We are still steeped in patriotism with the recent memories of our July 4th celebration on Lake Martin. These memories are fresh for us – reminders that we are part of the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave. And we can carry that identity with us in the way of a passport nearly anywhere in the world.
I remember another time shortly after Ron and I were married. We had begun saving our money almost immediately to travel through Europe. We set out in a camper we bought in Germany and headed where the wind blew. Borders back then were tightly monitored. But we had nothing to fear. We were young and in love and, if push came to shove, we could charm people into submission with our quick wit and smiles. (Did I mention we were deluded into thinking love conquers all?)
Setting up housekeeping in our used VW Camper.“Hey “Ron, my mom’s coming for a visit!”
Life for us was smooth until we arrived at the border crossing of Bulgaria. We thought we had properly followed the traffic directions following the circle-around thing. But we ended up entering the wrong way and cutting in line. This ticked off the Bulgarian Border Patrol, and one guard in particular, was suspicious of our German tag. He approached the car ready for war. Always playing ‘Miss Congeniality,’ I rolled down my window to give him my best smile and sweetest voice. This has worked for me before in America.
In Bulgaria, not so much.
This guy went ballistic, and began screaming at me: “Turks! Turks!” And with one fell swoop, he reached through the window and knocked the sweet smile right off my face, breaking my glasses and bloodying my temple.
Most women would shed a tear at this point. But never having been one to back off, I got angry, grabbed his tie and jerked it off him. Ron, unaware of all of this, drove around to the proper position. Within moments, the guards were running to us in our camper, demanding passports and a tie. The moment the passports were produced, the climate changed dramatically.
Attila the Bulgarian Hun was joined by the rest of the guard dripping apologies all over Ron and I. We’d never seen anything like it. “Americans, Americans,” they exclaimed. In no time, we were escorted to ‘the head of the line,’ offered more apologies, muttering that they thought we were Turks, and gently provided us with a bloodless escort across the border.
I’m an American!
I’ve really done nothing to deserve this privilege of carrying the book of magic — the American Passport. And in addition, I am allowed to vote, own land, travel freely and say what I think. Punching isn’t included in my ‘inalienable rights.’
When you travel, you might want to reconsider getting into any fights with border guards. They don’t like it much when you rip their clothes off.
But if you insist, flash them your Book of Magic first!
PS – I apologized and returned Attila’s tie!