Thursday, November 9
our exciting trip to montreal started around 9:30 am. the duke came by and we loaded up the car and set out, with slight detours to dunkin’ donuts and our old practice space. and then about 4 hours of driving until we hit the Canadian border.
now, we have played many foreign countries at this point, and we have never had any problems getting in. we generally do not claim that we are there for “work” since getting an official work visa would require a great deal of money/paperwork. and the idea of spending over half of our show’s guarantee on a work visa seemed like a dumb idea, given the fact that we are not even obviously a “band” (i.e. not traveling in a van with a big drum kit and stuff).
so we get to the border crossing and tell the nice man we’re going to montreal for a video game conference and visiting our friend. totally not lies. he asked if we had any alcohol, firearms, tobacco, or “goods.” we said no. I guess that was partially not-the-truth, since we had some cds and t-shirts. but those were packed in the trunk and we were counting on the fact that these people really had better things to do. BUT, it was a really slow day at the border, so he asked us to pull in and go to the desk inside. so we do, and a nice lady asks us the same questions, as well as what states we’ve lived in, and what we do for a living, how much money we have with us, etc. then she asks us more about the conference and if we’re there for work. we said no. this was… maybe not entirely the truth, but i wouldn’t really call it a total lie, either. she looks at our passports and tells us to have a seat in this lobby area and that we’re not allowed to go to the bathroom. which kinda sucked because i already had to pee. then we sat there for a very long time. it was dull. they should have at least had a magazine or two kicking around.
meanwhile, these 2 dudes took the duke’s keys and went to search his car. they brought all our merch inside and started going thru it. and then kinda went away. we’d been sitting there for about an hour at that point. i went to ask for permission to use the bathroom. they said no, but they’d be getting to us shortly. 15 minutes later, they came out and asked for the duke, and led him through some door. we figured they were asking him questions and splitting us up to see if we’d have our stories straight. things went from being irritating to slightly worrisome. but i figured worst case scenario, they’d send us back to the u.s. with a stern talking-to. so, sean and i sat there for another 20 minutes, and then they came out and got him. then 15 minutes later, they came to get me. i asked if i could use the bathroom yet. and i could!
IN MY CELL.
i was pretty floored when the lady announced that i was being ARRESTED for making a "false declaration." i’ve never been arrested before! i just happened to make a “questionable” decision. not even a full-on bad decision. it was a victimless crime! we just wanted to make people dance! any money we took from the nice Canadian folks would have gone straight back into their economy, what with our hotel room and food and gas and shopping needs.
so anyway, yeah, we were arrested and now in our own little rooms. they frisked me (no strip-search fortunately) and took my purse but they let me keep my jacket. it was really cold in there. the cells were very clean and well-lit, with a wooden bench and a toilet and a security camera, and a door with a little window. it did not really feel all that jail-like. more like the waiting room from hell.
they asked if I wanted free legal counsel and I said yeah, so they brought me down the hall into another room, where I talked on the phone with a nice lady who told me I had the right to remain silent and that i really should remain silent until I can talk with a lawyer in boston so that we would not be banned from canada for life. she also told me they’d be releasing us. that made me feel a whole lot better. i peeked in the boys’ windows as i was walking back. they didn’t look so happy either.
then a little while later i got to talk with a lady from the US consulate. she told me the people were investigating and deciding whether or not to press charges. and that if we did get charged, we’d have to go to court tomorrow. and that the US consulate people were about to go away for a 4-day weekend, but she’d follow up with us on tuesday. she also said that it might seem like the people had “forgotten” us, but they were busy “investigating.” this made me think we’d be in there for a long long time. that did not make me feel better.
so I got back to the cell, and they told me to wave at the camera if I needed anything. for people holding us prisoner, they were pretty nice. they came around a few times to check on us. they turned up my heat and brought me some water. then later on I asked if we’d get food at any point, because I hadn’t eaten since breakfast and was getting really low blood sugar-y. (it was like 5:00 by this point). the dude said he’d see what he could do. then the lady came back like 15 minutes later and said we could order from a chicken restaurant but we’d have to pay for it ourselves. i did not want chicken. i did have some clif bars in my backpack in the car. i asked her if we could have those, and she went and got them for us. it was was the delicious clif bar ever. i entertained myself by reading the list of ingredients, and the story of the guy who invented the clif bars (clif was his dad, as it turns out, and he invented them because powerbars were gross).
and then I sat there for a very long time. i tried to sleep on the bench, but it was too hard and cold. i stood underneath the heating vent for a while. i lost track of time. I read the dum-dum wrapper that was in my pocket. i alternated between scared, sad, angry, and bored. i wondered what people who were in solitary confinement did. they must go crazy pretty quickly. i looked out my little window into the empty hallway. i was bummed about not having an exciting weekend in montreal.
basically, it was not very fun.
so after a few hours, the lady came and got me, and gave me my bag back, and gathered us all in the duke’s cell. he had a cool picnic-like table in his cell, totally not fair. the lady came back and said we were really lucky, because the club we were playing at did not require work visas. which meant they couldn’t really press charges and therefore we were not going to be banned from canada for life. there was also some other option they couldn’t pursue, which would have banned us from canada for two years. at this point, i was still really expecting them to send us back to the US, but they actually let us in! it is now on our records that we tried to sneak into canada, so I guess we are gonna get totally hassled anytime we try to go back.
and we had to pay import
taxes on our merch. so basically the three of us all lost 5 hours of
our lives (not to mention all the Canadian “manpower”)
all for a grand total of $55. now had we known we didn’t even need
a work visa, we never would have tried to sneak in our merch in the first
place. we just figured if we claimed we were going there for work but
didn’t have a visa they wouldn’t have let us in. I guess
maybe it is time for us to get somebody who knows what they’re
doing next time we set up any foreign shows.
so it was another 1 1/2 hours to Montreal. we navigated ourselves to st. laurent, where there was a videogame party that we were supposed to be playing. we had missed soundcheck of course, and were also totally late for our set, but they rescheduled some set so we got a chance to decompress a bit. We met up with the duke’s friend heather and some of his co-workers, and had some food, and just chilled out for a bit. everyone was very apologetic about our ordeal.
we played a short-ish set that night, and it was perhaps not our most energetic performance ever given the events of the day, but it felt pretty good to be playing together again. the three of us hadn’t had a show since this past april, and I had missed it.
after the show, we packed up and headed up the street to the hotel godin, which awesome and I would highly recommend it for any of you out there traveling to montreal. after a quick trip down the street to a convenience store (called couche-tard, ha ha ha ha) for a plethora of snacks and beverages, we crashed out in our room for the nite.