Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
Ross Murray
is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at
Posted 08.17.06
Stanstead, Quebec


Future borders of my youth

"Grampa Ross, tell us what it was like crossing the border when you were young?"

That story again? Sure, kids. Gather round Grampa's bionic knee and I'll tell you all about it.

Back when I was a young man, people would cross the border from what was once called "Canada" to the United States, sometimes every day, for work, food, and what we used to call "gasoline."

That was before Emperor Rove's armies invaded to contain the "socialist disease" and changed Canada's status from "country" to "Wal-Mart Supply Outlet 4312."

Back in those days, you could walk across the border or drive, it was your choice, and you could do it any time, night or day. You didn't need to make an application ten days in advance. Why, here in New Rumsfeld, when it used to be called "Stanstead," there were places you could walk into the United States on an unguarded back road, you'd see a sign that says, "Please report to Customs," and you'd do it.

"Wo-o-o-w! That must have been so cool."

Oh it wasn't that exciting, just neighbourly-like. The same way if you had to drop something at a neighbour's house and they weren't home, you'd just open the unlocked door, walk in, and leave your item behind without stealing anything. Mind you, you can't do that anymore what with the hermetically sealed life pods and the anti-intrusion flamethrowers.

"What was it like crossing the border?"

Most of the time it was friendly. "Where are you going, what are you bringing across?" Sometimes if you knew the border guard, you'd have a little chat about the weather or the kids, maybe hold up traffic for a minute or two. You can't do that with a cyborg, that's for sure. It's hard to chat when a DNA sample is being extracted from you.

Why, I remember times when you'd cross the border and you wouldn't even have to roll down the window of your "automobile." The border guard would lean out the door of his office and he'd make this gesture with his hands: "Anything back?" And you'd shake your head, which would be interpreted as "Nope, just gassing up," and the Customs officer would nod, smile, and wave you on.

"Wo-w-w-w Didn't you ever get nervous?"

Well, sometimes you'd get butterflies in your stomach. But compared to a brain probe, that's nothing.

"But there were cavity searches back then, right Grampa?"

Oh heavens no. Those were reserved for criminals in those days. They didn't become routine until after the Pundit Wars.

"Is that when they built the force field?"

No, that came some time later. Just before the war began, they built a fence. Just a regular fence with razor wire on top to keep "us" from "them." But that proved ineffective once the radiation created the mutant deer-people who started leaping right over it.

That was when they decided to put up the electronic force field. Or maybe it was the moat and piranhas first and then the force field. It's hard to remember sometimes.

"Grampa, is it true that there used to be two sets of border guards?"

Two sets? Oh, I see what you mean. Yes, Canada had one and the U.S. had one and each one would check people coming into their own country. Around the time of the fence, Emperor Rove created a single border system because he felt that Canada wasn't serious enough about keeping track of the "unwanted." I mean, Canadian guards didn't even have weapons. Can you believe that?

"Really? Even we have weapons, Grampa."

I know, kids, but those were different times. People were mostly friendly and tolerant. Everyone didn't expect the worst of everyone else. There were no detainment camps, and we weren't fed a constant diet of fear, not like you young people.

"It's okay, Grampa. We don't mind. It's all we know."