Sunday, January 29, 2012

Shit, but not on OUR shingle.

I blog in my head on a daily basis, unfortunately between working 6 days a week and watching (and loving) 2 babies under 2 years the minute my feet hit my floor at home it's been only in my head. I have so much to say and I'll never give up on my blog, it's been here for me through so much, and what I mean is that THE PEOPLE that read it and comment and encourage have been here for me. As happy as I am now I'll never forget the kindness of all the commenters and friends I've made here.

But anyhoo, there's always another chance to write when the time comes. People might not come to read but my blog is still here, and I'd die before I deleted it!

So, without further adoo (never tried to spell that one before, adew??? no wait....adeu!??) Anyways.

Even though I'm working in Mexico now I still have to cross over Texas at least once a week. Crossing means answering the questions of the border officers. Border officers are brave and RIGHT THERE on the front of our line protecting the U.S. from a multitude of sin crossing our borders. But they're human and some of them might be brave but also ugly.

Most of the time it's just the normal "Are you transporting any fruits, vegetables, tobacco, liquor or other substances? Cash in excess of $10,000? Firearms? Have a good day."

Sometimes it gets to "What are you doing living in Mexico?"

***note, I respect these men and women and the job they do, I am ALWAYS polite, smiling, and absolutely cooperative with ANY request or question they ask. Even when they are outright out of line I stay level headed and never give them back any treatment that they might dish out to me. NEVER. (I was raised better damn it) They are protecting my family that still lives in the U.S. and they risk they're lives, they deserve respect***

I tell them my husband is deported and sometimes they leave it at that. Others ask "Why" (and others try and guess! like it's a game or something) but I always answer truthfully that he got in trouble. Some leave it at that and still others have to ask "What EXACTLY did he do?" At which point I always die a little inside because the answer sounds bad and it's not fair because they don't know the circumstances that led up to it, just the bare facts.

At this point they usually go silent or just give me a look, or won't look at me at all which I've gotten used to even though it still hurts. But some take it upon themselves to take a step away from the higher standards of service that they should hold themselves to - and get ugly.

I've heard, "Why would be with a guy like that?" "You're good looking, you could do better, why not go back home?" "What, do you have kids with him? Is that why you're here?" "Aren't you afraid for your kids living there?" And more, but I try not to remember them. And it's not just the questions, it's the looks and the TONE, the pity and disgust that hurt so much.

One officer in particular is reliably ugly. I don't know what his deal is but I cringe (and I've talked to THREE other expats that live here who've had the same trouble with him) every time I see I'm in his lane.

This last week my baby Niko spiked a fever of 103 and had been fighting colds and infections since Christmas and I'd had ENOUGH with Mexican medicine and requested to leave early from work (so I'd make it across the border before the doctors would close) and headed to Texas.

I ended up in Mr. Ugly's lane but thought, hell, maybe he'll be nicer since I have an adorable baby with me. Unfortunately, he didn't seem to remember me at all, (after all the times of harrassing me) And started in on the questions. He moved from the normal questions, into the sticky ones and right on over to the ugly ones. His final statement to me was "Huh, well.....he's better off over there (Mexico) then anyways."


I was speechless. I was so polite to him and he just thwacks me across the heart with that one. So few words but so hurtful. He was talking abut my HUSBAND, that I LOVE SO MUCH that I gave up my easy life and my friends and family to move to another country 2000 miles away. The sweet wonderful father of my children who has worked so hard since coming here and who doesn't even deserve to BE here.

He then handed me my passport back and told me to HAVE A GOOD DAY.


I cried on the way to the doctors office and brooded the entire day and night and next day. The next day I had to return to Tx to shop for my husbands business and I hemmed and hawed and freaked out in my head but I decided that I wasn't taking any more. When I reached the border agent of the day (a very polite gentlemen that pity's me but is nice to me) I very quietly and politely told him that I'd had trouble with an officer the day before and was wondering how to file a formal complaint. I was so embarrased and I even told him I was SORRY! He thought it was funny and wanted to know who it was but I told him that I wanted to do this the right way and didn't want to enable any gossip. He kept trying but I held fast so he wrote me an orange ticket for secondary and off to park I went.

Another officer came out to ask if I'd been helped yet and I had to explain again and he went off to find the supervisor.

