Accountability Tuesdays – Week 34

Fellow bloggers, do you ever peruse the spam section of your comments folder? I’ve been flipping through there lately whilst permanently deleting them, and I’ve got to say it’s quite a riot. The spelling and grammatical errors, the blatant inability to properly speak English, the giant walls of Chinese character text, the ceaseless waves of adds trying to sell me things like Viagra. It’s really quite amusing. That said, thank the makers of WordPress that the spam filter on this site seems to work really, really well. I think if I had to put up with all this stuff popping up in my main comments folder every day I would absolutely lose my mind. πŸ˜›

Okay then, let’s get on with it!

Health and Body Image Goal

Last week was the very embodiment of “sitting on the fence”, wavering between healthfulness and the exact opposite of thus. See, last week my husband, our daughter, and I went on a shopping trip. We traveled one province over to Fredericton, New Brunswick and shopped for two days straight…then we drove backwards a little to Moncton and shopped for another day…and then drove all the way back to Halifax and shopped for another day before finally heading home in the late hours of the night. Now the thing about four straight days of shopping is that it involves a lotΒ of walking (healthful), and in our case also a lot of carrying the baby around because she’s a lazy little bugger (healthful to everything except my back). By all rights, by the end of that trip I should have lost about five pounds, that’s how much “exercise” I got. Ah, but then there’s the other part of a four-day shopping trip away from home…fast food. Yeah. I believe we had a healthy breakfast on two of those days, and an actual restaurant supper on one of them. Everything else was Tim Hortons coffee and donuts, Taco Bell Big Box Meals, and A&W Chubby Chicken Wraps. It goes without saying that no, I didn’t lose any weight while I was on this trip.

In other news, however, the leak in our basement that I mentioned in yesterday’s post – along with the overwhelming stench of cat urine that I couldn’t seem to locate the origins of – led me to began scouring down the basement yesterday. I’ve got it clean almost back to the pellet stove, which (you’ll have to trust me on this one) was a good bit of work. I have some more to do throughout this week, but the point is that soon I’ll have my basement back in working order and cleared of all the junk that we’ve been tossing down there, and I’ll be able to start exercising down there again. That’s not to say that I will (I’m a terribly fickle person, you see), but that’s my intention. Those of you who pray, please pray for me to have some motivation, please and thanks.

Editing Goal

This one stands exactly where it stood last week. I’m still transcribing my notebooks (they seriously feel as though they’re never going to end), and through this am also editing as I type. By all rights I should be working on editing my zombie apocalypse since that was the original subject of this goal, but these notebooks are another distraction like the supernatural romance was – I feel like if I don’t get them out of the way I won’t be able to focus on my apocalypse. It’s really quite frustrating. Sometime in the future I have to figure out how to better organize myself. I’m the very stereotype of the scatterbrained writer who can’t keep track of anything they do.

1,000,000 Word Goal

Because of the aforementioned shopping trip, I didn’t exactly have a lot of time to write this week. It’s not an excuse, it’s an explanation. The trip had a purpose, one which we achieved gloriously in my opinion, so that’s all there is to it. Despite this distraction which tore me away from my writing, however, I did manage to pluck out 11418 words. Most of that was morning pages, but there’s a bit of blogging and transcription in there as well.

And with that, I have a mini-goal for myself. My best week yet was somewhere in the range of 24,000. This week I’m going to try to break 30,000. That’s over 4200 words per day. It will be very difficult, I think, but all the transcription I have to do will surely help me. Wish me luck!

Tea-riffic…(Haha, I’m So Clever)

We all have our weaknesses, our little addictions. About a year and a half ago, while doing some shopping in Halifax with my inlaws, I discovered one of mine. I had noticed this store before, but never bothered to go inside. This time I ventured in and promptly stared in confusion at the giant wall of shiny, silver canisters plastered with labels of black, white, red, green, yellow, blue, brown, and purple. I was a little flabbergasted, I admit, but the staff were almost unbelievably helpful, and after examining a couple of the canisters and feeling more than a little silly while sniffing at them, I left the store with my first packet of David’s Tea.

