Sometimes you just want to enter the U.S. on a whim.
You might want to celebrate the Oakland Raiders finding another new way of slipping into oblivion. You might want to catch a new sci-fi brothel just outside Vegas.
Should you not have your passport with you, you might want to make sure you have a scan of it on your iPad. For this is what Canadian Martin Reisch says he did when he tried to cross the border from Quebec into foreign territory.
The Associated Press has it that Reisch wanted to deliver some Christmas gifts to his friend's children. How he didn't come prepared with his passport isn't entirely clear. Even for a Canadian to enter this hallowed land there is a documentation requirement.
The rules state that Canadian visitors need to have an enhanced driver's license--which are special documents that are compliant with the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative. Or they need to be part of something delightfully called the Trusted Traveler Program. Or they need to have, well, a passport.
There doesn't seem to be any mention of scans, photocopies or artist's impressions.
Reisch says that he had scanned his passport just, you know, in case. So he thought he'd try to appeal to the modernity and humanity of the border control officer.
He told the AP: "I thought I'd at least give it a try. He took the iPad into the little border hut. He was in there a good five, six minutes. It seemed like an eternity. When he came back he took a good long pause before wishing me a Merry Christmas."
U.S. Customs and Border Protection hasn't commented on this tale of an apparently indulgent representative of the USA.
Many will believe the very notion of an electronic passport seems to represent an obvious future. If people can fling their iPhones beneath the tired eyes of baristas to pay for a mocha, they can surely fling them in front of the suspicious nose of a border control officer in order to prove who they are.
Naturally, there will be security issues and this particular border control officer was probably full of Christmas spirit.
But who cannot imagine the day when people are waving not their official passports on iPhones or iPads but their Facebook profiles in front of fascinated government employees?
Because everyone on Facebook is real, right?
Updated at 9:24 p.m. Wednesday: The U.S. Customs office offered this comment to the Canadian Broadcast Corporation: "In this case, the individual had both a driver's license and birth certificate, which the CBP [U.S. Customs] officer used to determine identity and citizenship in order to admit the traveler into the country."
This doesn't seem to coincide with Reisch's version, where he says he only had the iPad and a standard driver's license.