To start at the beginning go back one post 😉
Part 2- Crossing the Dish
Whoever penned the phrase “Misery loves company”, has never sat on an airplane. Absolutely no one is enjoying each others company. Miserable? Yes. Happy to be with others who are miserable? Not a chance! I know I wouldn’t want to sit beside me! To be fair not everyone is miserable, there is always one or two people that are still riding their vacation high. They are talking too loudly, and are way too happy for someone heading back to winter. My mood gives me urges of wanting to go and slap the smile off their faces, but that’s just me.
Our return flight from the Dominican Republic was delayed due to the weather that was steadily deteriorating in Toronto. It took ninety-minutes to de-ice the plane prior to it departing for the DR. We knew there was a chance of a storm in the north, but had hoped it would slide further east and leave Toronto alone. No such luck.
Boarding the plane in Puerto Plata went quickly. Half the plane was already standing in line at the departure gate. They call for the young and infirmed first, then load by zones. I wonder if, ‘can’t feel my ass’ qualifies as infirmed? No one was paying attention to zones, those in-line moved forward regardless of what their ticket said. The Dominican gate attendants, the same ones that had checked our baggage three hours ago, were no match for a bunch of North Americans that were running late. They just wanted to get going and what zone they were in didn’t much matter… they were in line first! That’s what mattered!! What do they think? That getting to their seats and buckling in would make the five-hour flight become shorter? I pass a man who is frantically fastening his chair’s seat-belt. “Giddy-up”, he says as it snaps shut and he cinches it tight. Yah… that’s not going to work either.
A large number of people on our flight were running late and at risk of missing their connections in Toronto, and there were some already destined to spend an extra night away from home. We had a big time window, so both Honey and I have remained relatively calm during our wait. We are not bickering and even though we are both miserable, we are both civil and dare I say, friendly towards one another. We are unified in our misery. We get our seats; I have the middle seat and Honey has the window. This is fair since the seating was reversed on the trip there.
There is a woman across the aisle a row up from us, she is kneeling on her seat talking animatedly to a man in the row behind her, obviously her husband. She is wearing her, ‘I had the time of my life’ smile, as she talks with hubby, all bubbly and giddy. She is still in her holiday dress-up gear, others directly around me are also smartly dressed in their ‘travelling back to winter’ fashions. Honey and I, like the majority of our fellow travelers, are in our ‘going to feel miserable today’, comfy clothes. I feel my ‘slap the smile’ impulse is rising and I look away.
I look back and she is now in the aisle and beside her is a very tall man. I swear he was pushing seven feet tall! His knees came up to the woman’s hips! I tune in as I hear her say, “…willing to switch seats so my husband and I could sit together?” She is looking up at him, her eyes have that ‘oh, please, oh please’ gaze, and her ‘always gets the man’ smile is plastered on her face.
The basketball player has a stunned look on his face. I’m stunned at what I’m witnessing. Two thoughts quickly race across my brain; “Lady you’re older than that guy’s mother!!” and “What kind of idiot would think that changing from a window seat to a middle seat was a good idea???” The plane already wasn’t big enough for this guy!! If it were me, and I had arms as long as this guy, I’d have slapped that smile into infinity and given the husband in the next row one for good measure!!
What are you doing man?!!? You don’t owe her an explanation!!! If it was so important for her to sit with her husband, she should have spent the money and pre-booked her seats!!! Or at least arrived early enough at the airport to arrange it!! She puts back on her ‘on vacation, having the time of her life’ smile, and pats the kid on the shoulder, “Oh, okay,” she says. After the guy wedges himself in place, she kneels back on her middle seat and resumes her discussion with her husband in the row behind. I can see the basketball player lean his head against the plane bulkhead and close his eyes. I feel your pain brother… I feel your pain.
Our plane finally leaves the ground two-hours behind schedule. Misery sets in and for the next five hours Honey and I both try to catnap if we can. It is almost impossible in the middle seat but eyes closed, I do my best. Even making twenty-minutes disappear in sleep is a plus. We land in Toronto in the midst of snowfall and strong winds. Yay… winter’s back and I’m getting closer to the deep end of the Petri dish. Misery presses down on me hard.
Upon landing every telecommunication tool on the plane is turned on. There are pings and tones going off, up and down the aisle. Clips of songs and rap verses abound and there is an over-abundance of one-sided telephone conversations. “We just landed… it’s snowing here too… At least an hour… we may have missed our connection…” With my hearing-aids in place I am hearing this in surround sound.
The woman next to me has risen from her seat and is looking at her husband, who had sat across the aisle from her. He’s on the phone and puts his hand over it and says to her, “Our flight has been cancelled,” and returns to his call.
“I checked the Sheraton,” he is saying. “They want six-hundred for a night… uh-hah… No, not yet. I’ll see what the airline is offering… uh-hah… I’ll get beck to you.” He hangs up and says to the passenger beside him, the husband of the bubbly blonde, who after five-hours of flying in misery-class, has lost her fizz. “That’s was my limo driver. He says all the flights to Ottawa are cancelled.”
Your limo driver?!!! You’re sitting in the cattle section pal!!! The one that has no leg room, and you too didn’t book your seats before you left!!! But you did remember to book a limo!! You, pompous piece of… then it dawns on me! Something I should have seen, had misery not been clouding my perception. All the clues were there. Couples in their forties, over-dressed for travel day. All around me during the flight I had heard the passenger making conversation about material objects they owned or were planning to buy, places they had been or were planning to go to, and insinuating some kind of personal wealth they probably didn’t have. It was so obvious… I’m sitting in the middle of the ‘time-share’ people!!
These are the idiots that got sucked into doing the ‘tour’ or attended the ‘seminar’ to get an upgrade once upon a time. The ones, when trapped in a room with a dozen very aggressive salespeople, caved and got out their chequebooks! They now travel from time-share to time-share two weeks out of the year, and pretend that they are living the high-life. The rest of the year, they make monthly payments they really can’t afford. All so for two weeks out of the year, they can pretend to be something they’re not. At least once I get home, my misery will go away.
Landing in Toronto two-hours later then scheduled was actually a good thing. We seemed to hit a hole between arriving international flights and immigration went fairly quick. The system at Pearson International is fully automated. Slam your passport in the machine and the scanner does the rest. Everything required to pass through Immigration goes on one sheet, that and your passport and it’s a skate to the exit. Honey and I separated ourselves from ‘time-share’ people and their ever-growing drama, and hustled ourselves through customs in record fashion.
Unlike the ‘time-share’ people, Honey and I had barely spoken. It isn’t until we are outside the terminal, in the ‘designated area’, that we finally talk about what had so far transpired. We laughed through our mutual misery at the antics of ‘bubbly blonde’ and ‘limo guy’. We also discussed the airport screening measures and/or the lack thereof.
I understand that a late-arriving flight from the Dominican Republic was a low-risk flight, but I was expecting something more than gloves! It was still an international flight after all! But there was nada, it was like any other time I had traveled through Canadian Customs. I saw no overt precautions being taken by the customs screeners working our flight to protect themselves against viral infection. In fact, the only additional screening that was done in relation to monitoring arriving travellers, was a question you answered that asked if you’d traveled to any of the following countries; Italy, China, Iran… Yes or No, tick the box and that’s it. Just tick No, and out you go! I’m not sure whether to be re-assured by the lack of concern exhibited by my government, or worried about it.
“One more and we should go,” I’m told. The final lap awaits.