Those who follow my Twitter feed know that the day I just described resulted in a bit of an addiction. A lack of the stores near where I live keeps me from spending my life savings, but a location in the Toronto airport has allowed me to pick up a pack here, a pack there whenever I’m travelling to and from work, and I managed to bully my husband into picking me up a couple of containers for Christmas this year. My addiction has been well-supplied.

As I have quite a wealth of experience with the flavors of David’s Tea at this point, I thought it was about time I share some information on what I’ve tried, what I love, and what I suggest.

(And now seems like a good time to mention that I am in no way affiliated with David’s Tea, nor are they paying me in any manner. These are just the opinions of a very satisfied customer!)

Customer Service:
This may seem like a funny thing to start with, but I really felt the need to share my level of satisfaction with the customer service at David’s Tea. I’ve only visited three different locations, but I’ve dealt with approximately ten different employees, plus a customer service rep from their website, and I’ve thus far had nothing but good experiences. I’m sure that somewhere, at some David’s Tea location, there is probably a disgrunted brat of an employee who huffs their days away, but I’ve not come across one myself. Every employee I’ve dealt with has been extremely cheery, helpful, and friendly. They’ve helped me (and my husband) pick out teas, expressed their opinions and preferences, asked about my own preferences and made suggestions based on those, encouraged me to examine and sniff the teas, offered free samples, and in general just treated me as though I was a friend. Two employees in particular (both of whom work at the Toronto Pearson Airport location) happily take the time to ask me about my day and my travel plans while scooping up my tea. It’s just very calming and refreshing to have a happy face smiling at me and treating me well while I’m picking out my purchases. I’ve dealt with enough rude, ignorant cashiers and customer service reps to be able to really appreciate the nice ones, so keep it up DT employees!

Accessories:
It may seem a little silly, but part of what makes the tea so great for me is the accessories. Two months ago I purchased one of David’s Perfect Tea Mugs and I couldn’t be happier. It’s a clear mug (so you can watch your tea steep) and a very fine mesh steeping basket. There is also a cover which doubles as a saucer to put the basket in once your tea has finished steeping. I positively love it, and the basket is wide enough that it is fairly easy to clean by hand. By comparison we also have the David’s Tea by Bodum travel mug. At first I liked this one, and I do still like it for traveling, but it has a fatal flaw…it’s a royal pain in the arse to clean. The mug itself is long and thin on the inside, and the mesh filter that is meant to push your tea leaves out of the way tends to get gunked up pretty badly. The combination of these two issues pretty much demands that it be washed by a dishwasher; by hand just isn’t going to work. Since I spend so much time out West where I have only a small sink to clean my things in, this doesn’t work well for me.

In addition to the Perfect Mug, I’ve also purchased one of their Perfect Spoons. Basically it’s just a pre-sized spoon that measures out the exact amount that most David’s Tea recipes suggest (1.5 tsp), but it is awesome in its simplicity. I make a perfect cup of tea every time with its help.

OMG, the Actual Tea:
I’ll be honest, I’m up to about 30 different varieties at this point, and I’ve loved almost all of them. That may just mean I’m a tea maniac, I’m not sure. But for the sake of sharing, I’ll talk about a few of my favorites, and one in particular that I didn’t enjoy.

It’s difficult to choose an absolute favorite, but pretty high up on the list is Amaretto. One of the teas my husband got me for Christmas, this concoction of Lapaco, almond, apricot kernels, orange blossoms, rose blossoms, and flavoring smells exactly like a bottle of Disarona Amaretto. That is to say, it smells delicious. Seriously, I could just sit there and sniff the tin. But then, I’m a little looney. As far as flavor, it is a little weaker than some of the other teas, but when brewed a little strong it also tastes quite a lot like Disarona, only hot and without the alcohol content. Depending on your preferences, that could be an upside or a downside. I’ll let you decide, but for the record, for me it’s instant love.

Also high on the list is Strawberry Rhubarb Parfait. The mix of apple, hibiscus, raisins, carrot, yogurt bits, strawberry, rhubarb, and flavoring may be a little tart for some people, but to me it’s a delicious treat that makes me feel like I’ve had dessert. The best part? If you forget about it and it gets cold, it just ends up tasting like strawberry juice!

