This past Monday, I travelled back to Denali! In honor of sleeping in an airport and riding for 6 hours in a packed twelve-passenger van, I’d like to tell you about the time my tour bus got pulled over by Border Patrol.
Gather children, and listen to this fine tale of possible illicit substances and mild racial profiling.
Back when I was on a national tour, we were traveling down around through New Mexico and Arizona. Two days before we went south, our production manager had warned the entire cast that if anyone had anything on the bus that might get them into trouble with border patrol to get rid of it that night, because if anyone got arrested, they got left behind.
Being the good little girl that I am, I didn’t think anything more of it. Until very early one morning when I was cuddled up on the bus floor in my cozy sleeping bag, the bus lights flicked on, and a booming voice shouted, “U.S. Border Patrol, everyone back in your seats.”
Well, that is much easier said than done when you have thirty actors and musicians sprawled out with blankets and sleeping bags. There were so many pillows and people in the aisle that they couldn’t even bring the drug dogs on board.
After a minute or so of scuffling, we all got seated (well enough), and the scary man with the big flashlight walked to the back of the bus.
“We’re going to do this rapid fire.” He started down the line. “U.S. Citizen?” The first person answered “Yes,” and I heard a scared little voice from the guy who sat behind me, “I have dual citizenship. My other passport is under the bus. What do I do? I’m gonna get arrested.”
“Just says ‘yes,’” I hissed back at him.
The officer came closer, repeating his booming “U.S. Citizen?” He stopped a few rows behind me, shining his flashlight into the face of the one man in the cast who had any Mexican blood in him at all, and said slowly with one eyebrow raised, “US Citizen?”
“Yes,” the poor part-Mexican said in his non-accented, mildly flamboyant voice.
The officer stared at him for another moment before continuing, not even bothering to think about the ginger right behind me with dual citizenship.
Within five minutes, the border patrol had given up on us, and since the dogs couldn’t come on our overly-pillowed bus, none of our musicians or cast even got arrested for pot possession.
And I know it’s horrible, but to this day, I still wish that the one sort of Mexican-ish boy had answered that officer’s “U.S. Citizen?” with “Que?”, but then we might have had to leave him behind with border patrol. And that would have ruined the joke.