Thursday, December 23, 2010

Arriving in Toronto

After watching the first ten minutes of Dinner for Schmucks, the in-flight entertainment system died for the row in the plane that we were sat in, so we spent the rest of the flight in darkness (even the lights failed for our row). Still, it wasn't all bad; I've heard that Dinner for Schmucks wasn't that great, and we did get a $50 voucher each as compensation for not being able to fill our minds with televisual pap, and it wasn't like all the toilets broke down, like some earlier Cathay Pacific flights this year.

14 hours sat on a plane is a jolly long time, so I fell asleep for a while to the frankly terrifying sound of Luke Haines reading his autobiography, then woke up and read 'Just My Type', a rather interesting history of typography and fonts, and then watched 'Kiss Me Deadly' on my laptop, which was either hard to understand in the noisy confines of an airplane, or had a wilfully obscure plot that was never explained.

Arriving in Toronto was painless: we waited for about a minute before being processed by Customs, with none of the surliness that I've had in either Vancouver or Seattle. On the other hand, their signage and security aren't top notch; we missed the sign for the area to recheck our baggage for the onward flight, walked out into the concourse, and then got straight back into the area we'd just left by walking back through the doorway. Proper signs should have prevented us doing the former, and a stricter security team should have stopped us doing the latter, but perhaps everyone in Canada is just more decent and trustworthy.

Except I'm not decent and trustworthy. I'm an evil furriner, without maple syrup running through my veins. What can they be thinking?

It's a bit of an adjustment to get on a plane in Hong Kong and then get off the plane in Canada. For a start, there's not as many people. And not all of them are Chinese. There seem to be a lot more people walking around with their mouths ajar, and nobody with a face-mask on to guard against respiratory illnesses. The signs are all in English and French, rather than English and Traditional Chinese, so I suppose that is the replacement of one incomprehensible language with another one, so I'm at least half at home.

They are cheerful though, I'll give them that. And helpful too: when a security official saw there was an immobile queue of six people at the security line, he suggested we walk upstairs (where there was no queue at all) - back in England nobody would say anything (although this would be because they know all English people like complaining about waiting in a queue), and in the US if you suggested there was anything badly-organised about the security line, they'd have you special renditioned to Gitmo for your holidays, if the current noise from the States is anything to go by.

Sitting in Tim Horton's, enjoying a custard-injected, maple-syrup-flavoured-frosted doughnut, and not enjoying a 'cappucino' (brewed coffee with a squirt of *some special ingredient*) I saw a pilot eating a doughnut and drinking some of the barely palatable coffee. He had the slightly bovine cast to the face that is produced from either this woeful beverage choice, or from spending his days carting people back and forth in a bus through the skies. I'm not saying that air travel isn't glamourous any more, but you probably still want pilots to appear to be part of some immortal class of superbeings, not bored looking bus-drivers on their lunch hour.

At least they still have serious looking uniforms.

Except they don't. Half an hour later I spotted another flight captain wandering through the terminal wearing a novelty Christmas tie. It's all very well to suggest that it's not what you look like, it's how you perform your duties that's important, but remind me of the last time you chose an airline because it had extroverted pink-dreadlocked flight attendants, rather than serious minded people who concentrated on making sure all the wheelnuts were done up tight? There's a certain levity in the sort of person who wears a cartoon depiction of a fictional red-nosed reindeer that I don't think belongs in the cockpit of a passenger aircraft. My fiancee thinks this is just my reserved Britishness coming out, but that overlooks the obvious fact that reserved things don't come out. If they did, they wouldn't be reserved.

From these things, I conclude that all Canadians are at least a bit mental. They're either Tim Hortons coffee-swilling, comedy-tie-wearing aeronautical bus drivers, or they walk around everywhere without remembering to close their mouths, or they don't know what English reserve is. But they're quite perky with it - perhaps there is a correlation between happiness and crappy coffee.

OK, that is a gross over generalisation.

I conclude that all Canadians I have encountered in Ontario are like the above paragraph. That leaves the proud province of Nova Scotia up for grabs. More later.


Post a Comment