Monday, January 24, 2011
the bridge to summer is the ambassador bridge (and tales of a christmas crossing)
The golden gateway for several generations of snowbirds...
I rarely use the Ambassador Bridge whenever I visit the Detroit area these days. The view is nice, and it makes more sense to use it to head to certain destinations, but I like to line the pockets of the Detroit International Bridge Company as little as possible (it was nice to see, if only briefly, the president of DIBC taken away in handcuffs for contempt of court after the company refused to comply with a court order to demolish various structures that never should have been built). Currently cars coming from the south on the American side have to follow a long, looping detour that seems designed to tempt you into buying gas from the DIBC before returning to Canada than serve as a practical detour around construction and the remains of a bait shop on 23rd Street. My most recent trip across the bridge was over Christmas, when I packed several family members into the car for a daytrip to Ann Arbor.
The border guards at Detroit usually don't give us a hassle. While they ask the required questions and type in our passport info, they also chat like normal human beings: bad jokes, recommendations on what to buy at Zingerman's Bakehouse in Ann Arbor, etc. This approach could serve as an more effective tactic than straight-on interrogation, since the guard relaxes the occupants of the vehicle, which could lead to more information about one's activities slipping into the conversation. On this trip, we quickly realized we weren't dealing with a friendly guard the moment he opened his mouth. He didn't ask where we were going; he asked where we were trying to go.
When he asked the purpose of the trip, I said "shopping." Without a trace of warmth in his voice, he snarked down something along the lines of "what, no clothes or food in Canada?" My response was to outline some of the places we were going and things we intended to purchase that weren't available at home. I bit my tongue hard, trying to prevent myself from expressing a thought that was better left unsaid in his presence: "to help your tanking economy!" He then stalled for awhile in the booth, in a way that Mom felt was more an attempt to intimidate us than perform normal document processing. After we were free to go, we let loose the thoughts we couldn't say in front of the dude.
And where did we head as soon as we got through? From the bridge, it was a quick hop onto I-94, which led us to our big feast of the day: sandwiches at Zingerman's.
Ad source: The Globe and Mail, December 19, 1970 - JB