Xander used his iPad for hours on the way to Canada. We were pleased that he was occupied. His Great Wolf Lodge map had disappeared into particulate after a year of companionship. The day had arrived for our annual Thanksgiving vacation visit and he was pumped. The slides and water sprays awaited. The rest of us talked and listened to music. As we approached the border, I became aware of Xander playing with the speech app on his iPad at a volume slightly above the predominant noise level in the van.
“My name is Alexander. I live at 238 Kinsley Street. I need help. I need help. My phone number is…” I reached behind me and took the iPad away. The situation was potentially awkward.
The woman working at the border took her job seriously. She surveyed us through mirrored sunglasses and asked for identification. I presented passports and birth certificates. The chihuahua knew to remain silent, hiding under a winter coat in the back seat.
She asked us our destination. Easy. Then she asked us if we had weapons, pepper spray, or narcotics. I am a lousy liar and often a poor planner. My eyes darted to my pepper spray on the key chain, the jack-knife in the dash, and realized I had a left over prescription for Vicodin in the suitcase. I stammered that I had none of those things while avoiding eye contact with her intimidating glasses. She eyed me with suspicion. Xander began to yell with his artificial voice out of reach. She questioned my hesitation, but let us pass. I imagined her mentally categorizing us as “Crazy But Harmless.” I respected the accuracy of her judgment.