Half empty or half full?

I had the worst border crossing ever. Usually the van does get searched at the border, and I can understand that I look like one of them damn pot smokin hippies, living in a van and all. The Canadian searchers put things back exactly the way they find them, and only search it once a year. The US searchers generally trash things a little bit, but it’s a simple matter of putting things back where they go and re-tuning the dulcimer. Not this time.

As I pulled up to the window and rolled my window down the automatic window motor wimped out for the last time. I gave my passport and Bro’s rabies certificate to the guy, smiled and simpered, and banged on the motor in the door to get the window back up for the last time. The guy, of course, told me to pull up, take my purse, and step inside. Sure. I know the deal, I fill out a form, they run me, they look through the van, and I’m on my way. No big deal, usually.

I grab my purse, lock up the van so nobody bugs Bro, and go in to fill out the form. I fill it out and three Men With Guns come and tell me to step into the back room.

“What? Why?” I say.

“This is totally routine, ma’am. Just step back there.”

“This is NOT totally routine. I come through here twice a year and I’ve filled out that form a million times and I’ve never been told to step into a back room.” Times like this I think of how Derrick Jensen says that the Jews who participated in the Warsaw Ghetto uprising had the highest rate of survival in Nazi Germany and I consider just bolting. But of course that’s not a good idea. So I make a point of honoring the truth in the situation and do what the men with guns tell me.

They tell me to put my purse (I don’t really have one, but for these occasions I throw everything in a bag) on the counter and empty out my pockets. Then they have me hold my arms out and turn around. They grin and look at each other, then the one in front of me smiles and says he’s going to have to pat me down for weapons.

What. The. Fuck.

“This is totally routine, ma’am.”

“Don’t I have a right to be searched by a female officer?”

“If there were one on duty.”

Times like this make me glad that I’m a stripper and I know how to think fast and take control of a situation. “Okay,” I look the guy right in the eyes. “I’ll pull my shirt up for you, but I don’t want you touching my boobs.”

He’s okay with that, so I pull up my shirt and I’m kind of glad to make these robot men look at something real. Then they tell me to lift up my boobs so they can see there’s nothing underneath them. As if that were even possible. I mean, I can hold a dollar under them but it falls out when I move.

After they pat me down they sit me down in a chair and go through all my stuff with rubber gloves. They don’t seem to mind about my names. Then they ask me again if I have any weapons or drugs. No, I don’t I have a pocket knife. That’s all.

But they keep asking me. Finally they tell me it’s my last chance to come clean, and then they tell me my van and dog will be seized when they find drugs in my van and I will go to prison. Have I ever been to prison? They describe all the nastiness of prison and how my dog will probably be put to sleep. Then, just to clarify, they make sure I know that marijuana is a drug and that pot pipes are imprisonable offenses too.

Even though I know better part of me finds this really ironic and I keep acting more and more like a stereotypical pot head.

Finally they let me get Bro and then they take the van away to search it. They search and search and search and I wish I’d brought a book. Then I start to wonder if there’s been anyone in the van who might have dropped some weed out of their pockets, or if they’re planting something in the van so they can fuck with me more. Finally they hand me my keys and tell me I can go. I want to make them apologize, but I just leave, thankful not to be in handcuffs.

They totally trashed the van. The heater vents are fucked up, and they dumped dog food everywhere. On the bed, in the seats, in the bookshelves. But I’m still glad to be free, so I jump in the van and drive away as fast as I can.

Which isn’t that fast because it’s a hill and my transmission’s going out. I’m still okay on the flat, but I can’t quite make third on the hills.

I get into town at 9 in the morning and take myself straight to the police department. One needs a license to strip in this town.

“Hey,” I say, walking up to the frumpy old woman at the desk. “I need a license to get naked.”

“Excuse me?” She does that over the glasses glare.

“Um, a stripper license?”

“Oh, you mean a cabaret license,” she informs me.

“I’m sorry,” I tell her. “They just have different names everywhere I go. I mean, I’ve got an erotic entertainers license, an adult oriented business license, and an entertainers permit”

“Well.” She softens just a little. “I guess they do have different names in different places.”

Then a cop comes out of the back. “You look familiar,” he says, “have you been to jail recently?”

Do I have a fucking sign on me that says, “Attention, Police. Please Abuse Me”? Yeesh.

A nap and a truck stop shower later I’m at the club. It’s me, Hat-Ma, a girl that I danced with just a few days ago in Alaska, and a girl who dances with a friend of mine in her home city. It’s like I know the whole world.

They start talking about stripperweb, and stripper blogs. Someone mentions Susan and then another says, “yeah, and I always read Hobo Stripper!”

I’m famous! 😛


  1. wow. what the fuck? this is seriously becoming a police state. i cannot believe that happened to you! those pigfaced little complacent shits saw strength in you and just wanted to put their hands all over you and try to control you. you handled it well, but i’ve never known you to not be one step ahead of the game when people are trying to pull some shit over on you.

    stripping surely does teach some quick thinking. it’s like you sharpen your survival knives against the pole every time you spin.

  2. Seriously that is fucked up and that was not a routine manuver. What dickheads! I agree with the fact that this place is becoming a police state and that gives them the warrant to do whatever they please to whomever they can. You handled it well!

  3. Glad you’re okay, Tara. Goddamned dickhead cops are mental midgets and were obviously enjoying fucking with you. You handled it perfectly. Bastards.

  4. Such bullshit. I probably would have asked when the next female officer came on duty and asked to wait, just so they wouldn’t have the chance to touch me. Not that it would have worked. Well handled though!

  5. I’m really glad you’re alright. I have a hard time with the police, too, on the (thankfully) rare occasions that I have to deal with them. I KNOW I’m supposed to be obsequiously polite, but there’s also a thread in my head that says once you start letting people treat you like shit, you don’t know where it stops…

    Anyway, I’m really glad you and Bro are OK. Best wishes to your van.

  6. What a messed-up situation! You handled it well, however.

    Unrelated–I’ve been reading you for a long while, now, as I stumbled upon your blog and was captivated. Just wanted you to know that I always look forward to your posts and welcome your perspective on things. You really invite your readers into your life, and share intimately how you think and feel… your blog is very real, and I appreciate that candor and honesty.

    Safe travels! 😀

  7. It’s so easy to piss power obsessed, fear based, officious men. I’m glad you got thru it and kept your head clear enough to steer you to freedom…

  8. When I am going to travel, be it the US or in a 2nd world country, people I know always ask me if I am afraid of being robbed or hurt or worse. I always answer that the only real fear I have is of the police, whatever type they have where I am going. They are the only ones that you can’t avoid, and that have real power over you. The cops, and even the border guards in this country and Canada are mild. Even at their worst, they don’t hold a candle to other countries. The only problem with this country and Canada is that they can’t easily be bribed. Other places you could bring a live nuclear bomb across the border if you have enough money.

    The politicians and the media on all sides have been using “The Sky Is Falling!!” technique to put fear into people to allow these kinds of abuses. Victimless crimes have stronger penalties than murder in many cases. Maybe the cops thought you were bringing in some of that Viagra down here without a prescription.

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