31 December 2009

Curse You, Red Baron!

It appears I have lost my mobile. And before you say, "AGAIN?", let me remind you that last time I didn't lose it; it was stolen. Also, let me say that this time the whole thing is mysterious. I had the phone in my pocket as I walked down the street at 7pm, and the next time I checked for it (two days later), it had vanished. And I wasn't pick-pocketed. My hypothesis is that it fell out on the train; my hope is that it's somewhere in the house and will yet be found; my determination is that the phone I buy to replace it will be cheap. In fact, I've just spent half an hour looking at replacement phones, in the process of which I discovered that Vodafone, who are The Devil, are a cheaper devil than my other options. Unfortunately, if you realise you've lost your phone at 5pm American time on New Year's Eve, which falls on a Thursday, you can't do anything about it until January 2, so there seems to be no way to arrange to have a phone waiting for me when I return. Although I think I will be able to set everything up so I can go
out and buy the phone when I arrive in WhereIlive, then just ring them and have it all taken care of.

But this is not what I wanted to write of. I realised after I wrote this morning that I forgot to describe my travel odyssey. Although it wasn't really an odyssey - more of an exercise in stasis.

Everything was fine until I hit Toronto International Airport. I even got to catch up on my film watching by seeing District 9 on the plane (a depressing movie, but good). Once I got to Toronto, though, it was a nightmare. Someone just tried to blow up a plane, so security was increased, which is fair. And I have nothing against being subjected to increased security measures, either. But, argh, did it take TIME. First of all, it took about an hour to get through Customs. Somehow I got behind a huge group of Germans: presumably a flight from Germany
had just arrived. All these people needed, as per the recent regulations, have their hands or thumbs scanned and recorded. Of course, given that this is the advanced digital age, all the sensitive scanning machines kept reading wrong, or reading too quickly, so the passengers had to scan all over again. As a result, I stood in the queue for an hour (although just once I considered saying to the nearby guard, "I'm an American: can't I go first because it'll be quick?" But I considered that I've spent the last 18 months insisting I was German, and I couldn't commit such an act of hypocrisy. Also, it wouldn't have worked).

But that hour was as nothing compared to the queue for security. There I stood for nigh on two hours. We weren't brutalised, and I even got to speak some German with the German family behind me, but the sheer boredom was crushing. We stood, and we stood, and we stood, and what seemed like once every ten minutes a person would go through the magic door that led to the metal detector, and all the rest of us would extract from that a tiny drop of hope that someday it would be our turn, too.

Then, finally, it was. And I went through the metal detector, and...I went off. I thought, They're going to take me into the little room! but, no, all was not lost. In fact, nothing was lost. All that happened was that I got a full body pat down like everybody else, which offered a nice opportunity for me to chat with the pat down woman about how, precisely, one pats down for maximum effectiveness and bodily delicacy simultaneously, and I had my bag searched, which has happened to me twice before. There, too, I got into an interesting discussion, this time with the girl who searched the bag, and who was very interested in my books. We got to talking, and one way and another it turned out that she had terrible trouble with her writing. Of course she did, because this is my life, and that's exactly the sort of thing that happens to me. So she told me her specific problem (just discomfort, really), and I suggested a solution (write a little every day), as well as some words of general wisdom ("Good writing involves the fewest number of words necessary, plus adjectives. But that means all the words you do leave in have to be vivid!"), and we parted with me remarking that "It's a pity. I wish we had an hour together, because then I could really help you." Which was a true wish, but under different circumstances.

And all this time there was no water.

Nonetheless, I made it to my plane! Because it was also delayed. And on the plane I had a glass of water, and when I arrived here I had a raging headache.

Now, as I said, I have no problem with these security measures (although some chairs wouldn't go amiss). But standing there in these queues I did think to myself that if I had come to the U.S. as a foreigner on vacation and experienced this, I would never come again. It may be the greatest country in the world, but it must be the worst country to get into (or perhaps second worst, after Israel). In addition, I vowed that I would get to the airport three to four hours early for my flight out, because "I am going to WhereIlive to see my friends, and I will get on the plane EVEN IF I HAVE TO QUEUE UP ALL NIGHT." And wouldn't you know it, this morning in the paper there was an article about how airlines are terrified that there will be no holiday flyers, and another in which it was suggested that passengers arrive at the airport at least an hour before they normally would. Bring it on, 4 January! (when there's also supposed to be snow, by the way) You will not stop me from doing everything in my power to return to WhereIlive: I will be like the postman.

Not that I'm not having a lovely time, even despite the phone thing. My mother bought me a beautiful coat with which we're both very pleased, and tonight I will wear it to the New Year's Eve milonga.

Happy New Year, reader!

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