It only happened a few times, and only on the 89 driving out of the country, past the last vestiges of Vermont: Swanton, St. Alban’s and Highgate Springs, hitting the 47th parallel.
The bright lights reminded me of a concert or airport though it was just the Canadian border up ahead. Quietly the US border station on my left that I normally whizzed past had now set up a blockade. I had to go through their lines in order to get to the Canada border station and then into Canada.
“What’s this?” my passengers asked in unison.
“Passports,” I said, holding out my right hand.
“The US wants to see our passports before leaving the US?” one of them asked. “We already had to do that to get in…”
“They do it once in a while,” I said, turning down the stereo before breaking Gretchen the Pug to a stop. One other car stopped ahead of us.
Two guards stood outside the checkpoint. The US station was mainly set up to receive visitors coming from the Canadian side who travelled south. All of the doors and windows indicated this. But they also had this abandoned looking booth set off from the main building for purposes just like this evening.
I rolled down my window as the first guard pointed his flashlight into the front and then to the back seat.
“Hello,” I said evenly, handing him everyone’s passports.
The guards looked more like military than like cops, or maybe it was their bearing. Cops never made me feel like the guards did, erring on the side of guilt until I could prove myself innocent.
The second guard walked around the right and back of Gretchen the Pug, his flashlight also working the angles.
“Where do you all live?” Guard One asked us. We answered: Boston, Montreal, Montreal and …