Saturday, October 5, 2013

Late for the plane after being hijacked by Richmond

I don't know why I'm late.  I'm often late. It's not because of self importance or disregard for others. It's like nail biting. A bad habit and worsened with anxiety.   I know I begin to be late more often when I'm stressed and anxious.
I certainly don't want to be late.
I packed the night before as I always do.  I was up 3 hours early.  Maybe it should have been 3  hour and a half.  The rule is to arrive two hours for an international flight, one hour for a domestic flight.  That's always been the gauge.
I just had difficulty getting away.  Instead of showering and dressing and being out the door in a half hour as I normally could I was double checking everything, worried for my home.  Then it was 6 as I was leaving for the half hour drive to the airport.  i guess I didn't factor in the 10 minutes for parking. I know I didn't factor in stopping for gas but was nearly on empty and worried I'd not have gas when I drove home.  Then I got lost in Richmond.
I hate trying to get to the airport through Richmond.  It's a Bermuda Triangle. If I didn't have my iPhone gps I'd be there for weeks or maybe years.  I suspect most of the people who live their gave up trying to find their way out.
I just sometimes end up on the wrong bridge and land in Richmond. One bridge leads to the airport and heaven while the other leads to the purgatory of Richmond.  I know I should know by now. I've done this airport drive dozens of times and yet every now and then I find myself in Richmond. Once I'm  on the #3 road there are no signs. I  knowing that every years thousands of others make this same mistake. I suspect the various stores refuse to put up signs as a means of trapping tourists in Richmond. They're like those folks who purposely ship wrecked sailors by lighting lamps to mimic lighthouse.  It's terrifying.  And I live here.  The harrowing experiences of tourists is beyond consideration.
No one speaks English in Richmond either.  I've stopped people in the past, before I had the gps. and repeatedly asked them in English or French where I was and they didn't speak either official Canadian language.  Strange bizarre people Very peculiar Canadians.
Aliens live in Richmond.  When I saw Men in Black it all came clear. Probably they landed their space ships in Richmond and got lost and have lived there since.
The kind parking bus driver dropped me at the International Gates when I told him I was going on Air Canada to Azerbaijan.  He helped me with my luggage.  I then hoofed it up to the Air Canada International line waiting for families ahead of me to go to the desk only to be told I had to go to domestic since I was stopping over in Toronto first.
The Vancouver Airport isn't a small place.  After hiking for several days carrying luggage and passing bones of men and skeletons of whales and various frightening Indian totems along the way,  I eventually got to an even longer line. I tried to use the check in machine but it wouldn't accept Azerbaijan as a destination at first and when it finally did,  wanted me to put the diploma size visa of that country in a little envelope size hole for scanning.  I told the pretty Air Canada hostess that I was late for a flight to Azerbaijan. I knew I was late by then. I wasn't looking at my watch having no time for non essentials.  But she directed me to  the long line and I waited and waited.
I began to hate the old and the young and invalid in that line.  They seemed to lack focus.
When I finally gave my ticket to the very attractive middle aged Chinese Air Canada lady hostess, she told me, "You're too late.  If you didn't have luggage I could put you on but they've stopped taking luggage."
"I said, "I normally travel with only a carry on but my colleague wanted me to bring him books. I'm the speaker at an international conference."
""You shouldn't be late."  She scolded me.  She actually scolded me. I'd not been scolded for several marriages. A distant ex was a scolding feminist whereas I definitely was scolded by church ladies in Sunday school when I was very young.  But I'm 'elderly' by some ridiculous definition of the agist young.  I became filled with guilt and apologetic.
""I went to the International departures".
""That's only a ten minute walk"
"I waited in line," I said
"But you're going to Toronto first. You should know it's not an international departure."
And then I bristled.  I thought of all the things that patients don't know and how daily we're sued or complained against as doctors because people don't know.  Here I was a older man, more than 10 years her senior, no doubt, and she was scolding me. She was even implying I was a liar.  I take truth very seriously, indeed more so than some in the courts today.  More so than journalists, and pot smoking, crack using politicians.  More so than presidents who apparently don't know what sex relations are but are supposed to be trusted with nuclear weapons.  
I was calmly responding as an adult but feeling back in grade school with the bullying female teachers.  I remember the one that stripped me naked in class and spanked my bare bum in front of all the boys and girls I played with. It was so humiliating.  Now years later I resisted feeling humiliated.
Her voice was challenging, the tone was even belligerent. She was flushed looking at me.
I knew then that I could say something and she could hurt me now or help me.  So much of my life had been my saying the wrong thing, being drawn into the traps of the petty bureaucrats and all those who seek positions of authority to wield power they lack themselves alone.  All the cowards in the world.  I've fought them all my life.  I've bull dozed through them. I've bowled them over like ten pin bowling pegs. I've championed the underdog.
But now I just wanted to get to Azerbaijan.  A friend had asked me to come. I thought of him and those who wanted to hear my contribution. I thought of all the work that people had gone to this last week to get me a visa  in time to attend.  I thought of my poor assistant moving patients and getting research notes and caring for my little dog.  I thought of all the important things.
She was staring at me, waiting.  I silently prayed and held my savage tongue.
"Can you help me? "  I asked sadly, "I know what the problem is but is there a solution?"
Then she looked in her computer.  She began scanning screens and typing furiously.
The flush went out of her cheeks. The hackles settled.  I didn't know what her day was like. She may have had news that her mother was sick or her boyfriend was having an affair. Because I'd not met fire with fire a wholly different outcome transpired.
She was obviously intelligent, accomplished and effective.  She was positively caring.
"I can route you on a jet leaving for Toronto in an hour. It's arriving a half hour late so there will be time.  That will also allow you to make your connection to Heathrow in Toronto."
With that she tagged my luggage.  I gave it to the luggage attendant.  It wasn't just the books. I was bringing a projector on this trip and was carrying that , my computer and camera  so needed another bag to carry shirts and socks and such.  There was lots of room for the books. I'd also rather liked the idea of taking the books because it ensured I had space in my luggage for the return haul.  I've often had to buy another bag or struggled with purchases I have no room in my luggage for on return.  I like buying gifts to share with friends.  I always bring a toy back for Gilbert. So the books were welcome. I felt just a little guilty about the 'knee jerk defensive excuses'.  Really I'm not a 'bad' boy, it's fate.
I didn't want to tell her about Richmond either.
One never knows who might be one of them.  The people who live in Richmond and don't think it's "unusual".  I think the movie "Invasion of the Bodysnatchers' was made after a writer or movie producer got trapped there years back.
Thanks to her, my prayer, my late found maturity,  I'm now in Heathrow.  I'm noticing too that I'm becoming more peculiar myself with aging.
I found myself wondering if it was  possible she had a part time job as  a dominatrix and there was some blurring of boundaries between her two occupations.   A lot of men pay big money to have attractive women  scold them at my age. Some even liked to be spanked. For all I know she could have just looked at me and felt charitable.
Air Canada rocks and as usual I love their service. Against all odds I'm here in London and the flight here was truly a joy. Now on to Baku, Azerbaijin!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I thought I was the only one doing what you did

you are so lucky to be routed and still make the journey

God has mercy for people like you and me