Newark, NJ Driving down to New Jersey, I kept having this nightmareish flash of walking back into my cold Japanese apartment with my heavy luggage dragging behind me, and having to return to that old 9-5 (though it’s actually an 8-3 in my case) routine. This was a road trip that I had been looking forward to for a long time, but that I dared not countdown to as it’s arrival signified the end of my vacation and the peace of mind that goes along with it.
As to be expected I was greeted with whiteout conditions on the Eastern portion of the 401. This is an occurrence that mysteriously happens all hockey season long even in the non-winter months. I remember a particularly bad post game experience after a Flyers tilt at Scotiabank Place when a severe thunderstorm caused lightning related whiteouts most of the way back to Toronto. Just another reason why my Ottawa games never run smoothly!
Anyway, once making it through the whiteouts, and over the beautiful 1000 Island Bridge, I was faced with the much dreaded American Immigration. I’m sure you know by now that I tend to get harassed (yes, harassed!) probably 4/5 times that I try to cross into the States. It’s to the point now that I don’t even have a safe go-to Bridge anymore because I’ve been stopped a zillion times at all the bridges connecting Southern Ontario to the US. 1000 Islands is the crossing point of choice when heading to most of the Atlantic Division rinks. It adds an hour to my drive, but at least I get to avoid the assholes that work at Queenston-Lewiston, the Bridge that hates me and my suspicious (and obviously bogus since girls don’t like sports) hockey adventures so much that even the Canadian side gives me shit when trying to reenter my OWN country! It really sucks to be in a position of absolute fear every time you book an American vacation due to the uncertainty of not knowing whether or not you’ll even be allowed to go. (Another reason why I’m glad that I’ve finally visited all the US-based NHL rinks now!) The worst part is that every time you get stopped at the Border it goes on some sort of record, which prompts more Border guards to send you off for other forms of inspection despite the fact that nothing suspicious has ever been found in your car, and that you’ve never NOT been admitted into the country after said inspection.
This time around the Border guard seemed to be completely overwhelmed by the state of my passport, and its clutter of full page Visas, permits, stapled documents, and stamps. The guy went through each and every page individually while asking me irrelevant question after irrelevant question – almost like he was trying to deduce if the passport actually belonged to me. There’s an easier way to do that, buddy! Ask for another form of I.D. like, I don’t know, a Driver’s Licence since I’m driving a car and all! I don’t even think the subject of my journey to New Jersey even came up. Anyway, after the inevitable red flag went up when he noticed that the country of my birth did not match the nationality of my passport, I realized that I had reverted to my Gaijin Mafia tone of voice that I tend to resort to when I know I’m doing something bad in Japan, but will still play up the dumb, yet pushy, foreigner and get my way anyway. “Yeah, I was born in Germany on a Canadian FORCES Base *raises eyebrows in a menacing fashion*.” Translation: “Soldier’s daughter coming through, and you’re American, which means you’re actually impressed and terrified by this revealation.” No further questions.
But the Gaijin Mafioso’s rein of terror did not end there. It’s hard to get out of Gaijin Mafia Mode once you’ve had to use it. Over at Prudential Center the Gaijin from Hell used her mysterious powers to get a $10 ticket to the Bruins/Devils game despite the fact that all tickets at that price level had been sold out. Oh no… I had it in my head for over a week that I’d been basking in the glory of nosebleed seats for that game (yes, contrary to popular belief, I actually sit in the upper bowl from time to time), and no one was going to stop me from taking advantage of the bargain basement price offered at the Rock. Later on one of the men sitting in the same section as me remarked that my quote unquote, “Pretty eyes and blonde hair” had something to do with the fact that I was given a $10 ticket in the end, but really it was more of a piercing stare and a not-my-problem-do-something-about-it shrug of the shoulders that won out (as it usually does), in the end. Gaijin 1 – Prudential Center 0.
Speaking of the guys in my section, they were nice and friendly, and seemed to enjoy talking to me. That is until the game ended, and then they found out who I really was. Oh God the look of, “Ohhh SHIT!” that spread across their faces… especially the one guy’s face who then made a point to inform me that he “stays away” from anything and everything related to Psycho Lady Hockey like he’s some sort of God damned, self-righteous freedom fighter or something. I just looked at him with my eyebrows raised in yet another Gaijin Mafia fashion, which should have been read as smug disbelief that there are still people out there that are so opposed to the fact that I choose to write a BLOG, an insignificant BLOG, about my life and my adventures as a hockey fan. Sometimes I wonder if these people realize that even if this blog didn’t exist that I still would exist, and that I still would be going on these ridiculous adventures whether or not there was documented proof online. Let’s face it. I’ve been writing this blog for 3 years, yet I’ve been traveling (on my own) to out-of-town hockey games for 10 years now. And, yes, that’s because 10 years ago I was 16 and didn’t have a Driver’s Licence before then.
After the game and subsequent beer at The Arena Bar, I headed straight back for my hotel room and the comfort of a bed that is not merely a piece of wood with a mat on it (like the bed I call mine here in Japan). I had an exciting off-day planned in New York City the following day, and I was (I think) a lot nicer and more agreeable that day. That is until I was actually shit on… by a bird, of course. More to come on that in Part 2 of the NHL Finale.
Top Photo: Yes, sometimes even I sit in the nosebleed section!