I was nearly dying at this point, I'm just NOT a wave-maker in life but I wouldn't be able to get OVER it if I didn't do something. I walked the supervisor through the conversation (and felt SO STUPID when I cried after telling him the final comment and how I thought that it was cruel) and told him that I respect their jobs and know that sometimes people have bad days and make mistakes but that this man had crossed the line too many times.

He was VERY kind and respectful and told me a little bit about how the border works and what officers are allowed and not allowed to ask. I told him that I had no problem with the questions, that I'd answer anything they ask and he said that I'm one of the FEW who cooperate. That struck me as strange, I'd never even considered not answering a question. He hinted that the questions about my husband and why he was deported COULD have been over the line, depending on if the officer was suspecting me of something and was trying to eek out info of me by asking that - or if they were just being curious.

I assured him agian that the questions don't bother me, it was just the mans statement, his cruely-inteded (opinion) remark that had upset me so much. He winced and said that no, it was not ok. We talked for awhile about different things and he told me that he would sit the man down privately and have a talk with him and explain to him what questions are appropriate to ask and what are not and that it's not ok to spout out opinions about peoples lives. He gave me his office number and said that if anything ever happens to call him right away and that if he's not there to please leave him a message. I thanked him very much.

After relaying all of this to my husband he was cynical and said that the guy wouldn't say a word to the agent but I don't think that's true. The supervisor used to be in the armed forces and he even mentioned that though their job is tough, they have to hold themselves to higher standards - and I truly think he meant it. I believe he's an honest man and will do just what he said and that's all I would have asked for. I wasn't out for blood, I just had to get it off my chest and hoped that the agent would at least have a mention of his rudeness made to him.

So, that's that. I meant to go on and tell you about some REALLY FABULOUS things that have happend to us as of late but I've already typed your eyes off I'm sure, so I'll save it for the next post. There needs to be more posting because my poor brain is filling up with so much to say if I don't get it out I'll start talking to myself, or strangers. :D

Thank You for letting me share this experience with you, and if you know a border agent or any other person of service that's a good person, make sure to give them a smile or an extra hug the next time you see them.



Estrellita said...

I'm sorry that you have had to tolerate callous, humiliating remarks. I truly hope that the agent is reprimanded. Voicing his opinion is not part of his job. It's sad that some people think it's okay to pass on criticism disguised as 'advice'. It's worse when it comes from a stranger.

Stephanie G said...

*Warning* (Very long comment with personal experience)
I have crossed the border into the US 2 times and have been "lucky" enough to end up in the lane with the same person both times. The last time, I got his name. Each time he questions me and is very rude, he tells me that my husband is probably one of the criminals who commited some f**ked up crime and was deported. I told him, no, actually my husband was never deported, he left by his own choice. He then said yeah right, that is what they all say. I am like you very respectful to the officers, they deserve it but, this guy got to me and I told him, "Officer, you have no way of knowing if he was deported or not and I have no reason to lie to you. So, that was completely out of line and that, if it ever happened again, I would report him." He sent me on and told me to have a good day.
On my way back in, I was stopped by Border Patrol and guess who was there? This same guy but, he was with a few other guys and he said sometyhing to another officer who then, said something to the officer who was talking to me. The officer then started questioning me about drugs and excess money, I had my 2 kids with me and I told him, "Officer, I only have 5 dollars to my name right now and defintiely don't have any drugs. I am returning to Mexico after picking up my kids from my parents. They had the dogs check my vehicle, checked the gas tank, they were even suspicious that I had a full tank! I know all of this was because of this one guy but, I didn't say anything then. I just wanted to get back into Mexico and get home before dark and it was 4:30PM and I still had to drive all the way to Monterrey.

I made the decision then that, if this ever happens again, I will imediately request to speak to a superviser and will report him/ her. The bad thing is the ones who are the most rude, are of Mexican descent, usually.

Miss C. said...

Lindy, being a white French girl leaving in Mexico for the past 10 years, i've experienced that too, especially when travelling to or from Mexico, transiting through the States. I once heard an immigration officer asking me: you're living in Mexico?? But WHY? That kind of judgemental comments infuriates me. Always. No matter what each of us reasons are, we are entitled to be treated fairly and equally. And who the hell do they think they are to JUDGE who you are, what you do, where you live and who you do all that with. The attitued of that jackass obviously upsetted you deeply and you did the right thing reporting him. Now go show them assholes who you are! There's definitely no need to be rude and non-cooperative but there's also no need from them to be nasty. It's not our fault they have a shitty job. Don't ever feel bad to make them feel better.