The last one that I’ll mention (before I end up giving you a blow-by-blow of every flavor I’ve ever bought) is Dragon Pearls. I was first attracted to this green tea simply because it seemed so neat…each of the “pearls” is hand-rolled from green tea leaves scented with jasmine flowers. As the tightly rolled little balls steep, they unroll (showing you just how meticulously miniaturized they really were) and release a very soothing scent. When I actually tasted it for the first time, I melted. Green tea is not for everyone, I know, especially not without some kind of addition such as honey, but personally I find Dragon Pearls to be incredibly calming and delicious. It is the kind of tea I would enjoy with some warm biscuits and butter. (Damn it, now I’m seriously craving some biscuits and butter…)

Now, to be fair, I have tried one tea that I did not enjoy at all. That one is Super Ginger. I bought it as a trial pack of teas meant to help when you’re suffering from a variety of ills. This mixture of ginger, green rooibos, pink peppercorns, black and white pepper, and flavoring is supposed to be a soothing cold remedy, but I had a seriously difficult time forcing it down. I found the overall flavor very spicy in an unpleasant way. It may have helped burn the cold out of me, but it wasn’t worth the cringing horror I felt whenever it was time to take a gulp. Better luck next time, DT.

So there you have it: yays and nays. But mostly yays. πŸ˜› Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a delicious hot cup of Cookie Dough tea to imbibe.

Airport Rage

I used to tell people that I’d never travel anywhere far because you’d never get me on an airplane. I was terrified of the things. I figured you wouldn’t get me past the gate without landing yourself a large pile of vomit to clean up. I held on to that belief until my 28th year. My first ever trip on an airplane brought me out west for work. It wasn’t a choice to step on that plane; it was a financial necessity. Surprisingly I found that airplanes don’t bother me at all, at least not as far as my stomach is concerned. Traveling by plane, however, has brought to my attention a host of other issues that bother me a great deal, and because that’s the way I roll, I’m going to share some of them with you today.

Plane Peeve #1: The lack of space
I know that this is a common complaint amongst all airline customers who can’t afford first class, but until I began traveling via plane myself I never really understood the true insanity that is the lack of space in airplane seats. For those of you who may have never traveled via plane, let me paint you a picture. I am 5’1″ tall and approximately 155 lbs. A lot of my weight is also muscle, so the woman you are now imagining is probably thicker of body than I am in reality. I’m not saying I’m a skinny bitch (not by a long shot), but I am not a large woman. I’m short and small, and in other words I don’t take up much space. But when I’m in an airplane chair I feel like I’m obese. Even if people of similar size sit next to me, and we all try to take up as little room as possible, chances are our arms are going to be touching for most of the flight. And that doesn’t even consider the leg room, which for most people is effectively non-existent. I’ve had flights where I was getting kicked in the spine every ten minutes just because the person behind me was uncomfortable and needed to shift a bit. This kind of thing is annoying at best, but when your flight is several hours long it becomes a very difficult test of your patience.

Plane Peeve #2: The lack of food
Admittedly, this one depends on the airline, so for the sake of this post I’m going to talk about the worst offender: Air Canada. I’ve been on a lot of Air Canada planes over the past four months. And in those four months I’ve gotten exactly two free snacks, both tiny bags of pretzels that my toddler would have wolfed down in 2.4 seconds. And both of those were on flights from Sydney to Halifax, which for anyone who doesn’t know, is only a 45 minute flight. On my longer flights, the ones ranging from 2 hours to 5.5 hours, I received nothing and was expected to purchase food if I was hungry. I know, I know, some of you are probably saying, “Dear lord, you poor thing, having to pay for food” in a terribly sarcastic voice, but consider something for a moment: my flights are costing my company somewhere in the range of $1000 per one-way trip…..at $1000 a pop, you’d think Air Canada could afford a freakin’ candy bar or something.

Plane Peeve #3: Seat-Swappers
Okay, here’s the thing: if you’re booking a flight and you want to choose which seat you’re going to be sitting in, you have to pay a fee. I don’t know what the fee is with other airlines, but with Air Canada it’s something like $30. A silly fee, really, but if you’re already spending several hundred dollars on the plane ticket that extra $30 isn’t going to break the bank. And yet, on almost every plane I’ve been on thus far, there has been at least one parent with a kid who refused to pay the fee in order to ensure that the two of them would be sitting together, and then went around the crowd during boarding to try and convince some sucker to swap seats with them. I hate this. For one thing, if you want to make sure you and your child are sitting together, pay the damn fee like everyone else who wants to choose their seat ahead of time. For another thing, you’re holding up production, trying to convince strangers to do you a favor while a line of people behind you are trying to get to their seats. Oh, and one more thing…these parents always get PO’ed when the stranger says no, without considering the fact that this person probably paid the fee to choose the seat you’re asking them to leave. Just…just smarten up, people.

