Last Wednesday I took a spontaneous road trip to Montreal. I needed a break from New York City exhaustion. I love road trips; I haven’t taken one in a while. Traveling through bumblefuck clears my mind and eliminates stress. Plus, the destination was Montreal. Oui oui ????.
Usually my road trips are uneventful, but on this trip I had two run-ins with the authorities. Once in the US, the other in Canada. Yeah, I’m a thug, son ????! The outcomes of both situations were paradoxical of the stereotypes.
While driving north through New York State a state trooper pulled me over. He was parked on the opposite side of the highway as he clocked cars in the direction I was heading. I wasn’t paying attention because I was on cruise control while dancing in my seat to Drizzy. I spotted him when he was 30 feet away and I instinctively hit the brake pedal. When I passed him, he drove over the path through the median to tail me. I noticed the speed limit sign had changed to 50mph and it was the start of a road work area. 20 seconds later the police car’s lights and sirens went off. Once we were out of the work zone I pulled over to the shoulder. He parked behind my car. We were in an area surrounded by trees and mountains, but luckily it was still light out. Nervousness. Anxiety. I’m thinking, “Sadiq, relax. Remember: the police officer will treat you well if you can just act as white as possible.”
As he approached my car, I opened my window and put my hands on the steering wheel at 10 and 2. Minorities know the law. We’ve learned through videos showing the outcomes of those that don’t follow it. He asked me the routine questions: Do you know why I pulled you over? License? Is this a rental? Do you have any traffic violations on your license? Do you know the meaning of life?
I explained that I wasn’t trying to speed. I was driving on cruise through the boonies, in what I thought was a 65mph zone. He stated that he clocked me going 72mph while the limit was 55mph. Then the limit changed to a 50mph work zone. There wasn’t much of a verbal exchange. He took my paperwork and my license and went back to his car. I was pissed that I’d have to deal with a $300 ticket.
He checked my credentials on the computer in his car and came back within a few minutes. He handed me my paperwork and said, “Watch your speed. Drive safe.” WTF. I was expecting to write a scathing article about the militarized police state. Instead I was left wondering if my imitation of a white person worked. I took a moment to dry the pee off of my seat from my fear of the po-pos. Started my car. On to Montreal I headed.
A couple of hours later I reached the Canadian border. It was nighttime now. The entire area was illuminated by high pressure sodium lights. I stopped next to the boarder security booth. I expected the process to be simple since I’ve never had a problem getting into Canada. Nope, it was the complete opposite. First, I fumbled my passport when I tried to hand it to the officer. I might as well have said the word “bomb” out loud. The officer’s eyes dilated into suspicion mode. I could feel an inspection coming. The officer grilled me. I had nothing to hide, so I answered all his questions clearly.
He filled out a pink slip, handed me my passport and the slip, and directed me to the inspection area. When I parked two officers dressed in monty gear and riding horses asked me to get out of my car. They started to beat me with their monty sticks. Just kidding. Two officers dressed in standard navy police uniforms asked me to get out of my car. They had me wait behind a safe zone while they searched my car. They asked me a ton of questions that were a repeat of what the previous officer asked. They were also wondering why I owned several pairs of shoes. I answered that I’m an empowered woman.
Once they completed the inspection they had me go inside the immigration office. Two other officers were behind a long counter. They asked me to sit down. After a few minutes, the officer browsing his computer that sat atop the counter asked, “Are you a big film buff?” I replied, “Huh? Uh, not really. I grew up with Bollywood movies, and never got into American cinema.” He starts smiling, “I ask because…” He turns his monitor towards me. On the screen was a picture I posted on Facebook several weeks ago. It was a shot of a little baggie of weed I found tucked under the cushions of my couch. Some people find change, I found pot. He kept smiling, “Well it says LA Confidential on here, so I thought you’re a film buff.” I replied, “Nah, that’s the name of the strain.” He says, “You don’t have any on you right?” I reply, “Nope.” I’m thinking, uh, why would I bring weed with me when I can easily acquire some when I reach Montreal. He laughs, “Don’t worry, you’re in Canada.” I laugh uncomfortably. Then I wiped off the pee on my seat.
Both the officers chatted with me. They asked me about the type of comedy I do. I told them I do dark humor, like race, religion, politics, sexuality. The second officer responds, “the good kind of comedy.” I smiled. They asked why I chose Montreal. I sarcastically replied, “Well, my other option was Philadelphia.” They laughed, gave me my paperwork, and let me leave.
I’m not sure if they are still monitoring me, or if I’m in their surveillance system. I think that the officers, as well as the Canadian justice system, focus on protecting and serving the public. However, it’s crazy that as citizens we have to worry about what we say in the digital world. Being in entertainment, my information is public. I can’t hide everything whenever I travel to another country. Nor do I want to.
Surveillance is a mind fuck, especially if you utilize and depend on the first amendment. Which every person does, even if you have no tongue. I’m using the first amendment right now MOTHERFUCKER! That’s why surveillance worries me. We’re tracked through cameras, phone calls, texting, and the internet. This information in the wrong hands can kill dissent. If this situation occurred 10-20 years ago, when marijuana usage wasn’t accepted by the public, you would’ve never heard from me. I would be in prison.
As humans it’s imperative that we discuss the power our governments have over us. I don’t think it makes any sense checking someone’s Facebook feed, unless if they’re charged with a crime. Surely most people have opinions about controversial topics, but are “good”. Those who want to do us harm are hidden deep in the web. This time I was lucky that the Canadian institution that is civilized, but I fear for the next time.
I reached Montreal safely. An hour later, I was smokin’ dank ????????????.
Have you ever been stopped at the border, or had a eerie run-in with the police? Comment below.
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