Hold on to your stuff, man.

A great first lesson which I almost missed as I was departing Vancouver for Portland in the wee hours yesterday.

I was filling out my customs form at the Train Station.  There were a few of us huddled around a small, waist-high kiosk which provided the only solid surface to write on.  It was equipped with a sincere lack of writing implements  Fortunately, I had a pen in my bag and I took to filling out the form as quickly as I could in an attempt to clear some space for the other people milling about. I like to use pretty high-quality pens which are guaranteed not to leak on airplanes, and have a nice, smooth action to them.  Not your average Bic.

I put my trusty pen down beside my nearly completed form to reach into my bag and get the address of the place I will be staying.  When I looked back, a woman across from me had taken my pen and was filling in her form.  Without looking up she said, "Is this your pen?"

"Yes.  It's a good one, eh?"

To which she replied, "Yeah.  Especially for filling out forms like these".

Somewhat bemused, I watched as she finished her form and handed my pen back to me.

"If you're going to the U.S. you better learn to hold on to your stuff, man".

No word of thanks, no apology. 

"At least she gave it back, dude.  I know some people who would have tried to sell it back to you... at a markup," chuckled the guy at the ticket counter.

Good point.