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Oh, Border Patrol

[Published on June 29, 2011]

I'm in awe of the treatment I overheard from the patrol officer. I was sleeping in the still car of the Amtrak and then was awaken by the strong male voice of someone asking, "Are you a US citizen? Do you have your state ID?"

I was distracted but because I hadn't slept properly through the entire journey and finally was able to feel my eyes and body rest in the extremely uncomfortable seat, the questions continued with a persistent tone. Despite the train riders' confusion with what was being asked, the officer offered no other alternative to make his request clear. I continued to closed my eyes as I became more infuriated with the way he was speaking to the people on the train. Eventually he realized they were in fact citizens of the US and had their papers.

When he strolled passed the next rows of people, the same "Are you a US citizen?" was asked and when he came to my section, I barely opened my eyes and uttered a response in the affirmative. What would have happened had I not admitted that I was a US citizen?

Although my attire indicated a very Midwestern background, and my ability to improvise a foreign accent is not quite at the level I would like it to be, I wonder if he would have asked for documentation on my behalf or if he would have sanctioned my inappropriate behavior since it would affect the train ride for everyone on board.

After he passed my section, he came to a young student who I remember seeing in the Toledo station. She was very polite, soft-spoken and comfortably dressed in a faded yellow Michigan t-shirt and light sweater with black sweat pants, which were more presentable than the pieces of heavy cloth with elastic. When he asked her his routine question, she hesitated and then made it clear that she was studying in the states.

He asked for her visa documentation (or perhaps something else, I was still quite groggy) and she said she didn't have it so he asked for her state ID, which she possessed. There was a brief moment of silence and then asked which school she was studying. She named a school in Toledo, Ohio. He warned, "Okay, you should always carry [the name of the first documentation he requested] on you when you're traveling."

She responded, "Oh, okay, yes. I understand." He left with, "Alright, thank you," and she left him with, "Yes, thank you." He continued walking down the aisle asking the same question multiple times until he walked through the mechanical door that led him into the next car.

When I adjusted my body's position in the seat, my butt had no sensation in and around it and I saw a huge part of a train traveling the opposite direction of our train. It appeared old and unused for quite some time but when I began observing it more, my eyes crept along its rusted metal surface and found an interesting graffiti piece behind the ladder that was created align the metal tank's surface.

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