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.

25 thoughts on “The Alien on Foreign Soil

  1. We visited Tubac last year and really enjoyed it. As I was reading I felt confident that you two would breeze through the checkpoint, having gone through many myself, but one never knows! 🙂

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      1. Wait, that puts a whole new spin on things. The US gov’t requires him to have his Green Card on him at all times?? That seems awfully…paranoid. Hmmph. Good thing I don’t have an accent. I never carry my passport when I’m there.

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        1. What nationality are you? Himself is the foreigner (and should carry his Green Card). I’m the American (and don’t carry my passport unless I’m leaving the country). We didn’t leave the U.S. We were about 20 miles from the Mexican border.

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          1. I’m Canadian. My primary home is in Toronto, and I have a home in Vegas. I wouldn’t have even thought to have documentation when you’re near the border. I only worry about it when crossing. Hmm. Good to know.

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            1. It may be that the Border Control treat Canadians with the same indifference as Americans. The time Jimmy admitted that he had a Green Card they insisted on seeing it. Other times they’ve asked no questions and we’ve been waived through.
              So. Toronto. Sorry for your troubles. Are you marching today?

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              1. Please. Don’t get me started on that gong show. No, as a matter of fact I’m just getting ready to run in my first 5k. It’s a charity fun run, not a serious race. The Ugly Sweater Run. Imagine a thousand runners in gaudy Xmas sweaters. 🙂

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  2. Love it! The picture of you with the relics is very nice, you look like your lovely mom in it. She was one of the 13 brothers and sisters who used to wear sunglasses all the time (and still Aunt Betts). Very cosmopolitan.

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  3. Great story! Not sure I would have been very calm or enjoyed myself on the outing.

    Your story reminded me of my mom. After 30+ years in Canada and several Canadian passports, she received a letter one day saying she hadn’t been properly processed through immigration in 1946. They called her a ‘displaced person’. It was eventually corrected, but we called her a DP for years. “Alien” sounds great too!!

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  4. Alien. I like it 🙂 I was cracked up by your reassuring comment about being able to get home using your own keys – and by his beautiful repsonse at the restaurant. You two must attract people like flies with humour like that! $100 for 30 days board and lodgings is a real bargain, even if the facilities are maybe a bit sparse 🙂

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