Day 1 - Monday - part 1
I've finally mastered the art of packing for a trip. The secret is to start a week ahead. I pretty much had my bag ready to go on the Thursday before my Monday departure because I'd started the Tuesday before the Thursday after the Monday a week out from departure. I was so prepared, I actually tried to change to an earlier flight out so as not to waste the weekend but there was nothing doing.
So be it. I had a relaxing weekend, put in a half-shift at the grommet plant, and drove out to the Flusherville Regional Aerodrome with the Quad Queen. It was a perfect spring day so nothing weather-wise would hamper my trip, right?
Let’s face it, I’ve had terrible luck flying out of Flusherville with trip after trip messed up by weather and mechanical delays. This one would be smooth sailing. Or flying, even.
I got to the Aerodrome early, relaxed and fit. QQ drove away and I checked in for my flight. And was promptly informed that there was a mechanical malfunction with the plane to be used for the next flight from Toronto to Flusherville. They planned to use that same plane for the return - my flight to from Flusherville to Toronto. And there were no backup planes, either.
Replacement refurbished Reapertech Airstream II Cannonball Express Bi-Motor Switchcraft 44A (variants of the Zwillingsbiber DHC-2ZB Twin Beaver), with their two Prattfall and Whipley Leftan-Write twin cylinder Carbonair engines are not easy to come by, and certainly aren’t available on short notice.
We'd be at least an hour late.
I had that sick feeling in the pit of my stomach... but I worked out the times. It was not a problem, I would still have time to catch my 8:20 Roudge flight to Vegas, which boarded at 7:40.
As long as I landed in Toronto by 7:00, I could walk through the airport, clear US customs and security, and get to my gate by 7:40.
Things dragged on and the delay got longer. I talked it over with the agent who was willing to rebook me for the morning. Or did I want to take my chances and go on to Toronto anyway? If I missed the Vegas flight, they'd give me a voucher for a hotel for the night.
It was all fucking happening again.
So... choices were, take the sure thing and miss a night in Vegas or... gamble that I could make the plane and deal with the repercussions later if I didn’t make it.
Now what do you think I would do, hmmm?
The plane from Toronto arrived at about 6:30. They'd have to gas it up, and get us aboard and do preflights, wind the rubber band, and all that crap. It takes about 47 minutes flying time to get to Toronto. Taxiing to the terminal can take another 10 minutes, no lie.To Air Canada's credit, the gate agent, Stubs Sylvestro, totally put the hustle into everyone with some curt and appreciated announcements, and we were ready to go in record time.
But it didn’t look good. The clock was edging closer to 7:00, indicating that the time was almost 7:00. And 7:00 was the time I needed to be in Toronto. And we hadn’t even taken off yet.
For the first time ever, I was prayed that my Roudge flight would be delayed. Every Roudge flight I’ve ever been on has been late leaving. Every single one. One was SIX HOURS late.
Now this fucker was showing on time? No matter how often I refreshed the little Air Canada app, and Flightaware as well, it still showed horribly, stupidly ON TIME.
After the plane was serviced and the luggage quickly loaded in expert fashion by Vinnie the Lime, we took off from Flusherville Regional Aerodrome at 6:55 and I lost signal on the piPhone 3.14. On approach to Toronto I grabbed a cell signal and found... no change. Roudge flight 666 was still on time. Shit, hell and damn. How would I ever make the plane???
We touched down at 7:41 and Captain Fittipaldi aced it into the terminal in just 4 minutes. Then we sat, an interminable wait while they offloaded the skycheck luggage.
Some old bag behind me started jawing at the captain that "some of us had connections blah blah blah". Well duh, most of us had connections. And mine was the most important of all, because I was going to Las Vegas. And because I am selfish.
But not as selfish as some. This woman actually pushed by me on the aisle just as I was getting out of my seat, so as to get off the plane 0.38 seconds before me. I let old Grannybritches that that was not cool.
What made it more awkward is that we had had a pleasant conversation back at Flusherville. All of a sudden, she was willing to crawl over me to get to the exit first, like it was last call at an Irish pub.
