↑ that's a permalink! visit the full archive

by Olav Rokne | originally published on 2002-07-29

I've tried to get to Seattle on eight occasions. Starting when I was only six months old-- my parents were taking my brother and I to visit some relatives in Canada (we lived in Australia at the time). Interestingly enough this is the only time I have survived the crash-landing of a 737-- but not the only time that I have failed to make it to Seattle.

By 1990, I lived in Western Canada, in a town called Calgary.

I tried once to get to Seattle in 1990, it was an unspectacular failure involving nothing more than the solenoid on my car breaking. I didn't try to go to Seattle again until 1997. I had moved permanently to Calgary by this point--there were no My parents went to Halifax the same weekend as my friend in Seattle was holding a party. I asked them if I could borrow their car, but of course they wouldn't have it. I borrowed it anyways, agreeing to meet three of my friends at the Airport at six, after my parents left the country at five. Two of my friends were on time, the third, 'Chad,' showed up at nine. With a broken leg. This wouldn't be as important if he wasn't the only other one of us with a driver’s license.

We piled into the car anyway-- I figured I could do all the driving to and from Seattle (it's about fourteen hours away) The first three hours weren't too bad-- aside from the car stereo eating a tape (I've never been able to replace the tape and the stereo has never worked again). It was when we got to the border that the fun begins.

Before I had even invited any of these people I had asked them if they had criminal records. You can't cross the border with a criminal record. I had also told them all in no uncertain terms that they were not to attempt to bring drugs across the border. We were stopped at the American side of the border after Max the Weasel (I think he actually has a last name, but he's French, and a weasel, so no one can be bothered to call him anything else) made a joke about us being international terrorists. Four and a half hour later, with the tips of my fingers blackened and after a thorough records check, the Americans told us that Chad had been denied entrance into the USA due to a five year old unpaid jaywalking ticket. We were told however that if we cleared up the Jaywalking ticket on the Canadian side of the border, we would be allowed into the USA. Chad was arrested. Not only was there an unpaid jaywalking ticket, but he was wanted on drug possession charges. I was able to quickly interject here to point out that the man with the rubber glove was surprisingly gentle. He approached what must me one hellish job with a clinical detachment that allowed to keep some of my dignity. It cost, but they did say that there shouldn't \ be a problem getting across the US side of the border. They also took a knife to the upholstery of my parent’s car. All they found was a small bag of fluorescent green powder that neither myself nor my friends had ever seen before. It took six hours for the laboratory to determine that it was in fact a small amount of miracle-grow brand nitrogen fertiliser. We still had 22 hours till the tournament. The Americans wouldn't let us across, but they determined that fairly quickly, and we were on our way back to Calgary. The tank was getting empty, and I pulled over for gas.

Now, I was broke (and needed access to sites like these) as I had spent my cash variously on a meal, two tanks of gas, and 1000 in bail, so I asked the others to pay for gas, to which Max the Weasel confirmed he was a weasel by responding "We didn't make it to Seattle, so I don't have to pay for gas." I was steamed. The remaining two paid for gas, and I kept going. When I get angry, I drive fast. When I drive fast, I get pulled over. And boy, was I angry. As we pulled away from the police officers, who had kindly only given me 200$ worth of tickets instead of impounding the vehicle, Chad piped up, attempting to cheer me up, to lift me out of my gloom. He said "I've got something to cheer you up-- I've got the best weed on the planet in my luggage, If it would relax you, I'll share. "I looked him, not speaking. Not able to speak. "Well, if you don't want any, could we pull over so that I can toke up-- I'm stressed as hell” I snapped. I swerved into the ditch. "You dumb ass mutherfucker,” I said calmly, in the most even tone I could muster. "You unbelievable prick-- do you realise what would happen if they had found that as they went through our luggage?" He got out. He went to the trunk to get the luggage.

He found out that he had left his luggage at the border. After the tow truck had pulled us out of the ditch, we returned to the border, forcing Chad to pay for the gas. Oddly Chad's luggage remained unopened by the border guards this entire time. The trip back to Calgary was oddly quiet. As I walked in my door, the phone rang. It was my parents.

"Olav?" said my mom with a puzzled tone, "your brother had said you had taken our car on a trip to Seattle. We were really angry with you-- but obviously you didn't".

"You know how Knut is, mom," I replied "always trying to get me into trouble."

We wonder, why did Olave Rokne want to get to Seattle so badly?