Monday, September 11, 2006

September 11th (not to be confused with 9/11) is an important day for me.

September eleventh, 1988 was my first day at the job I currently have. Of course I switched it around a little and it morphed into something else but I still do the same thing basically. So 18 years later here I am about to tell you some of the highlights. Pull up a chair.

At 9AM I reported for duty at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, AZ. (where I was living at the time) There were 500 Border Patrol Agents "entering on duty" as it is officially called and 250 of them reported to DM. They would house us there for two weeks until a satellite academy at Fort McClellan, Alabama was ready.

They divided us up alphabetically into groups of fifty which suited me fine because right next to me was a gorgeous red-headed hispanic girl and when we ran we did a right face before starting and that put her right in front of me. Oh boy.

When we arrived in Alabama (Oct 3rd) we were housed in the National Guard area of Fort McClellan. Our classroom buildings had been built in the 40's and some of the barracks housing the trainees were that old too. I lucked out. I was housed in what was referred to as "Beverly Hills". Concrete block buildings up on a hill overlooking the rest of the facility. The gal who provided me with miles of running pleasure back in Tucson soon left the academy due to pregnancy. No, is the answer to your question.

The women were all housed in the same building and most evenings it appeared to be in "heat" as most every swinging dick hovered around the place.

I think POW's were treated to better food than the Alabama Natl Guard gave us and Fort McClellan housed POW's during WWII. None were around for comment though.

I learned to shoot, drive fast, control skids, (my fave) law. and Spanish. Of course I already spoke fluent Spanish so I helped classmates with their homework. My third child, Ilsen, was born (11/03) while I was in the academy. I first saw her when I flew home for Christmas. I graduated in the top ten out of my class of 50.

I was stationed at the San Clemente station which is a checkpoint station on Interstate 5 just south of San Clemente, California. I never had so much fun in my life. It was like a big game of tag. Smugglers would attempt to get illegals through or around the checkpoint. Hills to the east and the ocean to the west. I always realized why these people were coming to the US and most of them realized I and the others were there to stop them. I've posted some individual stories and may do so again someday but this post would be much too long if I did that now.

Southern California proved very expensive for a young family with four kids, (Robert was born 12/11/90 in San Diego) so I took a bust in rank to transfer to Douglas, Arizona in July of '92. There we bought a house and the kids grew up while I worked as an Immigration Inspector at the border crossing between Agua Prieta, Sonora and Douglas, Arizona. Life was pretty good there. I spent 4 months teaching at the temporary inspector academy at Charleston, South Carolina and got a slot on the national audit group and traveled around doing audits.

In June of '99 I transferred to Calgary, Canada to work as an inspector. I spent 4 wonderful years in Calgary before transferring to Vancouver, Canada where I am now on this, my 18th anniversary. It's been a good job with ups and downs like any other. I am blessed that it has allowed my wife to remain at home and raise the four beautiful children that she gave me. I am very very lucky because I got this gig with only a high school diploma and my two year mormon mission counted as the one year key experience that was required. Now it is impossible to get hired with only high school.

I consider myself as being pretty good at what I do. I make decisions quickly based on what people tell me and how they tell me. While I DO use several factors to determine what I ask and who I ask it is not what you might think. I use several profiles to determine my actions and those profiles run across all ethnicities and age groups. I might ask a 23 year-old American caucasion male 3 or 4 questions and ask the next guy who might be a 40ish of Iranian descent nothing beyond the where and why of his trip.

I believe in being an inspector and not just a robot that is pointed at some group or groups of people. I try to teach young inspectors, hell, and even some old inspectors to do that.

I have 12 more years before I can retire unless I win the lottery. Some people I work with are already eligible to retire but choose for whatever reason to remain on the job. To me, those are the biggest idiots on the planet.

great post zona. i love how you share these things.
I enjoyed that zona. quite possibly the most important job for all of the American public
I'll never forget where I was on September 11th. Remember, I was boarding a plane to Venezuela, you had just finished the INSPECT and were getting ready to head home. What happen after that will never go away. We went to lock down, evacuate, don't evacuate, go in pairs, stay where you are then finally, we had one of the baddess, bestest, when times are down and nowhere to go Bar-B-Ques in the history of the INS. Many thoughts were share, ideas spun, but all in all we got to know each other better. I've seen you high, and I've seen you low. You've pissed me off and pissed on others but that's what make you, you. Oh, before I go. Remeber when you asked me how to cut and past a picture to a web pag??????? You've come a long way!!!!! VATO
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