As we snaked down the aisle, I asked her how long until her flight and she said, "Five minutes".
I said lovingly, "Five minutes eh?... Well, you're not going to make it, Grannybritches."
I grabbed my bag off the cart and ran, literally, across the ramp to the terminal. I ran right past Grannybritches. I'd show her!!!
It was now 7:55 - 15 minutes past the time my flight was supposed to start boarding. I really didn't know if I had a hope in hell of making it. The one thing in my favor was that the Roudge flight is notorious for pushing back late from the gate. For now, though it was still showing on time, for probably the first time in 20 months.
I still had to hustle my way upstairs, get to the international gates, get through customs, get through security, and get to my gate.
Man, I was sucking wind by the time I hit customs. Unbelievably, there was pretty much nobody there. I have Nexus so I whipped through that procedure like a pro (only after inadvertently selecting, in order, Spanish, Portuguese, Micmac and Hindi from the language screen and having to start over each time. What can I tell you, I'm sort of multi-lingual, when it comes to punching buttons.)
And, I did manage to correctly answer that I did not have Ebola anywhere on my person.
The customs agent, Bark Laraby, asked me only one question.
"I have only one question for you... and you better think about your answer carefully. Now...are you degenerate, or are you savvy?"
"Savvy, sir!... no, wait... umm degen-.... no, ummm... SAVVY!"
He waved me through.
On to security at 8:05. I really had no business to expect that I would make the plane, and I even thought about dogging it, my lungs hurt so bad, but I had to give it everything.
The security dude at Nexus waved me to the main line, saying Nexus was closed. Fucker. I backtracked, using up valuable time for nothing.
The security lady at the main line, who went by the name of Bangs McFarley, said, oh you're Nexus and late, run over there! Then the two of them got at it, shouting back and forth across the security hall.
"I told him it was closed already," yelled the Security Agent, whose name was Barry the Screw. Double fucker.
It wasn't really. It wasn’t closed at all. Because I went through. It was yet another case of one of these security types throwing their weight just around because they can, instead of giving a crap about their customers.
I threw my stuff on the x-ray belt and was asked a couple of questions about the contents.
"That's not a cigar tube..." I said in answer to one such query, and raised my eyebrows a couple of times, smiling.
Shut her up. And she let me go.
And yes, it was an empty cigar tube. I had a plan for it, too. Sometime, it would hold... a cigar.
I blew down the stairs, double checked the gate, and hauled Flushy-ass. And the gate was... where? Why F69 of course, pretty much as far as you could get from where I was. WHY? WHY? WHY?!!!!
I thought about giving up. My plane was surely in the air and I’d have to backtrack out of security and then fight with Air FU Canada for a room for the night, far far from the bright lights I craved so deeply.
But as I chugged along, lungs dragging behind me, I heard announcements… announcements seeking passengers for my flight.
"Passengers Imanob Anadonkayr Hoonozit and Levaload Inmypanz for flight 1853 to Las Vegas, report to gate F69, dudes."
They were calling passengers for my flight! And if that was so, then my flight hadn’t left yet! (Or they were extremely stupid.)
There was hope!!!
Three minutes later, winded, sweating, shaking, and faint, I was aboard! It was 8:12pm. All was well. I asked one of the flight attendants, a beautiful young woman, for some water.
I have to say, in all seriousness, the crew on this Roudge flight were knockouts. Every stinking one of them was downright stunningly gorgeous. And, the plane was only about 2/3 full, so I had a shot at having my row to myself. And of course, extra attention from the staff. I looked forward to the flirting and innuendo that would inevitably happen, and to the hard slap to my face that would inevitably happen, not quite as much.
As I buckled into my window seat, Marissa the flight attendant, who I would call Angelwings all night, winked and said, "You look winded, sweating, shaking and faint... have you been...“.
"Yes, Marissa my dear, I have. And I haven't done it since 1989."
"I better get you some water, honey. Doing… that... will wind a gentleman, especially if he does... it... flat out, with no mercy for his body," she cooed.
"We're talking about running, right?"