Gringa-n-Mexico said...

Estrellita - disguised as "advice" ooooo that one happens too! You're so right, thank you :)

Stephanie G - Very long comments are always welcome. And I'm sorry you've gone through that - booooooo!! And YES!! Let us ALL start reporting it EVERY TIME and maybe they'll start some sensitivity training like they do for sexual harrasment cases. Or like....anger management for scary drivers, you know what I mean. :D I for one am not taking it even ONE more time. I'm AM afraid if I make 10 (or who knows, 1-2) complaints in the next year they'll flag me as a crazy lady but, well, we'll see.

Miss C. You Too!! Gahhh!! Well, I'm not alone. And WHO DO THEY THINK THEY ARE!! You know, I've never had a woman officer make a rude comment to me.....but whatever, not going to open that can of worms. But anyhoo, join me and report them if they're being (truly to far) rude. So I won't look like a crazy lady ;D

Thanks for your comments ladies, I know I'm not the only one and commiseration heals my heart :D XOXOXo!

BC said...

Hi, Lindy! First off: the word is "ado." Secondly, I'm so sorry this a-hole has been abusive to you. I wish I still knew someone who in the organization who could offer some sort of assistance. When I was in Customs, it was still under the Treasury Department; Homeland Security didn't exist yet. The few friends I have who are still in are all low-level and they HATE what this organization has become.

I suggest, though, that you go to their website. I would be truly shocked if there wasn't some means to communicate a complaint. There's no guarantee they won't just blow sunshine up your skirt, but it might ensure that someone higher up the food chain looks into whether the moron received a talking-to or not.

Gringa-n-Mexico said...

BC - Website? Really? Thank you for mentioning that, I never would have thought about it. On that same day when I came back into mexici I was stopped on the u.s. side for random questioning. The speaking officer spoke to me in Spanish and I requested English and he started messing with me about not speaking Spanish. "If you're going to live there you need to learn the language. How can you LIVE over there if you don't??" "How do you shop in the grocery store?" He wasn't fooling, he was being a dick and acted so disgusted with me, and he didn't even KNOW why I'm living in Mexico. I was to freaked out about the earlier incident to think of getting his name and it hadn't occured to me yet to report people. But, what if I DO start reporting it every time (and it happens a LOT) You've worked in that situation, don't you think they'll asume I'm a crazy lady? Or maybe it'll just depend on the person in charge. I've never commited a crime and I'm so SICK of being treated like a miscreant. I'm gonna start asking for badge numbers, I swear it!

Unknown said...

I've not had good dealings with police in general because I truly believe in exercising my rights, and they don't like to be pushed back when they get pushy. They expect everyone to roll over with their tails between their legs and take whatever they dish out because they wear a badge on their chest. "Am I being arrested or am I free to go?" is a very valid question when the police start sticking their noses in wear it doesn't belong. And without probable cause, no one has permission to search my vehicle, cause they will need a judge to sign a search warrant. Americans forget that we have these rights, and we let the police bully us into compliance. The guy who drives the corridor into Arizona, who posts under on youtube is my hero. Especially once you are already inside the US you should not have to submit to additonal checkpoints.,... My rant...

rubireyes said...

Good for you for standing up for yourself and reporting him. Who knows? Maybe you just stopped another another woman from having to go through that same experience. It is very wise of you to view them as people who are just doing their job and give them that courtesy, but they should be called out when they overstep their bounds.

aj said...

Good for you! We live in Canada but when we go back to Mexico we cross the US. The customs officers are always polite to me but rude to my Mexican husband. I've never understood it because Americans are always so friendly and nice. We understand they have a job to do but they don't need to be RUDE. I think the word is spelled adieu as it is French......:)

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry he said that :( I think it's great that you respect the officers and cooperate even with the tough questions. But you're right, it's out of line for them to give opinions like that.

I've been lucky to ot have problems like that in Cancun. I think Mexicans and tourists alike are very open-minded and friendly here, plus we don't face some of the challenges you have on the border.

I've had several Mexicans tell me "Why on earth do you want to live in MEXICO?" but no American friend has ever questioned the choice haha

Lisa n Javi said...

Sorry you got such a prick. I dont know how you have so much patience and strength to handle it. I only have to cross the border walking when I fly from TJ and I hate it. Especially when going back to the US side. Most of them are nice but there s always one with a stick up his but. Good for you for reporting him, I hope that the guy keeps his word and does have a talk with him.
Oh and Welcome back. Hope you post again soon.

