Private eyes are watching you

I now have my fingerprints on file. This might be a good thing in case something bad happens to me (and a note to all: if the basement floor looks recently enrobed in concrete, please ask some questions). On the other hand I now have my fingerprints on file, which places certain constraints on future activity if I don’t want to end up on the cover of the National Enquirer.

This is because I am now an officially trusted traveller. I don’t know why they didn’t trust me before because I am certainly very trust worthy. To become a trusted traveller you need to supply approximately the same amount of information to the government as you need to fork over to the Kremlin to get a Russian visa. I am not quite sure why Russia makes it so hard to get into the country, since last I heard people would rather make the migration the other way over the ocean. Just in case you ever need to go there, to get a Russian visa you need to fill out the (paper only) form. Make sure you have your job and travel history for the past 10 years handy and if you have ever served in the military, good luck with that. Then take your form in person to the Consulate office with your money order (no electronic payments going on here) and wait in line, which would be your first introduction to Russian culture. Oh and I forgot to add, you will need an invitation letter explaining why on earth you would want to visit.

Once the Russian officials have checked your credentials, you will need to surrender your passport for about 6 weeks to process the visa, probably manufactured by members of Pussy Riot in a Siberian jail. This is a little disconcerting to say the least, especially when you are not sure if you will need it in the interim and how exactly would I explain to U.S. border control that I do have a passport but currently it’s in Russia?

But I digress. I am now the proud owner of a Nexus pass that (theoretically) allows me to breeze through North American security and border control. In practice this only works some of the time. That is, it only works at airports in very major cities. You can breeze through Toronto security and not have to take off your shoes or even talk to a U.S. official when you are on your stateside journey.

Things went a little south on the way back north. Boston, for example, does not believe in Nexus no matter how hard I tried to convince them I did not really have to take off my boots because I was proven to not be a shoe bomber . Unfortunately my own border also let me down. Of the four machines that welcome the iris of my eye back on sovereign land, only two were functional. Scratch that. The two functional ones kept going out of business once they had decided I matched my eye credentials. I tried not to take it personally, but I am now gaining a new respect for Russian efficiency.

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