Plane Peeve #4: Overbooking
I don’t think I’ll ever be able to understand why or how this happens, but nearly every flight I’ve been on so far has been overbooked. First off, how the hell do you sell seats that don’t exist? There should be some kind of system put in place to stop this exact thing from happening. I know, I know, it’s probably the airline’s way of ensuring that as many seats as possible are filled if someone cancels or doesn’t show up, but it’s a sick and twisted way of going about such a thing, especially considering that most people don’t find out that they don’t actually have a seat until they show up for boarding. Just as bad as overbooking in the first place is how the airline goes about dealing with the issue if the person who doesn’t have a seat absolutely HAS to be on the plane…..that is, they ask for volunteers to give up their seat. The reward for giving up your seat and (maybe) leaving on a later flight? A $200 voucher for a later flight. Call me crazy if you wish, but I really don’t think $200 that you have to spend on the same airline is a fair exchange for giving up a seat that probably cost you three times that much in the first place, especially considering you have no real guarantee of getting on a later flight any time soon.

Plane Peeve #5: They just don’t give a rat’s backside
As I’ve mentioned more than once, I’ve had some pretty rotten luck with some of my flights thus far. I’ve had some pretty ungodly delays, missed connections because of delays in previous legs of a multi-segment flight, and I’ve had flights cancelled all together. And in each of these situations, Air Canada (oh look, them again) has given me the customer service equivalent of a shrug and a grunt. The most frustrating example I can give is when I was heading home on a re-booked flight after the night that my flight home from Alberta was cancelled due to thunderstorms. I had numerous issues with this particular excursion, but the most unbelievable was when my flight from Montreal to Halifax was delayed so long that I missed my connection from Halifax to Sydney. I asked an Air Canada representative what I should do and she told me to try to rebook on a later flight. I then explained that the next closest flight I could find would have me waiting in Halifax for over 24 hours, an amount of time during which I could easily drive the entire length of Nova Scotia three times. Obviously I wasn’t going to hang around in Halifax for over a day when I could rent a car and be home in 3-4 hours. The representative literally, and I mean literally shrugged at me. And that was the end of the conversation. She didn’t give a flying [expletive] whether I got to the end of my route or not, and felt no obligation to reimburse me in any way for the leg of the flight that I clearly wasn’t going to take. This is the exact same attitude I’ve dealt with every time I’ve had an issue (which has been all but one flight). I can’t speak for other airlines, but Air Canada couldn’t give two pinches of [expletive] about their customers, just so long as their seats have been paid for in full.

I’m not an angry person, I’m really not, but I feel that these are issues for which I am justified in feeling some level of rage. Disagree with me? Okay, whatever, I can’t make you see my point. But agree with me? Let me know! Share your horror stories! You know what they say: misery loves company. πŸ˜›

The Incredible Journey

Alternate title: Why Air Canada should be burned to the ground.

I have no more of a temper than the average person. I may even be inclined to say that my temper is a little more tempered (see what I did there?) than the average person’s. I’ve been known to let my emotions fly, but if you could see inside my brain you’d also see that a large percentage of my most violent rages were kept safely inside my imagination where they could do no one any harm (except possibly myself).

This past week can not be counted amongst that ‘large percentage’. This past week my rage grew in leaps and bounds, and those who were near me at the time got to hear some rather imaginative strings of profanity. It was all the result of the actions of a major airline that evidently enjoys seeing just how much they can cheese their customers off.

Air Canada: herein after known as The Devil’s Own Airline.

For those who don’t know, or who are just stumbling across this blog entry while surfing the web, expressing their own hatred for The Devil’s Own Airline, I currently work in the oil sands of Alberta, while still living back home in Nova Scotia. My shift is two weeks on, two weeks off, so every two weeks I’m flying 3/4 of the way across Canada, either heading out to work, or heading home. On the date in question, Tuesday July 31st, I was to head home, along with some 40 of my coworkers.

Now, the thing about “heading home” day is that the only flight we Eastern Canadians can get out of Fort McMurrary, that also coincides with bus schedules and the like, leaves Fort M at 12:20 am. If you’re like me and you sometimes screw up your am and pm when it comes to the 12s on the clock, that’s 20 minutes after midnight. While not nearly as big an issue as the others that would arise later, this is my first strike against Air Canada. I have it on good authority that many companies, my own included, have asked Air Canada to put more flights on out of Fort M, as these companies are shipping thousands of people back and forth across the country every week. Air Canada said…no. That was pretty much it. No. No, we evidently don’t want any extra business, thanks, we’re fine.

Whatever. I’m no business person, but…yeah. I’m not going to get into it.

Anyway, our flight leaves at 20 minutes past midnight. This is doubly unfortunate because the buses that ship us from camp to the airport (a 2 hour trip if the traffic is good) don’t run past 7 pm or so, so we are generally dropped off at the airport at about 6 pm. You math geniuses out there have figured it out, but for the rest of you that means my coworkers and I have a 6 hour wait before our plane leaves. Because of this extended wait, it has become a custom for many to travel down the road to the Nova hotel to hang out in their lounge, or else catch a taxi into town to find some food and/or drink. It’s a completely reasonable thing to do with a 6-hour wait time, but on this particular day it would prove to exacerbate our upcoming torments.

You see, only a few of my coworkers and I decided to stay at the airport…but those of us who did had decided to sit in the airport bar, have a bite to eat, and watch the London 2012 Olympics on their tvs. From this area of the airport we could neither see the Arrivals/Departures screen, nor could we hear any of the announcements being made over the loudspeakers. By the time one of the menΒ  happened to be walking to the washroom and glanced up at the flights screen it had been approximately two hours since our 12:20 am flight had been cancelled.

The next little while was, of course, panic. The man who’d noticed the cancellation immediately began calling everyone back from the hotel/restaurants/bars/etc that they’d run off to and very soon the airport was full of panicked and upset oil sands workers. My buddy ran back to the airport bar to get me and tell me what had happened, and for a moment I thought he was screwing with me. I generally fall for these sorts of things, you see, but I was in fine form tonight…until I looked up at the screen and saw the big red “Cancelled” for myself. Then my stomach dropped like a bag of bricks. I spent several minutes after that texting my husband while the wings I’d been eating worked black magic on my stomach and my coworkers tried to work out what the hell we were going to do.

As it turned out, Toronto airport (which was our first of several layovers) was experiencing some pretty nasty thunderstorms and everything had shut down. May I note here, for anyone who is not from Canada or has never flown before, that this is probably the worst airport that could have shut down. Toronto International is a major hub and I don’t think I’d be exaggerating to say that more than half of cross-country flights go through there. So it wasn’t just we lowly oil sands workers who had been caught with our pants down…it was half the country.

Now, thunderstorms aren’t exactly something an airport can control. No one is blaming The Devil’s Own Airline (or any other airline for that matter) for an “act of God”, as that would be foolish. No no…the blaming comes as a result of the series of events that occurred in relation to the thunderstorm issue.

First and foremost, as I imagine many of you would also do, my coworkers and I ran to the Devil’s Own Airline desk in the Fort M airport. Surely these people would be able to give us a few answers, tell us what we should be doing. Oh, how naive. Before we’d even found out that our flight (along with many, many others) had been cancelled, these nice ladies had had their computers locked out. Let me impress that point on you a little further: The Devil’s Own Airline actually blocked their own employees from being able to help paying customers whose flights had been cancelled. Literally, their computers would not let them do anything. The reasoning they gave had something to do with not knowing how long the storms would last, whether or not the planes would eventually be able to fly, and not wanting every customer to change their flight (thus possibly ending up with some empty planes). In other words, it was a financial decision. People all over the country were kept from obtaining any help with their cancelled flights because The Devil’s Own Airline didn’t want to inadvertently waste fuel on a not-full plane. Look at the tears I’m crying for them. ._.

