I've normally had really good experiences coming back to the United States from Canada.  However, one little mistake made my trip home, a little uncomfortable.

Last week, we enjoyed a couple days vacation in Canada.  We've crossed the border a lot in the past.  When I was in my 20's we used to go up there a lot.  All we needed to cross was a New York license.  But a lot has changed recently.

Now there are all kinds of different documents that you can use to get across.  You can use a passport, an enhanced license, a Nexus card, and for the kids it's a birth certificate.

This is where I made my mistake.

While coming home we pulled up to the booths and there were a couple options.  There was an "Autos" sign above most of the open booths.  Then there were ones with red X's marked on them.  Those ones were obviously closed.

Then there was one that was labelled "Enhanced licenses, Passport Cards, and Nexus."

Could I use that one?  I was with my wife and two kids.  We both have our enhanced licenses.  The kids just have their birth certificates.  Is that the one for us?

After talking it over with my wife we thought, "yeah, we should be good in that line."  So we drove up.  The conversation went like this...

Me:  Good afternoon sir.

Customs Officer:  Did you read the sign?  (VERY Angrily)

Me:  Yes.  I did.

Customs Officer:  And what did the sign say?

Me: Enhanced licenses, Passport Cards, and...

Customs Officer: (interrupting me)  And what are THOSE?

Me:  Enhanced licenses

Customs Officer:  What are the other things?

Me:  Birth certificates

Customs Officer:  And did the sign say "birth certificates"?!?

Me:  No.  I'm very sorry.  I didn't realize the children would...

Customs Officer:  Just give them to me. (still very angry)

Me:  Look, I didn't mean to do anything wrong I just...

Customs Officer:  You know, my boss would tell me to turn you around and make you wait in line.

Me:  Ok...I'd be happy to do that if that's what you want me to do.

Customs Officer:  It's fine.  Just give them to me.  Next time read.  You're like the 4th person who has come through and hasn't followed directions.

 

So this is why I'm writing this for you.  Don't make the same mistake I did.  If the sign says, "Enhanced licenses, Passport Cards, and Nexus" then those are the ONLY forms of identification that you should be using.

Not for nothing though...but shouldn't the sign say "Enhanced licenses, Passport Cards, and Nexus - ONLY"?  And if I'm the 4th person to make that mistake, then maybe it's the sign...and not the people who are misinterpreting the sign?

Regardless,  I appreciated the officer allowing me to make the mistake and still proceed through.  I understand how difficult he could have made my life.  The embarrassment worked fine.  That mistake will never be made again.