David Eaves is thinking about the current implications of America's move post-9/11 to tighten its borders. As Obama and Oprah learned from the IOC members when the Chicago bid failed, getting into the US is increasingly a harrowing experience, even when you are not breaking any laws. It's not clear that you can even do this dance correctly: what seems to work in one instance won't in another, and advice you get on documents or information you'll need may not jive with the gloved man standing over you in a line at the airport. Not only does he not care, he's paid to not care.
I've had a number of anxious experiences going in and out of the US and Canada for work in the past five years. Once, on a business trip to Amsterdam, I was forced have drug sniffing dogs work their way all over me, and then run a gauntlet of heavily armed police, who randomly yelled at people in our group to step out and follow them to rooms for questioning.
The time I remember most clearly, though, for its surreal and philosophical impact was the questioning of one US border guard. He looked through all my documentation and then turned to me with the following single question:
"What do you profess?"
It took me a long time to figure out that he had noticed that my occupation is 'Professor,' and that he was meaning something like, "what do you teach?" However, I carry that question with me at all times, still trying to answer it, hoping to some day come-up with an answer suitable to get me across the border.