So anyway, the desk ladies couldn’t help us. The only suggestion they could give was to either go to the “cancelled flights” page of the company’s website, or call the hotline. I checked the website immediately, via my iPhone, but when I gave my booking reference number the site quickly informed me that it had, like the desk attendants, been blocked. It began to seem to me, at this point, that The Devil’s Own Airline actually wanted us to all just sit around patiently and wait like good little paying drones. I am not patient. Just saying.

So it was now approximately 10:30 pm, and my 40+ coworkers and I were gathered in the airport, utilizing the only method left to us. That is, calling the hotline…along with the rest of the goddamn country. The first guy to get through – after approximately two hours on hold – was immediately swarmed by the rest of the crew, the idea being that he would pass the phone on after he got his flight re-booked. We were soon stymied again, however, as the call center attendants refused to let him do this. Their argument was that it was unfair to all the other people who were calling in and waiting on hold. Now, while I understand the reasoning behind this decision, it ignores a certain issue…this being that not all of us had cellphones. We were a two hour drive from camp, stuck in an airport with only one public phone, and approximately 20% of our crew didn’t have a cellphone. This meant that those without a phone would have to wait until those with a phone were done. Since the wait time on the hotline was approximately 2 hours, that meant that some of our crew had to wait 4 or even 6 hours before able to speak to a representative, by which time there were simply no possible flights left. How exactly is that fair?

By the end of the night (approximately 1 in the morning), about a third of our crew had weaseled their way onto a flight heading to Calgary (from where they had no idea where they were going to head next), about another third had managed to get new flights leaving the next day, and the other third were unable to get anything until Thursday evening or sometime Friday. Let me reiterate that: we had been driven to the airport on Tuesday evening and some of our crew had no chance of leaving Fort McMurray until Friday. All the time while on their days off.

My buddy and I were two of the lucky ones to get flights the next day, Wednesday. Our original flight would have been from Fort M to Toronto, then to Halifax, and for me to Sydney. Our new flight had us going from Fort M to Calgary, then to Montreal, and after an extended wait we’d be on to Halifax and Sydney. The new bookings would take us twice as long as our original ones, but by the time our 2:30 pm flight was drawing near we had heard a million and one worse horror stories. The boys who had flown to Calgary the night before had gotten stuck there. A few boys were getting home to New Brunswick that day, but were landing on the wrong side of the province and would have to drive a rental several hours just to get to their vehicles, after which they’d have to drive several more hours to get home. And some terribly, terribly unlucky guys had decided to stay at the Nova hotel and try calling the hotline in the morning…their laid-back attitude got them stuck in Fort McMurray until Saturday. Saturday. So all in all, my buddy and I were feeling pretty lucky as we made a beeline for our 2:30 flight.

As we were boarding our flight to Calgary, however, I heard the first of what would turn out to be a number of vexing situations: our flight had been overbooked…by ten people. This amazes me still. How do you sell 10 seats that have already been sold? Needless to say, 10 people didn’t make it onto the plane. I can only imagine how those people must have felt, especially if they had been one of the many people who had already had to rebook their flight due to the thunderstorms. But the best part? Even if they’d been sitting in the airport all day, waiting for the flight, these people only found out they weren’t getting on their plane when the plane started boarding. They didn’t tell them until the last possible minute. The only thing I can figure is that The Devil’s Own Airline was hoping that 10 people simply wouldn’t show up, allowing these people to fill the plane…I doubt that train of thought comforts the 10 people who didn’t get on the flight that they paid for and were waiting all day to get on.

So my buddy and I made it to Calgary. Calgary was fairly uneventful, but I will say this: after a three-hour wait for our connecting flight, not only was the plane delayed by almost an hour because the flight attendants hadn’t shown up yet, but the plane was goddamn overbooked by 8 people! Now I was starting to be amazed. Again, I ask, how the hell do you sell seats that are already sold?! If this is common business practice, I want to spit on the face of The Devil’s Own Airline’s CEO. Flying standby is one thing, but you can’t sell people tickets showing that they’re getting on a damn plane and then tell them that they can’t get on the damn plane because you sold them non-existent tickets!

On to Montreal we went, and a 7 hour wait through the middle of the night. Fun times, those. Trying to sleep in airport seats is an amazing experience, really. You should all try it. [/sarcasm]

As a quick side note that has nothing to do with The Devil’s Own Airline, the security check employees in the Montreal airport take their jobs way too seriously. The girl at the front of the baggage scanner gave me the most evil eye I’d ever experienced when I asked her to speak English. The guy at the end of the baggage scanner opened every single pocket on my purse and laptop bag and rifled through every single item, bending up all my boarding passes and knocking a couple of makeup items to the floor, without so much as a grunt at me. Finally, the “random-check” guy grabbed my buddy and practically shoved him in the full-body x-ray, without ever explaining to him that he has the right to be patted down instead. All in all, we felt rather abused by the time we got to our gate.

Moving on with the exploits of The Devil’s Own Airline: after having a 7 hour wait, during which our gate was unexpectedly changed to be as far away from where we were as humanly possible, our plane was delayed by an hour because the pilot hadn’t shown up. Okay, sure, whatever, par for the course. But then it was delayed for another hour because the pilot still hadn’t shown up. Okay, now we’re starting to wonder how a pilot just doesn’t show up for his flight. But okay, we’re waiting, we’re waiting. I’m starting to get concerned because it’s going to be tight to catch my connection to Sydney, but we’re waiting.

Then our flight was delayed for three more hours. Because a new pilot was being flown in from halfway across the country. At this point the rage was palpable. Almost no one on that flight was actually going to Halifax. Almost everyone had connections to different places, most notably a couple who were heading to a wedding in Saint John’s, Newfoundland, and now had absolutely no chance of making it in time for the nuptials. Myself, I was now officially going to miss my connection flight from Halifax to Sydney. When I mentioned this to the lady at the gate desk her reaction was to shrug a little and tell me that I’d have to rebook that flight. As I’d already had to do this once, and it had required a two hour wait on hold, I decided to check the airline’s website to see if there were even any flights available. What I found was that the next flight I could get, that actually had some seats left, didn’t leave Halifax until approximately 28 hours after I would get there. For those who don’t know, you can drive the entire length of Nova Scotia in about 8-9 hours. I could have driven from Halifax to Sydney and back again twice and would still have a couple of hours to wait for my flight. As it turns out, my buddy had a van waiting in Halifax and was driving most of the way toward where I live, so he offered to drive me. I accepted and all was well, but that doesn’t make it better. For all intents and purposes, The Devil’s Own Airline stole money from my company by forcing me to miss my connection and being both unable and unwilling to help me get a new flight in a reasonable amount of time.

After that most recent delay, the gate attendant started handing out meal vouchers “for our trouble”. Guess how much money was on them? Ten bucks. Ten bucks, for being delayed half the waking day and missing our connecting flights during a time when it’s impossible to book new ones. Thanks guys. We really appreciated it, seriously.

By the time we finally got on our flight from Montreal to Halifax we had been delayed twice more (making the total delay time approximately 6 hours), moved to another gate again, and at the last possible minute the desk attendants announced (guess what?!) that the flight was overbooked by 8 people and they were hoping some volunteers would come forward to take a later flight. That is so wrong for several reasons. For one thing, everyone on that flight (presumably) paid for that flight, making it ridiculous to request that they not take it. For another thing, we’d been delayed SIX HOURS. Why are you just now bringing this up?! Clearly they were hoping that some people would, like…just give up and go home or something, but that is the most awful business ethic I’ve ever heard. For a final thing, why would anyone give up their seat on the plane, knowing that all flights for the next several days are completely screwed up and they’d be lucky to get on another flight in less than 48 hours?

And finally, to add insult to injury, as we finally stepped off the plan in Halifax, an attendant was waiting at the gate to offer us discount vouchers for our next flight. The vouchers gave no indication as to how much the discount might be, but did indicate that we had no more than 30 days to use them. One particularly angry customer (I believe he may have been heading to that wedding I mentioned earlier) snatched a handful of them out of the attendants hand, tore them into a hundred pieces, and scattered them all over the floor at her feet. Not one other customer so much as cracked a smile at the outburst, as we were all feeling that it was the calmest thing he could have done.

So, to reiterate, Air Canada workers were not only unhelpful during this entire ordeal, but they were regularly (and seemingly deliberately) obstructive. Every step of the way it seemed as though they were actually trying to screw up our flights, trying to make us as angry as possible. And I was one of the lucky ones who still managed to get where I was going less than 48 hours late!

