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Friday, April 08, 2005

The redeye flight

It's 3:40 in the morning, and I decide to preempt my alarm radio by getting ahead of my scheduled 3:45 wakeup call. I have a long day ahead of me--before noon, I will be in Vancouver--and there is still some last-minute packing that I have to do. I didn't sleep well the night before because it seems my body doesn't take kindly to being forced to go to sleep by 10pm (many hours before my normal bedtime). Still groggy from fighting with my stubborn body all night, I stumble out of bed to get everything sorted out. 30 minutes later, I have finished washing up and I'm quickly putting the remaining needed items in my backback. After a quick call to my oblivious partner in crime (:-p) I get on the elevator to meet my 4:30am airport bus.

To my surprise, the temperature outside is not cold, and I find that the cool early morning breeze has a refreshing effect on me. I don't stand on the corner of the street a lot at 4am, so I take the opportunity to have a look around. To my right, I see a group of hoodlums standing outside the building next door. They look quite menancing, so I decide to start pacing--obstensibly to keep warm, but really so I can I have running start should their attention turn to the tourist-looking guy (me). My fears of rampaging hoodlums are soon allayed, thankfully, when the Express bus pulls up to whisk me away to the airport--by whisk, I mean drive slowly to about 8 other downtown hotels, before actually getting on the Gardener Express.

It's now 5:40 and I'm at the Air Canada ticket counter getting checked in in record time. 10 minutes later, I find myself in line to go through security, but here I begin to worry. In my backpack there is a metal Oakley container that is shaped like a giant Howitzer shell, and beside that is a bag full of batteries and wires for my cellphone, camera, and iPod. In my head I picture the reaction that'll be on the screener's face when this beauty passes the X-Ray. Buried deeper in my head are images of me being questioned, restrained, and finally given a full-body orifice search by the RCMP. The security woman waves me through the scanner, but I don't hear so much as a peep. I am at once relieved that I won't have to be gang probed for weapons, but also alarmed at the pathetic security at the airport. It's still early in the morning, and my head is not going full pace, so I let that whole episode slide and step onto the moving sidewalk for gate 139.

The sky outside gradually turns from an inky black to a pleasant, pale blue as I wait in the all-glass terminal. The two hours of sleep that I managed to get prior to coming out is proving to be less than enough. I'm running on fumes and I can't wait to get on the plane so I can go to sleep. When my row is announced, I board as soon as I can and plop down in my window seat beside a small, sour looking man of about 40. He looks like he might be a talker, so I adopt the universal "I don't want to talk" stance: eyes closed and arms folded across my chest. It seems to work well enough and when I open my eyes again, we are ascending to a cruising altitude of 36000 ft.

The inflight movie is Ocean's Twelve--either that, or I'm dreaming about Brad Pitt in my high-altitude sleep (no comments, please. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, and sometimes Brad Pitt smoking a cigar is just Brad Pitt smoking a cigar. End of discussion.) It's now 9:00am (or whatever time it is wherever we are flying over), and the sun is shining right in my face. I use my window-seat powers of executive decision and pull down the blinds. Sour-man looks displeased as this sudden theft of sunlight reduces his ability to read the National Post. That's the power of the window seat, my friend--learn it, live it, love it.

It is now 10 minutes before noon (or 8:50am in Vancouver). The plane slowly descends, offering a nice view of UBC and downtown. The sky is clear, save for a few clouds, and the sun is largely unobstructed. This is Vancouer-in-the-summer weather, and I am ecstatic about the next five days that I'll spend here. Soon, I will be back home with a few surprises in store :-) Here's to safe trips, fair weather, good company, and pleasant surprises for many years to come.

Your Favorite Jerk


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