10 February 2010
3:00 am ~ although the alarm is set for 5:00 am, I lie in bed awake crossing off items on my mental checklist. Today I leave for Vancouver: headed to the Olympics and headed toward my Journalism Dream, courtesy of The Globe and Mail. I give up the pretence of sleeping at 3:45 am and head for the shower. There is still a lot to do before the car arrives to take my husband and I to the airport for our 9:00 am flight.
5:40 am ~ in an almost ironic gesture, mother nature gifted Toronto with our first major snow fall and while in previous years an accumulation of 4 inches wouldn’t be particularly special, this year it is the most flaky precipitation we have seen. Before sunrise the neighbourhood looks eerily beautiful covered in a blanket of snow. Vancouver has experienced warmer than usual temperatures. Flowers are blooming and grass to lovely and green. Olympic Games organizers resorted to Plan B in mid-January and closed Cypress Mountain in an attempt to preserve the existing base of powder. They have also been using the past many weeks to fortify the course with bales of hay, dump trucks full of snow and snow brought in by helicopter from higher altitudes.
5:45 am ~ the car to the airport was to have been here five minutes ago. This is not good. Those guys are always much earlier than called for. I start to experience something akin to panic. The husband is out pacing the sidewalk looking for a vehicle that appears lost. I call the dispatch office and am reassured the driver is only a few minutes away. The weather is slowing things down.
5:55 am ~ still no car. Something akin to panic now makes room for full-on anxiety. I call the dispatch office again. The gentleman puts me on hold while he contacts the driver. He comes back on the line and sheepishly tells me the driver turned around and headed back to the garage. Something is wrong with the car. I ask as to how quickly a replacement will be sent. Dispatch, after checking my address for the fourth time says “We have no cars in the area, why don`t you take a cab?” Durr!! I bite my tongue and hold back on releasing a stream of unhelpful yet sure to be good feeling expletives. If it weren`t for the fact that we live in the country and don`t have access to cab service I would not now be controlling my hyperventilating.
6:00 am – in a move becoming less and less familiar with each new technological gadget I acquire, I pull out the Yellow Pages. A, Ab…Air conditioning… Airport Taxi…. I find a phone number for an airport taxi service that is the closest to our home. A kindly woman answers my call and I am reassured a car can be at our door in ten minutes. I breathe a hesitant sigh of something that is not quite relief.
6:25 am – no sign of newly arranged airport taxi. I call my lovely new friend back. “Well he should be there.” she tells me. Suddenly I hear a sound more familiar on the streets of New York City than in the small country hamlet we call home. It’s husband. He has spotted the taxi and let loose with an impressive whistle. Good morning neighbours, in case you overslept today!
6:30 am – We load into into the car, luggage in the trunk and are finally headed southbound for Pearson Airport.
7:10 am – While a little behind schedule we arrive safely. Our flight is on time. The airport is bustling and people everywhere are sporting their Olympic finery. Coats, hats sweatshirts; it is a sea of support for our athletes before we even get off the ground. I am travelling with a cane. An Air Canada representative notices husband and I and suggests, rather than wait in the long line up, we should check-in at the special assistance desk. I tell her I think we are okay but she gives a conspiratorial nod and explains that the waits are long and we could be served much quicker at the AS desk. Before I can thank her husband has beetled towards the fast-track lane. While busy and hectic, each AC staff member we encounter is friendly and helpful. We breeze through check-in and head for our departure gate. Security is moving steadily and we get through this screening equally fast.
7:40 am – sitting at the gate. It is still looking rather stormy and raw outside. Our flight reamains on schedule and more happy AC people announce they would like to thank all of the athletes, support staff and their families for flying with them today. WHA?? Quickly my head snaps left and right. “Who is on our flight”, I wonder? Surely there can’t be athletes travelling so close to competition time. With that thought come and gone I catch sight of a new trio of dudes just arrived to our departure gate. They look suspiciously like bobsledders. I kick myself for not spending more time reading every Canadian athlete’s profile on the official Vancouver 2010 web site. I have spent a lot of time there, but clearly not enough. I won`t be able to verify my hunch until after landing in Vancouver. I also notice Tina Srebotnjak waiting to board. She hosts Imprint, a great book show, on TVOntario. Canada, books, me!! Ahhh. This day is getting better and better. She catches me smiling and returns the gesture. Thanks Tina!
8:30 am – we are on time and begin boarding. We got lucky with our seats and enjoy the extra legroom offered by our row 18 seats. We are in the first row of coach class. Immediately in front of us are the “pod” seating. They look like a perfect way to enjoy a 4 1/2 hour flight but we have done really well getting the extra leg room with our seats.
9:00 am – the captain announces that, due to the poor weather conditions, we will be delayed 10 to 15 minutes as the plane requires deicing before take-off. We trundle along and our plane takes its place in line.
10:10 am – while not quite the fifteen minutes predicted, we are finally headed for the runway. Woo-hoo! We are up, up and away.
10:30 am – having your own personal viewing monitor is so great. I scroll through the menu, curious about which movies are available. I get very happy when I see Ricky Gervais’s recent film The Invention of Lying. Gervais can make me pee my pants with laughter yet also manages to somehow elicit the same response due to discomfort – I am never sure how far he is going to push a joke. I don’t know why I question this. He always pushes it THAT far. This is the genius of Ricky Gervais.
10:35 am – while the film previews roll, I am find my brain wondering about. I am still in disbelief my entry in The Globe and Mail’s Journalism Dream contest has gotten my butt in this seat, with husband beside me. I have butterflies of excitement and moths of anxiety. I have so many people who supported me in my quest to do well that I am worried about letting family and friends down. I know I am being silly but having the upcoming responsibilities of coming up with interesting ideas, writing and filing of said interesting tidbits of Olympic entertainment with a Globe editor, and meeting tight deadlines has brought on the moths. I will do my very best and hope it is to the liking of my boss. Shoot. I haven’t had a boss in more than ten years. My tolerance for stupid has heightened dramatically in this time. It is low. Very, very low. I make a mental note to bite my tongue, should the occasion arise. Not that I am expecting stupidity, it is “The Globe and Mail” after all. However, being hugely out of practice in reporting to an official boss, the stupidity could come from me! No, not really…oh, wait, I do have that nervous talking and inappropriate comments thing that happens sometimes? Ach, it will all be swell. I won’t let you down!!
More to come…links, photos, the rest of a day. Here’s a little teaser though: