Oh, my goodness. If only I'd known then what I know now.
Last Week, I Was Running Out of Time
My scheduled NEXUS interview appointment was too far off to receive my NEXUS card in time for an upcoming big trip (and I was nearing the deadline that requires I have my NEXUS interview take place within one year of my conditional approval).
So, last week, a certain someone dropped me off at the closest U.S. Customs and Border Protection NEXUS Office (also one of the busiest/hardest locations at which to get an appointment).
I decided that I'd patiently wait in the NEXUS waiting room, in case there were any no-shows that day and they could slip me in for a NEXUS interview (even though I'd not found any verification that walk-ins were even allowed).
What I Brought With Me
Per the NEXUS conditional approval letter, I brought the following along...
—copy of my conditional approval letter
—an official document that explains a unique circumstance, in case they asked about it
Before arriving, my mind envisioned (and my body felt) all kinds of scary scenarios: being greeted with hostile disdain, being angrily reprimanded for not following the rules, being refused any help at all, or being booted from this program altogether.
Since government employees have acted with this kind of behavior toward me in the past, when I was following protocol, I knew there was a chance that unpleasantries could be directed toward me.
Thus, I could feel my body bracing for the worst case scenario while I tried to relax and present myself as their best-case scenario (kind, patient, responsible).
I was truly prepared to wait all day.
I Waited Five Minutes
The U.S. Customs Border and Protection (CBP) officer came out immediately, was initially hostile/intimidating, and told me the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) officer would have to decide if/when they could help me at all.
The Canadian Border Services Agency officer came out immediately afterward, greeted me in the warmest possible way, and said she'd just had two no-shows and could interview me shortly. She finished processing a gentleman, then called me in.
There's a sofa between their offices. I just quietly sat there. When the officers appeared, they first asked if I had an appointment. I said yes, but unfortunately, the appointment was too far in the future to receive a NEXUS card in time for extended travels, so I thought I'd quietly wait in case they had any no-shows and might be able to fit me in. I reassured them that I understood if they could not fit me in, that I could wait patiently all day, and then I apologized (I believe in apologies).
NEXUS Interview With the Canadian Border Services Agency Officer
She was wonderful. She was warm, kind, and thoughtful.
She asked me questions—essentially verifying the information I'd entered on my NEXUS application (so it was wise to study it before the interview).
—why do you want a NEXUS card?
—who was your most recent employer?
—how is it that you don't have a recent employer?
She also handed me literature explaining how to enter/exit Canada via the NEXUS lane. She pointed out that I cannot use the NEXUS lane unless everyone in the auto has a NEXUS card (she humorously pointed out that I cannot boot others out of the auto if they do not have a NEXUS card, just so I can use the NEXUS lane).
She then walked me over to the U.S. Customs Border and Protection office.
NEXUS Interview With the U.S. Customs Border and Protection Officer
—this previously hostile/intimidating officer was now far more neutral, then nice, and by the end of the appointment, kind and empathetic
—she asked the same questions as the Canadian officer
—she also asked me if I participated in a list of nefarious activities (crimes, smoking marijuana, etc.)
—(FYI: she said it didn't count if you briefly experimented with marijuana as a teen)
—she took my fingerprints (my fingers are too long to fit within the black outline; that's okay)
—she took my digital photograph (I think she also captured my iris?)
—she explained that the NEXUS program also automatically provides membership in Global Entry and TSA PreCheck
—she informed me that I no longer need to pay for an enhanced driver's license, as NEXUS covers me
—she emphasized that NEXUS cardholders "breeze through security much faster than anyone else, including those with transportation credentials" (I will soon find out how true this is!)
—she said I should "encourage everyone" I'm traveling with to also get NEXUS cards unless I want to "wait quite a long time in the bar for them" to catch up (so a certain someone just applied)
The Delightful Walk-In Lesson We Now Know:
After receiving my conditional approval letter, I could have immediately gone online to make an interview appointment, then the very next day I could have walked into a local NEXUS office and just possibly had my interview that day if there were any no-shows—not 10 months later!