Meet Montreal-based salesman Shmarya Plotkin. He makes several trips via automobile every year to New York state, given that the lion's share of his customer base is in the U.S.A. He’s been making these trips without incident for some 25 years. But recently, when driving back to Quebec, things went sideways — big time.
Firstly, he encountered a gruff border agent who asked Shmarya if he had bought anything in the U.S.
Since Shmarya is an honest man, he provided an honest answer, that he had indeed bought a few boxes of pasta costing about $15. So much for honesty being the best policy. This seemed to inexplicably trigger the border guard, to such an extent that he told Shmarya he had to be immediately quarantined at a Montreal hotel! What’s more, he had to drive there without making any stops, even though Shmarya’s house was on the way, and he wanted to grab some food and a change of clothing. But he was sternly told that there were no exceptions to this rule.
When he got to the hotel, the front desk employees didn’t even know the property was being used as a quarantine facility! Shmarya was eventually told to go to a side entrance that was manned by a security guard.
The room he was placed in was tiny and hot, no matter how he tinkered with the thermostat. By this time, Shmarya was famished, but when his meal came, it was ghastly, and in a quantity that would make a budgie pine for more. (Shmarya was forbidden to have a delivery service bring food to him.)
Eventually, he reached a boiling point, and decided to leave the hotel where he'd been ordered to quarantine. When he encountered interference from a security guard, he called media outlet TVA — and the police. The police told the security guards they could not forcibly confine him, and soon Shmarya was making a beeline home to his wife and children. It was, in a word, a nightmare. And it was perpetrated for absolutely no good reason.
Check out my interview with Shmarya here. And take heed of the moral of the story: there is nothing that prevents authorities from lying to you — such as telling you that you MUST stay captive in a quarantine hotel...