Sunday, April 23, 2017

The Story Not Told

At 32-years old, my daughter Talia has mostly stopped rolling her eyes when I talk. Except for one circumstance. Whenever I tell a bad travel story.

So in honor of her perception that these are the most boring first-world-problem stories ever, I’m going to show remarkable restraint and not burden the reader with my tale of awakening at 4:30 am in the Carmel Valley, driving two-and-a-half hours to the airport and settling myself in Seat 2D in an unexpected Business Class with an enticing new book that I couldn’t find in San Francisco, but picked up at the airport, one copy left. I won’t go into the details of how that opening promise of a seamless and pleasant journey to Edmonton suddenly went horribly bad when the Customs guy in Calgary told me to go to Secondary Inspection because I answered honestly on the form that the purpose of travel was business. I won’t describe how I knew that it was perfectly legal for me to teach many groups of children from different schools gathered together in a special Children’s Day, but suffice it to say, I’ve been down the road to Secondary Inspection too many times before (and always in Canada! Great country! Horrible Immigration Officers!) and knew that I didn’t belong there. No need to get into my worry that with 45 minutes until my next flight took off that I might miss it because of this bureaucratic bullshit and missing it would mean my luggage would go without me and the person picking me up at the airport would be confused and I’d have to re-book another flight and it would generally be a big pain in the ass. And I won’t mention how being told I would be called when the officer was ready and I was number three and I saw two people go before me and suddenly there are five available officers just chatting away with each other and when I went back to the guy at the desk and suggested that perhaps that they could be a bit more sensitive to my pressing timetable, especially since I knew I didn’t belong there, one of them got offended and brought me over and started pulling up all past entries to Canada and looked at my contract on the computer and told me that if I was going to one school, I’d need a work permit and I told him I knew that and these kids were coming from many schools and I know perfectly well I don’t need one and he told me that they (for there was a group now) would be the judge of that and then they all ganged up on me for daring to question someone in a uniform and disrespecting them and it concerned them when I told them that the last time this happened last year in Toronto, an immigration officer just told me to lie next time and that they couldn’t answer for that officer, but lying to them would be a serious offense and I pointed out that’s why I was so honest putting down “business” and look where it got me. No, I certainly don’t want to go into that. And I know it’s not that interesting to hear that finally after many faked apologies on my side, the officer said he used to be a music major and what instrument did I play and now we were supposed to be buddy-buddy, but God forbid they admit I had actually been right that I didn’t belong there and they regretted any inconvenience it would cost me. And I’m sure that no one is waiting on the edge of their seat to hear that I rushed to Information and she wrote down the gate number for my flight and assured me I’d be able to make it in time, but then again, she didn’t see the long, slow line at Security. And how boring it would be to hear that I walked fast to the gate and 45 seconds away, heard my name paged and ran to the gate only to find it closed and no one behind the desk and I started pounding on the doors to no response and frantically looking around for someone official to help me and finally spotted someone at Gate 53 and ran over there and she said, “Ah, this is your flight. You’re the last one” and so no time to write back to the person who was going to pick me up (who I had written to while held hostage in Secondary Inspection to warn her not to go to the airport until further notice), so she would either have seen my message and stayed at home or read it at the airport or not read it and just been there. Had I told this fascinating story, I’m sure the reader, often envious of my travels, would have been secretly pleased to find out that my luggage didn’t arrive because I was supposed to pick it up in Calgary and re-check it even though no one ever to my knowledge told me that, so now I had to go to Baggage Claim Services and my ride indeed was not there and I didn’t know the name of the hotel I’d be staying in to send the bags to and this guy was nicer than the entire Canadian Immigration Officer population and called my ride on the phone so I got the hotel details and was able to tell her I actually arrived so that 20 minutes later, she picked me up (without my luggage, which may or may not arrive tonight) and drove me to the hotel. Oh, and I also would have mentioned it was snowing. On April 23rd.

I am so proud of myself for not telling that story! And, dear reader, eat your heart out! I’m a traveling music teacher having fun in all the world’s exotic places! 

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