was separated from my boyfriend and told not even to look at him, let alone try to talk to him. I was then taken to a holding cell where I was stripped down to my bare necessities, told to put my hands on the wall, head on the wall, and to spread my legs. They then pat me down and ran hands through crevices that no stranger should ever touch! First my grandma and then me! All this while ridiculing me on my choice of a boyfriend and ignoring any attempt at being conversational on my part. Why? Because, as they told him, in America he’d still be doing serious jail time. Why? Because when they ran his passport they found that he’d been charged with a minor drug offense at the age of 19, 10 years ago. Those charges were eventually dropped. Seriously, America. Seriously!? I have been to Europe and Asia, including the Middle East, and I think that was the biggest culture shock I have ever experienced. I have never broken a single law, so being treated like a criminal was quite an interesting experience. Oh wait, I accidentally stole an undershirt at the age of 6 because my mom forgot to take it off of me while trying on clothes at a store. Does that count? Would I still be doing serious jail time for that? Congratulations on keeping me from crossing into your country, American border guards. I am clearly a threat. The most skilled undershirt theif in all of Canada. I’m so skilled I’ll steal the undershirt right out from under your regular shirt without you knowing.

So, to sum up, the War on Terror and the War on Drugs claimed victories by:

1. Feeling up my grandma at the airport

2. Feeling me up in a holding cell at the Ambassador Bridge


Conclusion: America is impulsively handsy and needs to relax a bit. I invite America to visit its hippie cousin to the north. It could benefit from a relaxing ride in the Super Badass Canadian Marijuana Mobile, if such a car existed… which it does not. At least, not in my driveway.

*Please note that I was in Maine on Sept 11th, 2001, surrounded by peers with friends and relatives employed at the World Trade Center. I felt the effects of that day from within the country. I know people who were there. I truly do love NYC and am in no way intending to belittle the events of the day that brought the War on Terror to the forefront of the American political agenda and ingrained itself in the identity of many Americans. I just can’t believe that a TSA agent stuck her hand down my poor grandma’s pants… I guess it’s proof of random selection for these things though.

About Shan:Β 

Screen shot 2013-02-04 at 12.35.14 AM

Recently appointed Master Geographer and newly minted mom, Shan, a born and raised Torontonian, currently resides in small town Ontario because she met a charming country boy with dimples, a striking jaw line and hands that are as strong and firm as the mighty nation of America. It was pregnancy at first sight, immaculate conception, of course. She is the only one in town that does not drive a Ford F-150. Sometimes serious but more often hilarious, you can follow her shenanigans here:

48 thoughts on “America, F**K YEAH!

  1. Reblogged this on Shan's Shenanigans and commented:

    Dear peoples that read my blog, today I can be read over at Canadica. Please visit my words there and perhaps leave a comment so that I don’t feel so inferior. Hint: I already feel inferior because there is some serious talent going on over there and composing that piece was intimidating! Thanks Lovelies!

  2. Your poor Grandma! I don’t know how they go about these random choices. There are times you can cross the border with just a smile and a wave (although those are fewer these days) and other times if you aren’t a criminal, you sure feel like one when they are finished with you.
    Sadly, sometimes we are just subject to the whim of the officer on duty. Maybe the one who violated your Grandmother had a fight with his Mother-In-Law that morning and was lashing out. You never know. If there was only some way we could figure out which one in those little booths just got laid…you would sail right through. πŸ˜‰

    • Man… imagine if sex were written all over our faces afterwards? Think of all the teen pregnancy that would prevent! But yes, in all seriousness, I’m sure the personal lives of border guards come into play. They are only human after all…

  3. Nice piece! I live 2km away from the Peace Arch crossing in BC. I’ve travelled the world, including “dodgy” places like Indonesia, China and Lancashire. I’ve travelled through Heathrow at the height of the El Al troubles. I lived through the IRA bombings in the UK, with the attendant heightened security. Crossing the line into the US is still the most intimidating though (even with NEXUS). My then-4 year old son was threatened by a gun-toting guard for “crossing the yellow line” in the office while we had to fill out 5 visa waiver forms (at the time we were still on UK passports). I was threatened with a gun for offering to open a cardboard box (being a polite new Canadian) the officer wanted to look in. This with my family and three toddlers with me. True – it’d be hard to say what a real terrorist looks like, but a polite “please leave that – we’ll open it” would have been just effective, and would have left a much better taste in the mouth! There was a poster on the wall in the office where my young son was threatened. It said (to the officers themselves) “Remember – you’re the first impression visitors get of America” or something similar. Too right… too right…

