“Gifford-Jones, I can’t give you a license for your new boat!”
That was the greeting on a phone message from Seager Marine. I returned the call immediately.
“Why?” I asked the staffer in a panic. Were they going to take my boat away from me? I thought.
“It’s because you’re an alien,” she replied. The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles requires that you meet six requirements.”
“An alien?” I asked. “I’m a Canadian, a good neighbor! I’ve owned property and boats in Canandaigua for 30 years! Do they think I’m going to blow up the city?”
“Well, you have to have six points,” she replied, matter-of-factly, “in order to get a license.” And then she listed the requirements.
“But I’m a property owner,” I began indignantly.
“That’s one point,” she responded.
“And I have a passport.”
“But that’s no good, it’s Canadian”.
“And I have a Nexus card.” I was sure that would be worth several points because I had to be interviewed, photographed and finger-printed by the US and Canadian Departments of Immigration to be granted this pass for the border.
“Nope,” she said. “No good. Nobody knows about Nexus cards.”
So I tried another tack. “Well, I’m a member in good standing of The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons.”
“Sorry. No points for that either. It’s not American.” So I tried another tact and said, “What about my gray hair? I’ve never seen any gray-haired terrorists”. She replied, “It won’t work as it’s not on the list for points”.
Finally I shoot my final ammunition. I said, I’m a medical journalist and I’ve been writing a weekly column for The Daily Messenger for 30 years!” But this failed to elicit any response at all, and I realize she’s never heard of me. She might have had the decency to pretend she’d read at least one column, I thought.
At this point I’m feeling like an alien from Mars, and desperately wondering if I’ll have to return the boat to Seager Marine after enjoying it for five weeks. Or if not, will I be tossed in jail for failure to obtain a license?
But finally it’s agreed. I can earn a point or two for having paid my taxes, telephone and heating bills, and there’s no evidence of a criminal record. Not enough to make six points though.
Ultimately it takes the copying of my Canadian passport, and an override from Immigration authorities to grant a boat license to this foreigner.
So much for passports, finger-printing and Nexus cards! You can all feel safe now that I’ve paid my bills and will not blow up Canandaigua.
And whew! I have a boat license.
W. Gifford-Jones M.D is the pen name of Dr. Ken Walker graduate of Harvard. Dr. Walker’s website is: Docgiff.com
My book, “90 + How I Got There” can be obtained by sending $19.95 to:
Giff Holdings, 525 Balliol St, Unit # 6,Toronto, Ontario, M4S 1E1
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