I flew up to Toronto today. I know, hundreds of millions of people do this every day, but my passport was expired. It turns out that an expired passport no longer identifies me as the person displayed on that passport, because maybe someone else sprung up looking exactly like me but with a fake name in the past ten years.
The other problem was that while I did have my driver's license and birth certificate, I was born in England so my papers left the ticket agent dangerously confused. When you're an American citizen born in England, you get a second sheet, which is the US embassy's record of an American being born abroad. I triumphantly displayed four forms of ID to the clerk: expired passport, birth certificate, American certificate, and driver's license. She took a good, long stare at the papers, then looked back up at me and let me know that the easiest way would be if I just kept my passport current. A quick $20 under the table and I was able to avoid the American Airlines detention facility for people who only have four forms of ID on an international flight.
The flight itself is only an hour long, not counting the time waiting on the runway and the bus to the terminal at Lester Pearson airport. I discovered that when people are trying to get off a plane, they don't appreciate it when you're walking down the steps to get off the plane and start waving and blowing kisses like you're The Beatles. Their loss.
I grabbed a cab from the airport to town, a route that encompassed both the best and worst of Canada. I discovered that you can make anything Canadian by sticking a tiny maple leaf next to the logo. So Sears becomes . Subtle! Now I feel good about spending my hard-earned loonies at this retail establishment! This is much better than that Wal-Mart down the road. No local cultural sensitivity at all when they adorned their logo for the Canadian market:
I snapped back to attention as we drove past one of the saddest things I'd ever seen: a giant inflatable green monster sitting atop an industrial storefront. The temporary sign on the store read "Bailiff Seizure Baby Furniture!" Now I started thinking about an episode of Cops, where the sherriff's men smash their way into a two-room house, throw the baby on the floor, and repossess the crib. And now you can purchase that crib at low, low prices!