The first time I drove into the land south of the Canadian border, it was the summer of 2010. The Persian woman and the kid who live in my house had taken off on vacation and I was alone.
Its great to be all by yourself for a couple of months each year. You can do what you like and when you like to do it. You can pop open a beer at 10 am on a weekend, without having ta listen to, ‘there he goes again…mutter..mutter..and he hasn’t even brushed his teeth yet…gripe..gripe..’ Why couldn’t God have given me a fun loving woman who likes a tipple once in a while? (Thank the Lord she doesn’t read this blog).
From where I live, the US border at Plattsburgh, NY, is a mere 40-minute drive. Our neighbor, Vince and his wife, Tricia, shop down there frequently. Oh yeah, everybody over here goes down south of the border to shop, even for groceries. The last time, Vince and Tricia came back with all sorts of stuff. I saw even a stalk of broccoli leaning wearily against the rear window of their SUV, looking fatigued like kinda,’ are we home yet?’
South of the border, stuff are dirt cheap as compared to Canada, don’t ask me why. Okay maybe now a CAD is 0.88USD because oil has tanked but the prices down there have always been way below ours. There is simply no reason why a package of 6 Kleenex should cost $4.99 in Canada and $1.29 in the US.
It’s all due to the sorry bunch of richard-head politicians at Ottawa. Thanks to them, Canadians are being ripped off by a cabal of alimentary-canal-end retailers.
US border towns like Plattsburgh have the look of boom towns. They exist for one purpose only – catering to Canadian shoppers. Over there, a Canadian is treated much the same way a Las Vegas casino welcomes a high-roller.
Of course there is a limit to how much each person is allowed to get through Canadian customs without having to pay duty, but there are ingenious ways by which one can show the customs agents their middle finger.
Suppose you want to go to Plattsburgh to buy tires which are less than half the price in Canada. Now you don’t drive all the way just to get tires. You get other stuff as well and before you know it, you’ve crossed your limit. If you are an idiot, that is. Otherwise, when you leave home, you take the ready-to-scrap tires that your neighbor was throwing away and he helps you put them on.
You go buy the new tires at Plattsburgh and switch them right there at the dealers. They can’t say nothin’ to you at the border. As long as you don’t have a beard and aren’t muttering allah-o-akbar, you can a pull a mikey on those jokers at the border and breeze in.
Anyways, after I had my new tires installed, I had nothing else ta do. I ambled around the sprawling Champlain Centre Mall and strolled through the Walmart, Target and Best Buy stores. These are gigantic outfits, each store spread over acres and acres.. The mall is so huge that you can barely see the roof of the Target store from the Walmart, due to the curvature of the earth.
Kidding. I get carried away and lie all the time when I’m writing my blog. Don’t ever take my words to the bank, even if it happens to be the Lehman Brothers. If I had been Pinocchio, I would have been awarded platinum status as a nose transplant donor.
Anyway, there I was, minding my business, for the first time in the land of the free and the prosperous, the kick-ass surgical strike capital of the world and I was enjoying it. I went into a bar and ordered a beer and a turkey-bacon club with a side order of fries. It was delicious.
I was doing a little more ambling when I passed a store named Gander Mountain. Leaning against a wooden stand at the display window was a belt-fed Browning machine gun, pretty much like the one you saw Arnold Schwarzneggar pack, in Commando. Canada too has gun stores. There are in fact three within a block of where I live. But you won’t find stuff that resembles artillery over here.
Curious, I went inside. Just like every other store there, Gander Mountain was massive and at the very end, behind all the outdoor gear, was a narrow section with a long counter on which there were at least 30 handguns of varying caliber and make, lying on their side in a long line. At the far end of the counter there were 10 Uzis and Armalites, also on their sides. I gaped, my mandible dropped to the floor with a crump.
I’m sure these stores can smell a Canadian a mile away. “Lookin’ foah sumpn?” boomed the rotund man behind the counter, looking me straight in the eye and sizing me up in a glance. If you are a gun retailer in the US, you have got to be a good sizer upper of body language, if you don’t want to suddenly gain weight. With lead.
“No..I..umm..er..I was just kinda lookin’ around..” I stammered.
“Look all you want, they ain’t goan nowhere,” he was staring down at some receipts, probably doing his taxes or something. Then he straightened and moved down the counter to a shelf from which he picked up a handgun, placed it on the counter and gave it a shove. The gun came slipping and sliding across the full length of the counter top and came to rest, bumping against the back of my right hand. I immediately recoiled at the touch of the cold steel.
“Go ahead, pick it up. It ain’t loaded,” said Humpty-Dumpty. I reached out and picked the gun up gingerly. It felt surprisingly light and on close inspection, it didn’t appear metallic at all. I curled my fingers round the grip and snaked my index finger through the trigger guard.
“Glock33. Takes a three fifty seven SIG. 9 shots. Tritium illuminated night sight. Semi-automatic.” (Americans don’t say ‘automatic’. It’s ‘auromaric’).
“Its so light!” I exclaimed in amazement.
“It’s not steel. It’s a special polymer patented by Glock,” he replied. He was leaning against the counter and regarding me with a sort of disdain mixed with amusement.
“How much is it?”
“Five hundred but I’ll let you have it for three, cash, plus a coupla boxes of ammo, seein’ you’re a reg’lar gent and all.”
“Do I need to show you any papers? I’m Canadian.”
“Far as ahm concerned, just a piece of ID showin’ you’re over ayeteen, that’s it. No forms, nothin’. You walk out with this baby, no sweat. ‘Course I can’t say about those dumbasses at the border though.”
“But if I remain here in the US, is it legal for me to have a Glock?” I was beginning to be filled with amazement.
“Shore it is. The law is simple – everybaady, and I mean everybaaady, has the right to bear arms.”
“Thanks, I guess I have seen enough guns for a while. Have a great day.” I straightened up to leave.
“No problem, bud. Just drop in anytime. In fact if you weren’t in a rush, I’d show you this little mother that came off the cumpunee depot just yesterday.” He reached inside a drawer and his right hand came out with a nasty piece of work about a foot long. Shining silver, it had a long long barrel and a rotating breech like those colts you saw in westerns.
“Taurus 357 Magnum, 9-shot semi-auromaric. You could kill a moose with one shot,” he called after me as I walked out. I kept walking. Those poor moose, they don’t stand a chance.
I was back at the mall parking lot when a Camaro convertible sighed to stop just next. A blonde got out. She was in a halter top that must have weighed ten milligrams, give or take a milligram. It had straps that spiraled up over her shoulders, like DNA, only they were thinner, I swear. Would I lie to you?
Now that’s more palatable for peaceniks like me – the right to bare….