    • That is pretty horrendous! I can’t believe they would threaten a little one like that! Well, I can… but still. The world has really changed since my childhood… speaking of which, your snowshoeing post made me quite jealous! I’ve never been snowshoeing, but I’m simply jealous of the snow! I’d love to for a hike like that. When I was growing up we had so much snow that I could tunnel in my front lawn. My kids will likely never have that experience.

      • Well… you know where to find it, if you feel the need for snow! πŸ™‚
        The Super Badass Canadian Marijuana Mobile wouldn’t look much out of place over this side, either!

  4. This was hilarious Shan. I live in Gatineau but I work in Ottawa. Will probably end up moving to Ontario after my daughter finishes high school because I get creamed when it’s time to do my taxes. πŸ˜›

  5. shans, this piece is feckin’ awesome. i’ll promote it on sweetmo today. on this pt, i just couldn’t agree more. common sense needs to be applied at our feckin’ borders and its just not. instead what we have is power hungry, arrogant, showboating, tsa agents and it has become ridiculous. there has to be some middle ground. to throw my story in the ring, wifesy accidentally went through security with her scarf on once. they asked her to remove it, which she did. her friend asked what happened and wifesy said, ‘they think my scarf is a secret weapon.’ well, the term ‘secret weapon’ had everyone detained, while a pack of a-holes rummaged thru everything and reprimanded her. thankfully, one flirty guard said, “i think she meant what was inside the scarf was the secret weapon.” had he not said that, i would’ve lost my faith in man… great piece. much love, sweet mo.

    • Oh Gawd. I’m so paranoid I’m going to say something at the airport that will have me whisked away! My friend’s family once missed a trip back to Germany for Christmas because her father said the word ‘gun’. I don’t remember the context, but he didn’t have a gun and it ruined Christmas.

      Thanks for the compliment and the plug!

  6. Thanks for simplifying Canada for me – Toronto it is! Also, thanks for alerting me to the dangers of traveling with your grandma – I think it best to leave her at home from now on! Are you sure that she isn’t a terrorist – 3 passports sounds a bit sketchy.

    • Haha. Very sketch. It’s because she refuses to wear her glasses which she very much needs and can’t see which one is valid and which are expired. I think my father confiscated the expired ones finally. All her ID is issued with various spellings of her name for some reason. And the birthdate issue? She lied to us about her age her whole life! She is two years older than my grandpa and for some reason thought this was something to hide, so she faked her birth year for a long time. The year after he passed my father was helping her to fill out her new passport application and she tried to leave the birth year blank! He called her out on it and that’s how we discovered that we’d missed her 80th birthday… she was already 83!

      • That is so funny. My mom was born on a farm and her birth wasn’t registered right away so she had documents with several dates – but they were all within a few days, not years. Way to go grandma – keeping it young!

    • I think if that were the reason there would be many more holdups at the border and no Canadians would ever go to the States again πŸ˜‰ Plus, we’re just too nice. How could you not like us?

    • I shall resist the Monty Python “Romans” retort.
      Canada exists solely to remind you of how pleasant your society COULD be if you’d not got so uppity about paying appropriate taxes on your tea… πŸ™‚
      Oh – and we let your students borrow our flag for their rucksacks so they don’t get beaten up in Europe.

      • Haha. I have actually met people abroad sporting Canadian flags only to find out through conversation that they are actually American.

  7. While not an American, I am a New Yorker, and I’m profoundly offended that the tragedy of September 11, 2001 is used as the cover for the various travesties and atrocities perpetrated by the U.S. government over the past 12 years! I’d like to hear more about the marijuana mobile! xoxoM

  8. Great read. Thanks! Funny story but also disturbing. Sweetmo is right: Common sense needs to come into play in these situations. After all, when has an 80 year old grandmother ever terrorized anything except maybe a clerk that doesn’t want to take a coupon?

