Man I was happy. I mean H-A-P-P-Y. I had survived the taxi ride to Heathrow. I had survived the flight to Canada. I had even made it through the US Border Patrol relatively easily. I had spilt coffee down myself but I was happy. I looked at my watch. Hmmm. It was 6:00pm. I was at Toronto Airport and my flight to Columbus Ohio boarded at 7:40pm. Time for beer I thought and made my way to a nice little bar. Darn it weren’t cheap but I ordered a bottle of Molson Canadian for $6 happily. Couple of these and a G&T or two and I’ll be ready for my next flight.
I sat by the window and savoured my beer. I could see the taxi ways and aircraft waiting for passengers boarding. There was a light dusting of snow out there now and with all the lights it looked real pretty. I remembered being a little disappointed as we had come in to land. I mean this was Canada right. I had imagined a beautiful snowy landscape dotted randomly with moose and mounties but it looked just like the UK. Just a built up city and no snow, but at least the snow seemed to be coming down now. And as I enjoyed my second beer I noticed it was getting heavy. I watched as teams of snow ploughs headed out to clear the runways, merry orange lights a-twinkle. I did worry briefly about my next flight being cancelled but … naaaaa this was Canada. A little snow is nothing to them right?
I ordered a G&T and watched the multi-TV screens in the bar. Hmmmm lots of ice hockey games. I watched for a while idly as I sipped my drink. One screen also cycled through the departures and my one was still showing up as on-time as the snow built up outside steadily. So I finished my G&T and picking up my flight bag I sauntered off to my departure gate. It was bloody miles away. Most of the way I was alone and I was just soooo tempted to find a quiet corner to risk a fag but knowing my luck I’d get busted and I didn’t want to tempt fate.
Finally after what seemed like a major hike I arrived at my gate. The guy in charge seemed to be getting flustered. Looking up at the info screen I realised why. My bloody flight had been cancelled and he was surrounded by pissed-off passengers. I joined them. It turned out that Canada (Toronto Airport specifically) hadn’t been expecting the snow and had been caught with it’s pants down. Mine wasn’t the only flight being cancelled. But we expect this to happen in the UK don’t we, where even the trains come to a complete standstill because the ‘wrong kind of snow’ has fallen. Actually a small part of me smiled that this could happen even in Canada but it didn’t help for long. I talked to the Air Canada guy and apart from the remote chance of a flight to Cleveland I wasn’t going anywhere until tomorrow. “SHIT”. I was stuck in Canada yet again. What was I going to do?
Full marks to Air Canada again. The guy at the check in desk gave me a voucher for a hotel for the night including dinner and breakfast so at least I wouldn’t be sleeping in the terminal. It meant I had to go and collect my luggage and go through Canadian immigration though and the queues were disconcertingly serpentine. It seemed that lots of flights had been cancelled judging by the moans and groans of my fellow queuers. But eventually I was through and re-united with the luggage. Straight outside for a cigarette and WOW…..cold. I felt like I’d arrived in the Arctic. Man it was cold and so goodbye to the pork pie hat. I had fortuitously packed the woolly hat and gloves in the pocket of the suitcase. Travel educates you to expect all eventualities so I wrapped up to enjoy another cigarette. I had called Raven and told her of my unexpected stay for the night in Toronto again but somehow it wasn’t as bad as in October, at least I would be in Columbus even if a day late. I wasn’t going home this time.
I waited a while in the bitingly cold Toronto night but soon my shuttle bus arrived to transport me to the Crown Plaza Hotel. The roads were pretty bad. Cars abandoned everywhere but we were at the hotel in about ten minutes. I had to join the queue at reception but before long I was talking to an amazingly friendly receptionist. She swapped my room for a smoking allowed one. Great stuff. I was on the tenth floor and I wouldn’t have to negotiate the lift every time I wanted to smoke. I grabbed my free dinner which wasn’t half bad. Chicken and chips plus I got a ginger ale for my Glenfiddich night cap. Life didn’t look too bad after that and Raven called too to put a smile on my face. Yes it was disappointing. I should have been with her in Columbus then but … well … after our six months apart one day extra couldn’t be too disastrous. Hopefully I could get an early flight out in the morning. All Air Canada could tell me was to ring in the morning. And so that was my day. I watched a little Canadian TV before setting my alarm. Surely I could get a flight out in the morning?
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