Daily Archives: November 15, 2013

The Alien on Foreign Soil

“I hope that ice soon melts.”

Our noisy back seat passenger.
Our noisy back seat passenger.

“Me too.”

Our distracting back seat passenger was a cooler of ice water. We were on our way to Tubac and the ice rattled with every gear change, stop, start and turn.

“We’ll be very nearly in Mexico today.”

“It’s just another 20 miles,” I said after glancing at the road atlas.

“I hope we don’t get stopped by the Border Patrol. I don’t have my passport and green card,” said himself blithely.

“Shouldn’t you carry your green card with you all the time?” I said suddenly alarmed. The ice rattled in accordance.

“I don’t know.”

Foreign soil? I19 is measured in kilometers in the U.S.
Foreign soil? I19 is measured in kilometers in the U.S.

“I think you should.”

“You don’t carry your passport in England.”

“That’s not relevant. It’s a different country.”

“I know that,” said himself indignantly. I think the ramifications were beginning to sink in. “Anyway, you haven’t got your passport either.”

“I don’t need mine,” I said complacently. “It’s not against the law for an American not to have their passport with them on American soil. Not everyone even has a passport. I’ll just say I’m American and they won’t bother with me. You could try that.”

“You don’t sound American.”

“Doesn’t matter,” I said in my best clipped accent. “I’d be telling the truth.”

A few tense minutes passed as the desert landscape with mesquite trees crowding the road, distant mountains and Interstate signs marked in kilometers slipped by.

Uh-oh! If you've traveled in the Southwest, the distinctive Border Control canopy is immediately recognizable.
Uh-oh! If you’ve traveled in the Southwest, the distinctive Border Control canopy is immediately recognizable.

“Oh, bugger!” Jimmy exclaimed and he took a deep breath. The Border Patrol checkpoint loomed ahead on the other side of the highway. Every vehicle was being stopped coming north from Mexico. There was no way to avoid it on our way back.

“I’ve got my own truck keys. If they detain you and confiscate your keys I can still get home.”

“Oh, shut up.”

Fancy a crocheted typewriter?
Fancy a crocheted typewriter?

We managed to spend a pleasant afternoon in the artist colony of Tubac, strolling in and out of the shops, admiring the artists’ work, not spending $500 on a four by six inch painting and buying a pair of earrings instead, enjoying a Mexican lunch with Washington and Chilean wine and ignoring the elephant in the room.

Communing with some rusty old friends.
Communing with some rusty old friends.

During our alfresco lunch I commented, “I’ve got a beautiful view of the desert, mountains and blue sky from here. Shame about your view.” Jimmy was facing a rather large patron stuffing down a rather large lunch.

Quick as a flash he turned to face me and said, “Why? You’re just as beautiful as the desert, and sometimes just as prickly!”

Well! I wasn’t sure how to take that.

No escape.
No escape.

If you are wondering how we fared on the way home, we had no choice but to queue with all the other traffic for the Border Patrol checkpoint on the only road home from Tubac. I kept my mouth shut for once, knowing Jimmy might be feeling anxious. We rolled up to our turn for the interrogation and document check. Jimmy put his window down. The patrolman glanced at our American truck, with Arizona plates, then at the two harmless-looking old gits in the front seat and said, “You folks have a nice evening,” and waved us through.

Out of interest I Googled  Jimmy’s stance with regard to carrying his green card. The law states failing to have your green card with you is a misdemeanor and if you are found guilty you can be fined up to $100 and put in jail for up to 30 days.

Should the FBI, CIA, Border Patrol, Homeland Security, Arizona State Police, local sheriff or ICE want to come looking for Jimmy, his oversight had no criminal intent.

And he won’t do it again.

The reference to The Alien in the title is from my emigration to England many years ago. I was referred to as The Alien by the Foreign Office until I received permanent residency status. My then mother-in-law found this very funny so it became an enduring tag. I think to her I was quite alien.

Now Jimmy is The Alien.