      • Oh my! I suppose if they weren’t diligent in being random innocent grandparents and children might be used in terrorist plots for sure… but still… It was just so horrible. She was so very offended and humiliated at having to lift her top up 😦

      • Indeed! Security requirements are no excuse for displaying bad manners and lack of respect.
        In contrast, I was pulled aside when landing at YVR, having just got back from a business trip to lots of “dodgy” Asian countries known for their negotiable affections.
        I was politely informed that they’d like to look on my laptop for child porn. (I must have fit the profile, I guess: 40+; travelling alone; computer; Thailand only one of several stops I’d made). Would that be OK? (Like “no” is an option… but the politeness was there). Would they find any? I was asked. No – go right ahead. Other pornography is legal in Canada, but child pornography is not – was I sure? I loved this “one last chance” thing. So wonderfully Canadian and polite. I was left alone while my laptop was taken behind closed doors and cyber-frisked. It was politely returned several minutes later and I was apologised to for the inconvenience, and wished a pleasant day. No harm no foul. A job needed doing and was reasonably undertaken. The fact it was in Canada I am sure was pure coincidence…

  9. Oh, all Americans have good stories about the walking dead who work at the TSA. Sorry about that. I guess Torontonians feel about Toronto and Canada pretty much the way New Yorkers feel about NYC and the rest of the US. We don’t really care about it. It’s flyover country, and probably necessary for various things but we don’t really know what those things are.

  10. Hilarious! Funniest post I’ve read in a long time. Great writing! (But also sad, because what it reports about the USA is too true.) We must be the most war-obsessed nation in the world. We’re ready to make war on anything. (Except when we really start killing people, we refuse to actually DECLARE war. That would be too honest.) I’m afraid someday there will be a great big War Tribunal, and America will be the defendant. Our only hope will be to plead insanity.

    • Yeah, it is sad. I almost ended up moving to the States twice during my childhood and am glad for many reasons that my family stayed in Canada. The States is a place I like to visit, but I am happy to call Canada home… although at the rate our government is going, we’ll be up there on the stand with you.

      Thanks so much for thinking I’m hilarious πŸ™‚

  11. Awesome post, Shan, even if you are from Toronto – and even if your infographic indicates that all of us from Vancouver Island are hippies. (It’s funny. Every second person who lives in Victoria moved here from Toronto….) I’ve taken to viewing any border crossing as a titillating adventure. Who knows how many items of clothing I’ll have to remove this time! Who knows how many places I’ll be touched! Who knows how much I’ll have to suck up to those power-crazed American border guards!

  12. Love this….I’m from Trawna (you do know the pronunciation!) and moved to NY in 1989. The border crossings are always amusing. One, last summer, after I was gone for a month — and the back of the SUV piled HIGH with stuff — the border guard asked “Ma’am, do you always travel with so much stuff?” Another time, very oddly, the officer addressed me by my first name and asked me if I was yet a U.S. citizen (no.) The border is a strange little world.

    • I do know the pronunciation… but I’m one of those recently European Canadians that has to annunciate. 1st generation. Apparently when I’m angry I sound Irish.

  13. Love, love, love your post. As someone living in Vancouver, I too have some crazy border stories to share, but none tops that of your grandmother. I’m very sorry to hear that happened. Am really looking forward to reading your blog, glad I stumbled upon it. Would love to read a post about Toronto vs. Vancouver stereotypes.. you’ve got a great sense of humor =)

    • Thank you thank you thank you! What a lovely compliment! You know, I have never been to Vancouver. Victoria, yes, Vancouver, no. I’ll have to look into that. I’m having a hard time finding time to write lately with a 5 month old at home. Even now he’s mad at me for stopping to look at the computer for a second! Hope you like my blog, and thanks again.

      • Well thanks for taking the time to respond! Good luck with the baby, and hopefully you get a chance to write sometime in the near future… look forward to reading it.

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