What’s in a name?

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A couple I know, let’s call them Sid and Sylvia, who live in Vermont, decided recently to take a camping trip to Franklin, Vt., which is relatively close to the Canadian border. Sid loaded some of camp firewood into the back of his pickup truck, along with other camping gear, and off they went.

Once they’d set up their campsite in Franklin, Sylvia, who had never been to Canada, suggested they go there, since they were so close to the border.

Off they went, with the firewood still in the pickup. Crossing into Canada was uneventful, and after a couple of hours of sightseeing and shopping, they returned to the U.S. border crossing.

The U.S. Border Patrol guard in Vermont told them they could not take Canadian wood into the country. They explained it was their wood they brought into Canada from Vermont, and that they were returning to Vermont with the same wood. The border guard refused to believe them, and after three verbal exchanges, the border guard threatened them with a $300 fine. They were made to unload the wood and leave it there. Their own wood!

I would venture a guess as to how this scenario would have played out had Sid and Sylvia’s names been Hispanic-sounding, Pedro and Conchita, for example, or African-sounding, such as Bashir and Fatima.

Much different, I think. I think their little bit of firewood would have been overlooked.

Paul St. Jean, Lewiston

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