Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Another Day, Another Flight: YVR-YYZ

Poster at Vancouver YVR International Airport
8:45 AM:
     While I put together the next post detailing Session 3 of the IRONMEN Adventure Weekend, I thought I'd beginning pen this interval post as I sit at gate C52 at Vancouver YVR, waiting the boarding call for my flight to Toronto. It's been quite a hectic morning, having slept at 1 AM and woken at 4:15 for my flight. at 7  It's been interesting as I've been wandering around the airport after check-in; airports are always interesting places to observe people and think. As people hurry for departures, rush for connecting flights, pour in from arrivals and meet those waiting for them, I find myself wondering who they might be, what they might be coming from and going to, and thinking about what their stories might be. Were they heading to sad or happy occasions? Some might be heading to weddings (perhaps even their own), funerals, reunions, or just routine flights on business or work. I wondered how many of them might be grieving or sorrowing inside, had stopped to contemplate their lives, or wonder about God. Airports and airplanes definitely seems to give one much occasion to think about the unfathomable mysteries of the universe in a way that the routine office commute does not - for example, how did the powers that be come up with acronyms such as YVR for Vancouver and YYZ for Toronto? I don't understand how "YYZ" is supposed to map to "Toronto" in the human mind...

    I also took photos of some interesting sculptures that decorated various terminals that I passed by while walking to mine. The sculpture of "The Flying Traveller" reflected how I felt today morning. I usually have my bags packed well in advance, and leave enough time to get to the airport, taking things at a pace that is most comfortable for me. They say there is always a first time for everything; today was that day, which is why this sculpture and its inscription resonated so well with me.
Inuit art display at one of YVR's domestic flight terminals
"The Flying Traveler" - this is what I felt like today morning
     Everything seemed to be going so well as the day started off. I was almost completely packed by midnight of the night before, and in bed by 1 AM. As I drifted off to sleep, I noted some minor things to be done after waking up at 4:15 - make my morning tea to fill my thermos with, print out my ticket details, check and store my ID and pack my laptop into my carry-on backpack. The taxi that I had booked for my ride to the airport was due to arrive at 5 AM, and dutifully called at 4:50 to let me know that he was waiting downstairs. We set off just a minute or two after 5, and at that time of morning, had a traffic-free and uneventful ride to the airport, reaching there well ahead of time at 5:30. Having paid, I cheerfully sauntered into YVR, went up to the WestJet automated check-in machine...and froze. That sickening feeling in the pit of the stomach of being in free-fall stole over me as I realized that I had forgotten my travel ID - my passport and other documents were at home.

    Panicking, I checked my wallet. No photo ID. Apocalyptic visions of one of an airline traveler's worst nightmares - a missed flight - swam before my eyes. Thinking almost on auto-pilot, I called the taxi driver and explaining the situation, asked him to swing around and drive me back home. In the meantime, I ran up to two WestJet service personnel and explained my situation. By this time, I had mentally prepared myself to accept the inevitable - that with all the solo travelling that I had done, for the first time in my life, I was going to miss a flight. What was that saying about the best laid plans?

    The staff told me that if I could make it home and back by 6:30, I could just make it. Looking at my watch, that seemed to be a quickly-fading possibility, which only seemed less realistic as the taxi drove me back home. Halfway there, I called WestJet, cancelled my booking for my flight and asked for a seat on the next available flight. With that done, I sat and digested the financial consequences that were staring me in the face over one small error - the mounting expenses of a cancellation fee and taxi fare for three trips between home and the airport - not a small amount. I can feel the twinge as I right this...

    Looking at the small Boeing that will be my confines at 529 mph and 37,000 feet for the next four-and-a-half hours on the flight to Toronto, I don't find it terribly comforting. It looks so small compared to the Air Canada plane at the gate across from it. Smaller planes are also bumpier when hitting turbulence...but I think I should be grateful for God's providence that I'm alive, well and boarding my flight. Speaking of which, I hear the boarding call. Time to go!

Westjet Flight 712 - Boarding Calls!
9:43 PM:
    Well, this end to the day is coming to you from my parents' house in Mississauga. It's been a simultaneously frustrating, difficult, exhausting, expensive, happy and satisfying day filled with a lot of lessons to mull over. It's good to see the family again after more than a year, and on the eve of my parent's wedding anniversary. I hope to have the final post of the IRONMEN Adventure Weekend ready and up by tomorrow. Until then, goodnight and God bless!

P.S: Events like these remind me why the post script for this blog reads '"The story of a fool, who fell in love with Wisdom". If anyone reading this has similar horror stories of monstrous blunders they or others have committed on their airline travels and lessons that they have learned, please feel free to share them here. I promise to be an understanding and sympathetic listener :)

- The Wisdom Seeker