And that, my friends, is why I think Air Canada should be burned to the ground. They clearly have no sense of business ethic or customer satisfaction at all. Yeah, I’m talking to you, Air Canada. Thanks for making me lose a full day home with my daughter after being out West for two weeks straight.

Day 1, New Adventure

It has been a loooooong day.

I got up this morning at approximately 1 am. Never a good way to start the day, but there you have it. I grabbed a shower, and tossed my luggage in the car while my husband was (groggily) getting his shower. Together we went in to wake the baby, and were surprised by her happy acceptance at being dragged out of bed in the middle of the night. The little bugger.

Then we drove to Halifax, a three hour drive in the middle of the night. Always a good time. πŸ˜›

Waiting at the airport was the worst, because while I was waiting to head down to security all I could think about was saying good-bye to the baby, which just made me feel more and more ill as the time went on. Strangely, once I’d said my good-bye and gone through security I felt much better, but up to that point, I definitely wanted to barf. Luckily the baby took the good-bye well. Don’t know if that makes me happy or sad.

Going through security was fun. (Ha.) I ended up having to take off my boots because apparently they have metal in the heels. Huh.

On to the flight deck! I’ll tell you, the airplane was not what I was expecting. Maybe it’s because I’d only ever seen the inside of an airplane via Hollywood representation, but I was amazed at how small it was. I’ve heard all the usual complaints about cramped seats and lack of leg space, but just the overall size of the plane itself really surprised me. I felt like I was in a toy. Really.

The flight itself was reasonably enjoyable. Contrary to my previous beliefs that I would be struggling not to vomit everywhere, I actually really enjoyed the takeoff. It was neat watching the ground disappear beneath us, and when we hit the clouds it was like a sea of fluffy snow in every direction. I wish there had been less cloud on the overall journey because I didn’t get to see much else, but it was still pretty neat. My only real complaint about the entire flight was the descent…not because of turbulence or anything like that, but because my ears felt like they were being stabbed by a hundred screwdrivers. I expected my ears would probably pop, since they pop just going over Kelly’s Mountain (hint: it’s not a high mountain), but I wasn’t expecting the level of pain that I experienced. O.U.C.H.

So I landed in Toronto and did the whole thing over again, except the second flight was longer and I was seated next to an exceptionally overweight man. I don’t want to sound mean or anything, but the guy’s arm and side-fat were spilling over into my seat and making me very uncomfortable. I can only imagine how he must have felt, squeezed in a seat that is far too small for him. Because of this little issue, the second flight was not as enjoyable as the first, but I occupied myself by watching Deathly Hollows Part 2 and an episode of Just for Laughs. This time, when we were descending, I tried chewing gum to help with my ears. It didn’t help. Even now, 7 hours off the plane, my ears still hurt and feel like they’re full of cotton. I’m getting a shower after I finish this post and I’m praying the steam helps clear my head because goddammit, ouch!

The camp itself is definitely a bit of a culture shock for me. As I mentioned before, I’ve never had the dorm experience, so I’m going to have to get used to things. The room is small, but nice, and there’s a women-only exercise room that is well-stocked. The dining area made me a little uncomfortable, simply for the fact that I don’t know anyone and the tables are meant to seat 4-6. I ended up sitting at the only table for 2 and shoveling my food in as quick as possible so I could get out of there. I’m not one for eating by myself, but I’m also not the type who can just stroll up to a group of people and ask to eat with them. Double-edged sword. In any case, the food was pretty good. There were several choices of veggies, meats, deserts, etc., and there’s also a “bag-it” room where you can get things like pre-made sandwiches and wraps, fresh fruit and veggies, yogurt and pudding, etc etc. It shouldn’t be too hard to find things to eat each day, is what I’m saying.

And now I’m sitting in my room, wondering what to do with myself for the rest of the night. I’m pretty exhausted, but I don’t know if I’ll be able to sleep. The hot shower might help with that, I suppose, but it’s also still really light out. It’s hard to believe that back at home it’s almost 11 pm. I’ve been awake for 21 hours. Yikes. Maybe I will try to go to sleep. πŸ˜›

Tomorrow continues the adventure! Wish me luck!