So now that you know the middle of the story, we need to step back in time a few years. (If you haven’t read the previous blog posts, I advise you do that now and then continue with this one.) In December 2009, one day after acquiring my professional drivers license, I was hired by a freight company to haul down into the lower US states. This is what I had dreamed of doing. I would haul from Manitoba or Saskatchewan, usually pork or peat moss to the US and then would pick up fruit or vegetables in Texas, Arizona or California and bring them back to Canada. In the almost 2 years that I had this job, I went through 37 US States and 6 Canadian Provinces (from Quebec to British Columbia). I traversed the Rocky Mountains many times and saw a lot of places I had only dreamed about, unfortunately most were at 60MPH through my windshield. To read about some of my travels, you can see them in my previous Trucking Blog.
I crossed the US/Canadian border many times, usually with very little problems. Occasionally I would encounter a border official who was a little more zealous than usual, but it was all part of the job and I really didn’t sweat about it too much. I guess I got complacent though and that was my downfall.
In July 2011 following a very wet spring in the northern US and southern Canada, many roads were flooded and impassible. I was returning from a trip down south headed for Regina, Saskatchewan with a load of vegetables. The usual border crossing that I would take was closed due to flooding, so I was redirected to a small crossing at Regway, Saskatchewan that I had never been to before. From my memory, which is a little cloudy, the border was on s small rise and was only visible once you had crested the rise. I was caught a little off-guard by the border and almost drove through it!
I made a little joke to the official as he approached my truck, while I was fumbling for my paperwork. He wasn’t amused at all. There was no traffic around at all, it almost seemed abandoned, and that I was the only vehicle they’d seen all day. I was told by the official, whose mood hadn’t improved, to park at the side and come inside. At that point two of them went into the cab of my truck and did a thorough search, all the while I was sitting inside worrying.
After about 45 minutes I was called to the desk, told to turn around, and placed in handcuffs and was advised that I was being arrested on suspicion of smuggling. Something I was never charged with, but it was enough to get me into a lot of trouble! I was given my one phone call to a legal aid lawyer and all he said was to not talk to them. I was put into a room and left to stew alone. In the background I could hear my cell-phone ringing as my wife was trying to get hold of me, but there was nothing I could do.
After many hours, how many I don’t know, I was turned over to the RCMP and driven to Weyburn, Saskatchewan, where I was locked up in a jail cell for the night. Even though it was July, the cell was freezing cold and I could not get any rest. At some point in the night they brought another person in who was seriously drunk, and all he did was yell and scream all night long. Not a pleasant siuation at all.
Throughout the night all I could do was worry about what was going on and how this was going to work out. I had never been in any trouble with the law previously and my only real encounters with law enforcement was a few speeding tickets, and I hadn’t had one of those in about 15 years!
At some point in the morning I was offered breakfast and was brought some toast and apple juice. I could barely eat the toast, but the apple juice went down really well. It was the first “food” I’d had in probably close to 20 hours. I was then met by 2 RCMP Officers and taken to be interviewed. I spoke very openly with the officers mainly because I felt that I had nothing to lose. I had no criminal record and was told by the officer that was in my favour. After spending a couple of hours with the officer, I was told that I would be released and could go home. I had to arrange to be picked up, and was finally able to talk to my wife, who had been informed of my situation.
She arranged for my parents to come and get me and after a very long wait for them to arrive, and a long drive, I was finally reunited with my wife and family. Thus began a very long legal process that I always felt would end much better than it did.
…To be continued.
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