This week I traveled up to Derby Line to help out on a television shoot on the U.S. border with Canada.
The story, a sort-of investigative piece about how consumer electronics are designed to be difficult (or impossible) to repair, had nothing to do with immigration or border policy. The producers – for the Canadian Broadcast Company’s news segment, “Marketplace” – just wanted to film an interview between the Canadian journalist and the American expert across the boarder.
It was simply, she told me a day or two beforehand, an opportunity to make the story just a bit more interesting.
Most border crossing facilities are cold, scary places where you can expect to answer personal questions while forcing yourself to appear cheerful and unconcerned. Derby Line is small, but probably no different. We were a few blocks away, however, at the famous Haskell Free Library and Opera House, which is right on the border.
The library was closed due to COVID and the border, marked by a line of bright red flower pots, was cold, rainy and deserted when I arrived. The lone border patrol agent, sitting in his car, could not have seemed less interested when I explained the plan.
Eventually the Canadian crew arrived and we set up, everyone keeping a wary eye on the weather. The interview subject drove in from New York. She was gracious and everyone was in good spirits as we rushed through the interview.
The rain grew heavier. I confess I was more concerned about my equipment being damaged by rain than the quality of the footage I was shooting, but I think it came out OK. We got the job done, and everyone went on their way.
Really, there wasn’t a whole lot to do on the U.S. side. The Montreal TV crew had it covered.
I’m not sure the pay was worth the long drive but an interesting day, anyway. And I really love it that there are still spots on the border where people can visit one another face to face, and not feel like they’re in separate worlds.