A couple months ago I was looking at my flight itinerary and noticed I had a one-night layover in Calgary, Canada before arriving home in San Francisco. Literally within minutes of realizing this fact I received a nice, detailed note from a blog reader who wrote to say he liked my blog and wanted to introduce himself. Fast forward to a few days ago and Matt Huebert picked me up at the Calgary airport where I stayed at his condo. Talk about randomness! Though I didn’t see much of Calgary, the open plains looked beautiful and there seems to be a bustling downtown area, too. Matt made stirfry and we sat on his deck, ate, and chatted. Even though I had been up for 22 hours then, I recall being awake enough to be intrigued with Matt’s worldview and do-it-yourself entrepreneurial approach to life.
Canada to U.S. requires all immigration stuff at the Canada airport. Waiting in line to check in there were two Canadian families behind me both going to San Francisco and both raving about how excited they were. Ah, what a nice feeling: returning home after two months with enthused tourists visiting your city.
Next you go through a bunch of security checkpoints and then enter a huge hall with posters of stereotypical American symbols. Beautiful photos. When I walked up to the officer to do my "interview" the U.S. customs official was unbelivably rude.
Me: "Hey there!" (friendly tune)
Him: "Where you goin’?"
Me: "San Francisco."
Me: "I live there."
Him: "So what are you doing here?" in a shocked and suspicous tone
Me: "Had a layover from London. Been traveling in Europe for almost two months."
Him: "What’s your flight number."
Me: "Um, I’m not sure…"
Him: "Hey, you could look at your boarding pass, right? Hey there’s a novel idea! Give me your boarding pass." (super unfriendly tone)
After we’re done, he hands back passport, doesn’t look at me, and shouts to the next person in line: "Let’s go!"
This is the first interaction a visitor has with America. Really frustrating that he couldn’t have been more friendly.