Ana Hernandez said...

I keep a notebook and pen in my truck, I always ask for names when they do cross the line, I let them see me write it down, then I tell them point blank, "That was very rude of you, don't you EVER speak to me like that again, I will be reporting you." Amazing how few problems I have had at the border over the past few months!

and FYI, it is "adieu" it is French for "goodbye" "farewell" or "Good day".

Zoe said...

Definitely welcome back, even though it wasn't all happiness and light. Nice that you have a good set of followers with whom to vent and get a good "atta girl" pat on the back. I guess when you cross so often, you begin to almost get ready before you get to the gate and that can be stressful. I don't think I would have been half as nice as you were. How about some pics of the droolers? '-)

~ellen~ said...

Glad to see you post again, even if this was an upsetting story.

I'm glad you reported him Lindy, it was the right thing to do. Good for you!

BC said...

Ana, yes, adieu is French for good-bye. However, this is not the context in which our Gringa has used it. The phrase "Without further ado" means without additional commotion or fuss. Think about it. Does "without further good-bye" even make sense?

And Unknown, I'm truly sorry to be the bearer of unwelcome news, but when you're at a border, whether it be a land crossing or an airport, your rights have changed significantly. I'm not debating whether this is right or wrong. Obviously it would be wrong in your view, and I'm not disagreeing with you, I'm just stating a fact: nexus with a border changes everything, and yes, the Customs and Border Protection personnel do indeed have the right to search.

Ana Hernandez said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ana Hernandez said...

no, I did not read much into it since I had skimmed over it quickly, I stand corrected. I also agree that at the border, you lose many rights that you would have elsewhere within the U.S. VERY TRUE! However, it does not give an officer the right to cross the line into rudeness, there are still some things that they have no business saying of doing.

BC said...

I agree with you, it absolutely doesn't give anyone that right, that's why I suggested Gringa check out the website for a means to backload her complaint.

Gringa-n-Mexico said...

Eeek, glad we're all playing nice here....*cough cough* And thanks you gals for the support and hello's. I'm carrying a pen and paper from now on and I'm gonna wear my big-girl balls and take some names!

Kristi said...

You have every right to be upset about such mean comments. You did the right thing by talking to the supervisor ;)

Jane said...

There are always some bad apples in every profession - but yes, unfortunately those people have the upper hand and a lot of power. My latino hubby doesn't think twice of putting them in their place - to which one time the border official told him that he could "impound his vehicle". Now you left us hanging there - I'm curious as to what the crime or situation was that got your hubby deported. Maybe it is in a previous post - but i don't remember reading it. I enjoy your blog - faithful reader - even if I don't comment - keep writing. I am glad to hear that you and your hubby are on the upswing financially! I think whoever created that old adage "Money can't buy happiness", never had to really struggle financially. Here in Canada we hear so much about the violence in Mexio and our Government is now even warning against travel down there. All of my friends and colleagues who used to travel there are now saying they will not travel to Mexico - what say you??

raúl said...

Good to see you blogging again. I think I spat up some coffee while reading the new posts. You are very articulate and should not swallow anyone else's b.s. You certainly were more kind than I would have been. Good for you, for talking to the a-hole's supervisor. I hope something comes out of it. Give'm hell babe. :)

raúl said...

Good to see you blogging again. I think I spat up some coffee while reading the new posts. You are very articulate and should not swallow anyone else's b.s. You certainly were more kind than I would have been. Good for you, for talking to the a-hole's supervisor. I hope something comes out of it. Give'm hell babe. :)

Tami said...

Sucks that you had to get treated that way Lindy. I know exactly how you feel going through that border. They can be really nosy, but being hurtful like that is just down right insensitive. I hope that man got an earful.

Miss Barbara said...

Welcome all your GRINGA insights. Voicing our opinion to the SHINGLE in the USA can also cause a threat. Currently working for local PD, I own a home in Chapala, and in 16 short months I shall move to be blessed and be a blessing there. Wanting to share that a Canadian company has opened a warehouse in Guadalarja and many locals and expats have been blessed with amazing incomes. WHY NOT click into my blogspot: Extra Sharp - and then respond to me, Barbara Alley. alleywrites@yahoo with your comments. I am always seeking to work with people who have adventure running in their veins. From a GRINGA N MEXICO, Adios for now.