Bonnaroo

Part 1: Border Fuzz
Matt ran his fingers through his hair, rocking back and forth and shaking his head slowly in his hands. I looked over. “Calm down man. Nothing’s going to happen. We’ll be fine.” “Look, there’s nothing you can say that will calm me down right now. I’ll be calm once we cross the border.” He continued his finger-combing. “How much do we have? No, wait, I don’t want to know.” All together we were carrying less than an ounce of weed in the minivan, keeping us on the safer side of the line between partially fucked and totally fucked. It was the 25 MDMA pills stashed away in one of Greg’s bags that put us over that line. I had also packed over a dozen Cake Pops: chocolate-coated balls of cake and cannabis icing (served on a stick for convenience), prepared by a friend back in Toronto. They were well-made; you could barely taste the weed. Perhaps I could offer some to the border guards if they hassled us. And the guards were going to hassle us a little. I was sure of that. There’s something about a borrowed minivan filled with bags and boxes driven by four people under 25 heading to a music festival that just screams “random search!” and if the border guards found anything, that was it — our trip would be over before it began. All we could do was play it cool and hope we didn’t look like a threat to national security. We probably should have crossed the border clean. You can get whatever drugs you need at Bonnaroo, but we still took the risk bringing some from home. Sure, our Canadian weed was better (and cheaper) than any of the American schwagg we’d find in Tennessee, but that alone wasn’t enough for me to justify smuggling it. I mostly did it because I was curious; I wanted to see if we could get away with it. So much of what we do is influenced and regulated by threat of punishment if we cross some arbitrary line, be it a law or a border. I wanted to know just how empty the threats really were. The only one of us with clean bags was Matt, aside from the under-the-counter Adderall he had on him. The border guards might wonder why he was carrying prescription amphetamines in a Tic-Tac container, but that was more inconvenience than illegal. Then again, it didn’t matter whose bags were carrying which drugs; we’d all be equally fucked if the guards found them. Traffic at the border was surprisingly light. We didn’t have to wait long before we pulled up to the booth and Greg handed the guard our documents. “Citizenship?” the booth guard asked as he flipped through the passports. “Canadian.” “What is this?” he held up my enhanced driver’s license, something I picked up specifically for this trip, since it was now impossible to enter the States with a regular

Ontario driver’s license. U.S. border guards are among the most serious people in the world. No matter what you tell them, you’ll always get the same look: like you’re lying and they know it. But he asked, so I told him. “It’s an enhanced driver’s license.” “No it’s not,” he snapped, an odd response considering the words “Enhanced Driver’s License” were printed in bold above my photograph. The booth guard waved the license in front of the RFID scanner anyway in an attempt to show me that he was right and I was a lying terrorist. The scanner beeped. “Oh, so it is,” he grumbled, apparently angry at the license for proving him wrong. He asked us the standard questions: Where were we going? Why? How long? Were we bringing any fruits or vegetables with us? Nothing out of the ordinary. He gave us the border guard look the whole time, but after a while, I thought we were free and clear. “Pull your car around to the side and park it,” he ordered, pointing around the corner to where other cars were being dissected trunk by trunk. “You’ll get your documents back inside.” Oh shit. Oh shit. Shit shit shit. They were going to search us. What would they find? Maybe nothing. Probably something. Border guards search vehicles for a living; they know their way around a minivan filled with contraband. No one said a word as we parked and headed inside. Straight faces all around. None of us looked interested in cracking. That might change once they led us into separate rooms and began the waterboarding, but in the meantime, we were stone-cold pros. Our interrogator was sitting behind a reception desk, next to the elevators and across from the vending machines. He didn’t seem like much, and it would be easy to confuse his workspace with a DMV waiting area. Still, he made us sit and wait for five minutes, just to let the tension mount. We could no longer see the minivan, so we had no way of knowing what they had found so far. I’m sure he knew that. When the reception guard eventually called us up, he started running through more of the standard questions. It didn’t make any sense — by now they probably had my stash, the Cake Pops and Greg’s pills. Heather hid her pot with care, but the other stuff gave them enough of a reason to tear everything apart anyway. They had us by the balls, yet this guard was still asking us about our borrowed minivan. “You mean you all have jobs but none of you owns a car?” What kind of CIA mind games was this guy playing? Perhaps our lack of car ownership flagged us as terrorists, because only terrorists share things like cars. Genuine freedomloving patriots own their own cars and they wouldn’t think about letting another person get behind the wheel unless a briefcase full of money was involved. That’s the American way, not our extremist car-sharing fundamentalism. I began to wonder what would happen to us once they found everything. They would probably lock us up for a long time. And getting caught smuggling drugs isn’t like being convicted of massive fraud or political corruption — we’d be sent to real prison, the type where inmates’ colons get rearranged in the shower on a daily basis. None of this would be happening if it wasn’t for September 11th. When those planes

hit those towers, America lost its collective shit. While the country was still in shock, Americans were told the best way to fight the terrorists was to shop, forfeit civil liberties, and bomb a couple of countries back to the stone age, so they did just that. Once it became apparent no one felt any safer, they turned to their borders. Slowly but surely, it became more and more difficult to enter the U.S. legally without a cavity search, and we were the result — nothing more than collateral damage in the war on terror. The interrogation ended without any mention of illicit substances or smuggling or terrorism and the guard gave us back our documents, but we still couldn’t leave. Something was up. As we sat back down to await our fate, an armoured truck pulled up just outside the entrance. Matt nearly shat himself. We were sure it was there to haul us off to Gitmo or whatever eastern European interment camp the Department of Homeland Security set up to extract information from Canadian drug smugglers. The guard at the entrance motioned towards us. This was it. We were about to spend the rest of our lives being tortured and gang-raped, all because we tried to bring drugs to a music festival. Counter-terrorism at work. “Ok, you can go,” he said. We filed out in stunned silence. They were letting us go? Aside from one or two bags on the top of the luggage pile in the back of the minivan, everything was as we left it. We all figured they were going to find something; it never occurred to us that they wouldn’t even bother searching. We made it through, drugs and all. We fooled the U.S. government. This must be what freedom feels like. Eat that, Uncle Sam! We didn’t say anything to each other for the first couple of blocks, but once we were absolutely sure we were clear of the border we erupted in a fit of laughing and cheering and clapping in celebration of our perfect crime. Even Matt was ecstatic. “I think you all owe me an apology,” he said. “You called me paranoid when I said I was worried about crossing the border. ‘It’ll be fine,’ you said, ‘we’ll get across no problem.’” “And that’s exactly what happened,” I said. Heather pulled out one of the three joints she was carrying in her pocket. Matt stared at her in disbelief. “You had those on you the whole time?” Heather shrugged. “Yeah. It’s not like I can get at the rest of the pot right now. I rolled these for the road.” “What the fuck? What if there had been dogs? Were you trying to get caught?” I started laughing again. “Who cares man, we made it! Woo! Next stop: Bonnaroooooooo!” Matt just shook his head.

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