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The Time I Got Deported

This story is a bit of a mess. A direct result of it being my actual life.

I was arguing with the mean lady holding the gun. "I'm not being sarcastic. It's just very difficult to sound sincere when apologising for the mistakes made by the person I'm apologising to". She looked at me with a level of disgust reserved only for people in my own predicament. Due to a catalogue of errors made by Canadian Immigration, I was being denied entry back into the country in which I was already a resident. This was all taking place on the Rainbow International Bridge - the US / Canada border at Niagara Falls. The mean lady holding the gun was a border official sitting behind the counter at which I was impatiently standing. I was an underweight, curly haired goon in a Richard Pryor tee. She was a short pale Canadian in tactical gear. Her tightly pulled black ponytail revealed a surprising lack of horns. Which presumably meant that she was not the devil but some sort of evil witch. Let's call her Diane - Apologies to my dear old Nana but such coincidences are completely beyond my control. Clearly her remit fell short of helping vagrants. Personally I felt it unfair having an immigration official who gets off on the immolation of hopes and dreams. But like her cauldron on Halloween, set fire and dance around them she did. Diane the Witch was talking at me "There is no record of you entering Canada 5 days ago. This means that you have been an illegal alien since, which is an automatic deportation." There was an honest reason for this. Five days earlier at another border, I was shitfaced. The border people had grown so infuriated over the language (drink) barrier that their collective sense of duty ran out and looked the other way. Here's what happened: Hedging my bets, I was applying for two Visas while living in Toronto. One was for a renewal of my two year working holiday Visa. The other was a permanent residency application. As part of the latter I was required to have my biometrics taken. This, as I found out, meant having my fingerprint scanned. For reasons known only to flappy headed bureaucrats, this had to be recorded outside Canadian soil. So one Tuesday morning I took the 3 hour Greyhound bus to Buffalo, NY. The biometrics appointment took all of 7 minutes. The coach home was not for another 11 hours so I decided to go for breakfast and see a movie. Partly to avoid going to the pub so early but mostly because they were still closed. The Breakfast was incredible. The movie was Midsommar. If you haven't seen it, watching that movie during the day, in a completely empty cinema except for the elderly women sitting in the seat directly behind you is less than ideal. Midsommar is a horror movie where old people play a disturbing role in a cult and all the scary shit happens in broad daylight. So this old bitch choosing to sit in the seat right behind me will forever haunt me. I would have moved but I have this silly rule where I refuse to be bullied by women over 70. When the end credits rolled and we both stood and I turned to face this menace. We stared at each other. And I took solace in the fact she was as visibly disturbed as I was. We then wordlessly exchanged 'fucking hells' and left through separate exits. It was now 1pm and I had 7 hours of drink therapy ahead of me. Time to head to the nearest dive bar and forget my morning. Buffalo as it turns out has no dive bars open at 1pm, only well lit breweries. I spread my drinking across three brewers in a failed attempt to mask the heathenish pilgrimage I was on. Fuck knows what Buffalo breweries have against serving beer in a pint glass but much to the staffs amusement I would repeatedly send the borrower beers back for an adult size. Although US pints are only 4/5 of a real pint by the time I had stumbled back onto the greyhound, I was pissed by anyone's metric. The Semantics: My return to Canada would be a perilous one. My 2 year Canadian work permit was stapled to my old passport. I had since ordered a new one with a longer expiry date as per permanent residency application requirements. Unfortunately this annuls the work permit with the old passport number on it. And UK nationals only get approved for a second work permit in extreme circumstances. In those moose fuckers defence, I knew all of this before I decided to get more drunk than morally tenable. Which upon reflection, feels like some sort of error. In my defence, I was expecting a higher level of expertise from the immigration officials than I, a dangerously intoxicated foreigner, knew myself. I had expected the immigration officers to be lawyers with degrees and not cops with guns. All I remember happening at the border is that a group of gun ladies and one gun boy getting increasingly irate with my Two Passports, Zero Fucks attitude to my own destiny. Even the Chinese group with no Visas or English were less time consuming than me. An hour and a half later the officials bowed down to the pressure of the bus driver who was now the angriest man in two countries. Along with a coach load of fucked off passengers. Tired of corresponding with a dunce, the gun people decided to let me in without authorising it - dooming me. A sudden, portending change in demeanour would have tipped off anyone seeing single. Corruption aside, I must be the only person snuck across a border at the behest of the people paid to stop it. In what was likely not an astonishing coincidence, my working holiday Visa was approved two days later. All muggings here needed to do was activate it at my local international border - The Rainbow Bridge. I thought the gun people at the Buffalo border must have reset my account in order to allow me back in, what a lovely bunch of gun people. Back to the bridge and my nemesis Diane and I were locking horns (turns out she did have some). "Your Visa was approved in error, what's not to understand?" I looked at her as if she had just regurgitated a British bulldog and slapped it off the counter with a hockey stick. "What do you plan to do about this?" I asked. "Well, as you have been working in this country illegally for five days Sir, we plan to deport you." She cackled gleefully. Swallowing my laugh of disbelief I thought hard and replied as pathetically as possible "My puppy would starve and my flatmates would feel confused." So in a move that was proclaimed as deeply charitable, my work permit was literally tore up in front of my face. And I was issued a 30 day deportation notice instead. Low on funds I asked "When I show up at the airport in 30 days with no flight home and no visa. Will you "deport" (she did not appreciate the air quotes) me back to England for free?" Diane the Witch was unimpressed by my accidentally genuine inquiry. "You will be "deported" in handcuffs and without luggage. You will then be charged and added to a multinational blacklist." This last part scared me. So true enough, 43 days later I got on a plane to Paris.

