So here I am in Toronto Airport. I have just been refused entry into the US by the American border patrol who have handed me over to Canadian immigration. Mercifully the Canadians are great and I get the feeling that there is no love lost between the competing border guards. The Canadian guard asks me a couple of questions and that’s it. He stamps my passport and I am allowed into Canada. I tell him my tale of woe. He smiles and grins. “Fucking bunch of ass holes.”
he says in reference to the US Border guards. I must admit that I agree.
And that’s it. I am in Toronto, Canada. Alone and wondering what the hell to do next. I look at my watch and see that in ten minutes time I should have been landing in Columbus Ohio. I call my Raven immediately now that I can use my phone. She is waiting for me to walk through arrivals there and I tell her the bad news. We are both devastated. Only about 200 miles apart but that might as well be 20,000 miles. I am stuck. In a foreign country and alone after travelling all day. What to do next?
I tell my poor Raven to go home and we will talk soon but I need to get sorted out. It is a daunting feeling in many ways. Cast adrift in a foreign city 3500 miles from home. So my first stop is at a bureau de change to swap 50 US bucks for some Canadian cash. I guess I won’t be needing the US ones this trip now and I am struck by the friendliness of the lady there. I tell her briefly of my plight and she even fiddles with her machine so I only pay $2 commission instead of $4. She is also disdainful of the US border patrol bless her. I move on to Starbucks and grabbing a coffee I balance it on my airport trolley with my two suitcases and head rapidly for the exit to smoke my first cigarette since London about 14 hours previously. It tastes so good and I have another while watching the steady stream of limos, taxis and shuttle buses passing through.
Next job I suppose is to sort out a return ticket asap, and so I wheel my world on a trolley over to the Air Canada booking desk. Again I tell my tale of woe to the counter clerk who again is so friendly and sympathetic. She manages to get me on the early morning flight back to London at 07:50 and I am really surprised that she doesn’t charge me a cent. All other times I have changed flight details it has cost around a $100 so this is excellent news at least. She asks me if I need a hotel but I reckon I can kip in the airport till morning and by now I am feeling so shattered. I’ve been on the go for about 24 hours now and even the last sleep I had was short and broken by my pre flight nerves. So I need more coffee and nicotine now that my return is sorted.
And so back outside the terminal with more coffee and my fags. I start talking to a young Chinese guy who is doing the same as me, smoking and drinking coffee. Of course I again go through my tale and he commiserates with me. Then he asks me if I can drive. Of course. And he offers me a job driving for his parents … Amazing. I’ve only been here an hour or so and I have a job offer. Gawd knows what I’d be doing. Taxi-ing or food deliveries? Who knows but I thank him and regretfully refuse his kind offer but I did get tempted for a few seconds there. I just can’t get over these Canadians. Everyone of them has been so damned friendly to me. I am impressed and my faith is restored in human nature to some extent.
My Chinese friend flicks away his cigarette and high fives me before going back into the terminal. I contemplate people and think of an old saying. ‘Rules are for the guidance of wise men and obedience by fools.’ I smiled and thought how appropriate that is in regard to the US border patrol. I finish my own ciggie and re-enter the terminal too.
Raven calls me back and I tell her of my progress but she won’t hear of me sleeping in the airport lounge and she insists I get a hotel for the night. Is it any wonder that I love this woman so much? And so I go back outside and ask one of the shuttle bus drivers for the number of a reasonable hotel. He suggests the Comfort Suites on Carling View Road and I call Raven back with the number. Bless her, she arranges it all for me and even though her computer has gone ‘tit’s up’ she visits a 24 hour fax place in Columbus to book a night for me. By now I am drooping noticeably but she calls me back in about half an hour to tell me that she has sorted it. I grab another coffee and a sandwich from Tim Horton‘s this time and head back out to the shuttle buses.
But all the buses are for specific hotels and I am so tired that I forgot the name of mine. Damn … Bright idea. I have the phone number written in my wallet so back into the terminal and depositing some Canadian cash into a payphone I call them. They remind me of the name and tell me the driver will look out for me when he arrives in about 5 minutes. Excellent and so I go back to the shuttle stop. For some reason I go to look for my wallet….. arghhhhhhh. It’s gone. I flap about wildly like a wounded duck, slapping pockets but no … it’s gone. I run (well I move as fast as I can pushing a trolley with 2 suitcases on) and thank gawd. There it is. Still laying open on the payphone. I grab it quickly and rush out yet again just as my bus turns up. Sleep beckons.
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