“My wife is American. I’m a green card holder.”
“Can I see it please?”
Jimmy turned his head to me with that startled expression I could read only too well. Oh, bugger. “Where is your green card?” I whispered, already knowing that it wasn’t on his person.
“It’s in my passport.”
“Which is . . . ?”
“Under the slide.” I blew out the breath I was holding and my shoulders slumped in dismay as he turned back to the Border Control patrolmen, who had already scanned the back seat and open boot compartment of our SUV for stowaways. “It’s in the trailer,” he told them.
“Can you pull over please and get it out for us?” The trailer on the road in front of us had stopped at the checkpoint for only a few seconds and then moved on. We were at least 10 miles from the Mexican border. Why was there Border Control here? As we pulled over I said, “Show them your Washington driver’s license. That should do for ID.” We were naïve about the policing of the Mexican border in Texas.
Jimmy stepped out reaching for his wallet as I leapt out of the other side of the car even though Border Control did not seem the least bit interested in me.
The dark complexioned patrolmen were dressed in plain green fatigues and I have a mental image of them clutching machine guns to their chests. Of course they weren’t. I just thought they should. I felt like I was in a movie.
Jimmy offered his driver’s license as he tried to explain how difficult it would be to get his passport and green card out of the trailer. “I’ll have to get the supports out of the locker and snap them into place in order to pull the slide out so I can go in the trailer and get under the dinette seat and get the file box out to find my passport.”
Well that wasn’t the response Jimmy had hoped for. The patrolmen were pleasant enough but they meant business. Dark hair, dark mustaches, dark glasses, their faces softened a little when they smiled but they weren’t prepared to be too friendly yet. The taller of the two of them, about my height, clutched Jimmy’s license possessively. The other one came up to my nose.
Why is it I find short men with olive skin tones and black mustaches so menacing? Was it because we’d had a run in with a restaurateur of similar stature and complexion in Toledo, Spain? (We were completely in the right and he was completely in the wrong for your information.)
“Can you use my driver’s license instead of my green card?” asked Jimmy expectantly.
“We can run an identity check with it. It could take a while.”
“Fifteen minutes, two hours . . . ?” and then he shrugged.
“I’ll get my passport.”
Being an American citizen with an American passport (somewhere in the depths of our stationery-cum-file-drawer locker) and standing on American soil I, perhaps foolishly, decided to bait the Border Patrolmen. Jimmy would have dug me in the ribs with his elbow at this point but he was busy trying to protect his own identity and grunting as he pulled out the slide (our bed-in-a-drawer that slides out the back of the trailer). “Don’t you want to see my passport?”
“You trust me then?”
“I don’t sound American.”
Jimmy had pulled the rear slide out and walked around to the door. The Border Patrolmen hustled after him and stood outside the door. They obviously didn’t trust him.
I kept Menendez and Martinez company while we waited for Jimmy who was crashing around in the trailer.
I was feeling distinctly left out of the process now, so called in to Jimmy “Can you bring my passport as well?” They could look at it whether they wanted to or not.
Once the green card was scrutinized and the American passport was ignored smiles broke out and we established that there would be more border Patrol checks starting with El Paso, then New Mexico and Arizona and on into California.
The passports now reside in the glove compartment much to Jimmy’s annoyance instead of well hidden and safe in the trailer. Don’t tell anyone you know where they are.
“You should have just told them we were both American citizens. They would have let us straight through.” But do you think he would do that? Of course not but then he would be the one to get into trouble wouldn’t he?