Yuma, AZ to Bishop, CA
I set out on my adventure early this morning at 6AM. I was glad to leave my parents’ house behind. My dad is always cool but my mother can work your nerves. I have to admit, though, we got along quite well this time around. I haven’t seen her in three years and I felt like we were due for an argument. However, we spent a week in each other’s company and the only heated discussion we had was about babying Alien Baby. Not bad, not bad at all. She did try to bilk me out of my every last dollar, but I would think she was sick if she didn’t try to do that.
The road from Yuma into California was rather uneventful. It’s boring landscaping in this neck of the woods. Lots of dry desert similar to Kuwait, and then some farmland in Imperial Valley. The only thing to note was the fiasco at the illegal immigrant checkpoint. Yeah, I know that’s not the technical term but that’s what they’re looking for.
It’s so funny because I just made a comment about the illegal immigrant checkpoint coming from New Mexico into Arizona. I had no issues over there. Neither did the white people in front of me, but the Hispanic looking folk behind me got stopped and searched. So, as I stopped at this checkpoint between Brawley and Indio, California the Border Patrol agent asks me, “Ma’am, are you an American citizen?”
Me: Yes, I am.
(Inwardly, I think to myself, “I’m black. How many illegal Negroes have you come across lately?”)
BP Agent #1 stares at me a good long time. I do occasionally speak with a British accent but I don’t think that warranted all the attention I got. BP Agent #2 is walking around my car with a drug-sniffing dog. He nods to Agent #1.
BP Agent #1: Ma’am, can you pull over there to those cones?
Me: Yes, of course.
I pull over and BP Agent #2 and TWO more agents come up to the car.
BP Agent #2: Ma’am, do you consent to a search of your vehicle?
Actually, I don’t but this is where you don’t really know your rights. If I say no, what happens? Do they detain me, or do I get to go on my merry way?
Me: Yes, sure.
BP Agent #2: Ma’am, please step out of the car and wait over there by the benches.
I go over to the benches but I am watching my vehicle. I don’t know these people. They could be doing anything. BP Agent #3 approaches me.
BP Agent #3: Ma’am, what are you doing in this area?
Me: Uhm, I thought it was a free country. Is there something wrong with this area?
BP Agent #3: Is that your car?
Me: Uh, yeah.
BP Agent #3: How long have you owned it?
Me: Since 2004. I drove it off the lot with just seven miles on it. Why are you asking me about my car?
When they opened my trunk, I started getting nervous. While I was gone, I let my sister drive my car. She used to smoke back in the day but I’m sure she quit. Or did she? My mind started going crazy with the possibilities. They were in the trunk so long I almost crapped myself with fear.
BP Agent #4: Where are you headed?
BP Agent #4: Where did you come from?
BP Agent #4: No, like right now.
Me: Oh, Yuma, Arizona. My parents live there. I just came home from a deployment and I wanted to visit them.
BP Agent #3: You’re in the military?
So, yeah, did you notice the GIGANTIC Army National Guard sticker in my back window AND the military decals in the front window? AND all the military gear in the back seat? I didn’t say this out loud but you know, their job is to be observant and look for things. They could have easily determined I was either in the military or affiliated with someone in the military if they were actually looking. However, they did brighten considerably and they stopped talking to me like I was a drug-running, illegal immigrant terrorist person rolled all into one.
BP Agent #4: How long have you been in?
Me: Seven years.
BP Agent #3 and #4 look at each other. BP Agent #2 comes back.
BP Agent #3: Hey, she’s in the military.
Okay, so should I have mentioned this before I was forced out of my car? Because this seemed to be the magic word.
BP Agent #2: Okay, ma’am. Thank you for allowing us to do our job and thank you for your service.
I went back to my car feeling completely discombobulated. I felt like my rights had somehow been violated, but not knowing the law how can I say that? They didn’t ask to see any ID or anything, they just searched my car and went through my crap. I’m sure they were looking for drugs, because there’s no way an illegal immigrant could fit in my car with all the crap I have shoved into it. There’s hardly enough room for me in the driver seat. I’m sure the Florida tags on a random California state route threw them off. But if you apply logic, the whole thing is dumb. If I’m going to run drugs, I’d probably want to fit in a little more. I wouldn’t have WAY out of state tags. I wouldn’t have military decals all over the car. And I wouldn’t be black. I’d be white or Hispanic, since that is the demographic in this part of the world. It’s just so dumb, but it’s over now.
The rest of the ride was uneventful. My poor car can hardly get up the mountains but we’re making it. I just hope I don’t break down. I should have rented but I’m cheap as hell and couldn’t stomach the cost of a month-long rental. It was beautiful driving through the eastern Sierras. I’m in Bishop right now. Cute town with a delicious bakery. I had a cannoli I’m sure had 1300 calories easily. And guess what? I don’t even care.