February 8, 2013
The US border offices are a stark contrast to the surrounding environment. Modern, brightly lit, all glass and metal, they looked very official indeed. Our lead vehicle seemed to be taking way too long at the checkpoint, however. Second in line, we could see hands being raised, a head occasionally emerging from the booth, peering into the vehicle, and much animated talking taking place.
We idly wondered what you have to do to get posted in the middle of nowhere, with only a handful of vehicles to process each day.
Eventually it was our turn, and we were greeted by what appeared to be a jovial, gregarious and brush-cut-sporting individual in an impossibly starched uniform with a pristine, polished badge.
Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Arctic Drive, Part II. Click image to enlarge
“So you’re driving into the United States in this Mercedes-Benz,” stated the border guard.
“And will you drive back in this vehicle?”
“How will you be leaving?” he asked, his head suddenly tilting to one side, birdlike.
“On a plane,” we ventured. “From Anchorage.”
“And do you know who will be receiving the vehicle?” he continued, his eyes beginning to squint.
“Well…. not exactly. You see, we’ll be in….
He raised his hand for silence, and with his neck appearing to actually elongate, his head jutted out of the booth while enunciating very precisely as if we may be feeble of mind…
“Let me get this straight. You’re importing a vehicle to the United States; then you’re giving it to someone but you don’t know who, and then you’re leaving the country.”
Suddenly this didn’t seem like such a good plan. “That’s… right,” we nodded, smiling weakly.
“Well, then,” he said brusquely. “I have to talk to my boss.” And with that he was gone.
We swallowed hard and tried to make casual chat while in his absence. What if they turned us all back? What if he arrested us? What if his boss was even stranger? He emerged a few minutes later with a stern expression, and news.
“I have news,” he said. “My boss says he doesn’t care. We have bigger problems to worry about. Meet your friends down the road at the gas station. Enjoy your stay.”
We fumbled with the gearshift, found “Drive” and hit the road. Later, reunited, we compared notes with others in our party.
“That guy was a lunatic!”
“I thought he was nice.”
“No, he seemed really angry.”
“We thought he was funny!
And so it went. Who was that guy of multiple personalities? Was he in training or was he the guy who trains everyone?