When I arrived in Canada for my stay at Perimeter Institute, the border officer marked my customs form and shoved me over to Canada Immigration. “I'm not immigrating!” I tried to say, but had to get in the back office and in another queue. I'm not sure why they suddenly found I look suspicious. I've been crossing the Canadian border dozens of times during the last years, and they usually just ask me what I do for a living and stamp my passport. Maybe they were confused by my expired work permit. In any case, I ended up with a young, blonde officer in an intimidating uniform who made his way through my passport.
“What did you do in the USA?” - “I worked there.”
“What do you do?" - “I'm a theoretical physicist.”
“Ah. What's the purpose of your trip to Canada?” - “Ooohm. Collaboration.”
I was actually about to say “I live here” before I recalled I recently moved to Sweden. After a day's trip at 3am in the morning I'm not exactly in the best shape.
“Who do you work with?” - “Some people at Perimeter Institute. That's in Waterloo.”
“What do you work on?” Excellent question actually. What do I know? “Dark matter.” Or something like this. Maybe.
“Dark. Matter. Humm. What do you do for that?” - “Huh?” - “How do you work?” - “Well. We do calculations and things. Write papers. I mean, journal articles.”
“How do you write a paper?”
Border officer wants to know how to write a paper. Is there a restroom here?
“Oohm. We sit around and talk, and write things on the blackboard, and read other's papers and work through equations and sometimes there's numerical fits to do. And so.”
Guy grins. I wonder why. He probably has a degree in physics and two dozen published papers. I think I'm not doing this very convincingly. “Oh, and we think.” At least we try. Now stop babbling.
“What was the name of the place again?” He types something into the computer. Grins again. Clicks. Turns the monitor around and shows me this website.
“Here you are. You dyed your hair.” I did. What was the first hit? My blog? Then he stamps my passport.
“Welcome to Canada.”