It had only been 6 months since I had been interrogated at Charles de Gaulle for having more passports than Visas and I wasn't looking forward to flying back. What happened was I woke up the morning after England's world cup quarter final win vs Columbia with a headache and a one way flight to London. I take full credit for all of the stupid shit I pull here except for this. This was the brain miscarriage of my housemate - Chris made me do it. We flew in the morning of the semi. We then watched England very credibly lose the semi and couldn't afford a flight back as the summer holidays had started. It was at this point my boss phoned me and I had to explain that I flew 8 hours to England to watch a match happening in Russia. Also that I couldn't afford another flight. "Are you coming back?" he asked. "Of course! I would never do that to my dog."

Eventually we found our way back via the Megabus to Paris. France had just won the world cup and neither of us was particularly happy for them. We queued up to see inside Notre Dame. Chris in an uncharacteristically presentable white polo shirt. I was noticeably out of place in my 2001 Arsenal top. The security guard said "No football shirts. Respect!.. please." I then showed him the (France legend) 'Wiltord 11' I had printed on the back and he sighed, shook my hand and waved me through.

The reason I was flying back to Paris 6 months later was that flying a dog into the UK is complicated and expensive. France, as it turns out, could not give two shits. The dog in question was Joe Bangles. Named after my mum's dog who was born on the same day - Mr Bojangles. Joe Bangles was a cockapoo that had spent the last 2 years treated like my only child. I told my cousin - his previous owner - that I was going to take Joe Bangles back to London with me. "No" she said. "No problem" I lied. My cousin worked with the police representing the criminally insane. She abused this irony by sending a police colleague of hers to detain Joe Bangles and I at Toronto airport. I later found out that this bent bastard was not on duty despite being in uniform. He gave me an ultimatum "Give me the dog and get on your flight or I'll arrest you and still take the dog and you can settle this in court... But you would need a valid Visa for that." What followed was my entire life's emotions crammed into one 5 minute goodbye. Differently problematic, was my deportation notice period. Following the lost battle with Diane the Witch, I had the longest 30 days of my life ahead of me. All 43 of them. I could only afford to pay to ship my possessions back by selling them in the first place. I had to tell my boss that my work permit had been revoked. Welch on my tenancy agreement. Acquire a dog passport. And most time consuming of all, smoke half an ounce of cannabis. Weed is legal in Canada so the day before the Rainbow Bridge I wandered down to a giant flagship dispensary in downtown Toronto. It would be the first and last time I were buy more than a gram. I asked the jazz cabbage sommelier in my most Watford of accents "Give me half an ounce of whatever Snoop Doggs 'aving." He then laughed in my face for about a minute and a half before going round back and handing me a sizeable medical pot. As a law abiding citizen I knew that it was illegal for me to sell or even give the weed away. I was legally obligated to smoke it. It would be the biggest challenge of my life but I felt up to the task, I wasn't going to let that witch win. It was just unfortunate that this burden fell on what needed to be the most productive month of my life. I needed to go from less than a gram a month to half a gram a day. I should have got fucking sponsored. This would have undoubtedly caused a panic attack had my mind been capable of such a complex function. I would eventually explain all this to the geezer checking my passport at Toronto airport and to his credit decided not to hear me. About two years later I would reapply for permanent residency back in Watford. This time I was required to take the CELPIP (The Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program). Despite my blatant tinder profile win of getting full marks on my listening. It was deemed I couldn't read or write English well enough to leave England. Which is as equally insulting to me as it is to anyone reading this.

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