Making CONtact - Part 2


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If you didn’t read Making CONtact, Part 1, which ran last week as part of my Ouch That Burns column, you won’t be able to fully absorb the impact that Part 2 had on my already fragile psyche.

To summarize for those jumping into the deep end of my life however, I will give you this brief overview:  I don’t fly, so I drove out to San Diego Comic Con, in which case, I broke down in rural Oklahoma and needed to be towed 80 miles by a guy named Junior.  That’s the nutshell and I’m the nut for driving the same four day trip each and every year.

Legumes aside, once you travel across country in one direction, you have to travel back in the opposite direction in order to return home, which is precisely what I did following SDCC.  As luck would have it however, I wouldn’t be flying (or driving in my case) solo on the return ride home.

To backtrack just a bit, I have a good friend (let’s call him “Matt” to protect his identity) who just so happened to have the week off and had always wanted to co-star in a great American road trip.  Not realizing what he was walking into, he flew from Boston to San Diego, only to jump into my car (following an afternoon of booze-filled debauchery) to sit shotgun for the 3000 miles back to Massachusetts.   For this he is awarded the Friend of the Year Medal of Extreme Honor and Gratefulness.

But even the Friend of the Year Medal of Extreme Honor and Gratefulness couldn’t make up for the fact that he was diddled by members of the United States Border Patrol.

Let me explain.

When traveling too and from San Diego by way of Arizona, there are various checkpoints you must go through in order to pass over state lines, particularly when driving along Route 8, otherwise known as the most desolate stretch of road on Earth.  Granted, you are never truly passing over into another country (in this case, Mexico), but you’re so close to its border (literally a half a mile in some instances), that the United States sees fit to take a peek inside your windows just to make sure you’re not doing anything illegal.

Not a problem.  I’m all for law and order.  Show me the pony and I’ll ride it!  In fact, on the ride out, I passed through these checkpoints with little more than a glance.  On the way back, we breezed through the first three checkpoints with no more than a smile and a wave.  But on the forth checkpoint?

Well, that’s where things got complicated.

The fourth checkpoint headed East was not your average, run of the mill, “let me peek inside your windows” checkpoint.  This barricaded stretch of highway came complete with drug sniffing dogs.

Now normally I am a deep lover of all things that reside within the animal kingdom, particularly dogs (here’s a shout out to my doggy niece Stella), but when they begin barking hysterically at you for no reason at all, I tend to put my admiration for the canine community on the backburner.

And let me make this clear before I tell anymore of the story.  I have never used an illegal drug in my entire life.  In fact, I didn’t even take my first sip of alcohol until I was well into my twenties, so having a drug sniffing dog sniff out a drug on me was, needless to say, a bit of a surprise.  So, as they directed my car to the side of the road where a trio of armed border patrol followed, I turned to the only other suspect in the lineup.

“What did you do?” I asked “Matt”, beads of nervous sweat building on my forehead.

Now, in “Matt’s” defense, he too has never used an illegal drug, but when a dog trained in finding narcotics thinks he’s found some on you, you have to assume the worse.

After parking the car to the side of the road, we were escorted out of the vehicle and asked to sit on a bench beneath a white canopy, where regardless of the blocked out sun, the 116 degrees still felt like a 116 degrees.

As we sat there with two armed guards watching over us, Starsky & Hutch (that’s the human/dog duo for you readers unclear on the pop culture reference) ransacked my car and everything in it, searching every nook and cranny for a substance of illegal origin.  (I particularly enjoyed the portion of the search where the canine in question was allowed to walk over my laptop.)  While the game of hide and seek continued in my car, myself and “Matt” began to talk with the two border patrol members who were assigned to keep us from running into the Mexican horizon.

As it turned out, one of them was from Massachusetts and grew up one town over from where “Matt” now lives, and best of all, he was a big comic book fan growing up.  Needless to say, this helped to bridge the gap between authority figure (him) and criminal (us) as I told him what I did for a living, and then just when I thought we were in the clear, Starsky ordered a body search.

Just for the record… I have not, nor have I ever, stored anything under my testicles.

After all was said done, nothing illegal was found in my car or on my body.  What exactly the drug sniffing dog picked up on is still up for debate, though if you were to ask any of my friends, they’d probably tell you it was my sweat.  (Jason M. Burns Interesting Factoid # 371: His perspiration smells like marijuana.)

Before turning back onto the highway for destinations East, the two armed border patrol guards who were tasked with keeping an eye (and hand) on us walked away with a signed collection of my books, which I just so happened to have on hand due to my recent appearance at Comic Con.  Handshakes and smiles followed, and in the wake of the barking and groping, both myself and “Matt” realized what we had gained from the near-traumatizing situation…

One hell of a story!


Named Best Indie Writer of 2008 by the Project Fanboy Awards, Jason M. Burns made the leap into the comic book industry in 2004 after being approached to write a short story for Dead@17: Rough Cut, Volume 1.  Since that time he has written and created a number of projects, including the critically acclaimed releases A Dummy’s Guide to Danger, The Expendable One and Curse of the Were-Woman.  While he has been working regularly in comics, Burns has been concentrating on a career in Hollywood as well, developing a number of projects for film and television.

Burns was born and raised in Massachusetts where he began his career as a journalist and public relations professional.  He is currently Editor-in-Chief for the newly formed Outlaw Entertainment.

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  • Andy Oliver

    Andy Oliver Aug 7, 2009 at 8:48am

    I would say it would make a great drinking story for the pub Jason but maybe that's not so apt a description all things considered. ;)

  • CA3

    CA3 Aug 23, 2009 at 1:37pm

    I am not seeing travel by car as a particular positive after reading this.

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