A brief digression: the research trip edition

I normally try to keep this blog about my research, but today I’m going to digress. Maybe it’s because I’ve got a couple of hours to kill at the airport, maybe I’m just being a grumpy traveller. I like to think that I’ve become inured to the inexplicable inefficiency of airports, but today I hit my limit. If you’ve come to the site today for titillating tidbits about Victorian detectives, read no further. Like me, today is not your day. And I’ve got an axe to grind…

I actually woke up in a cheerful mood this morning. I thought I had been savvy by downloading the Air Canada app onto my phone and checking in online. My bus from London to Toronto was on time and I cheerfully (well, maybe not cheerful…but certainly in a decent mood) lined up in the Bag Drop line as my pre-printed check-in sheet instructed me to. So far so good.

Even the irony wasn't enough to lift my spirits

Even the irony wasn’t enough to lift my spirits

I felt pretty pleased as I moved towards the bag drop, only to have my good luck interrupted by a curt Air Canada employee who informed me that I had yet to print my baggage tag (we do this ourselves now??), so I had to leave my spot in line and proceed to an automated check-in kiosk. Thus migrated, I printed off my baggage tag and boarding pass. I’m not sure about the rest of you, but I wasn’t about to have to begin the process all over again by gumming up the sticky tag, so I looked around for help.

It turned out I was one of many bewildered passengers peering around like a family of meerkats in search of help. Finally an attendant put our tags on, scanned our boarding passes and we returned to the Bag Drop line. Ten minutes later, I dropped off my bag. Was this all necessary? Was dividing up the basic duties of check in (scanning Passport, checking bags, assigning seats) the best way? It took me 40 minutes and much irritation (so much, in fact, that I just typed irrigation…I could use a drink) to dump the bag I initially got in line to check.

Not home free yet. Next comes security: long line, few smiles. The security agent told me in her best “I would rather be anywhere else” voice that I needed to push the bins with my coat, bag and computer into the machine myself: “push, push, PUSH.” After that I my bra set off the scanner and I got intimately acquainted with the wand-lady. Then I discovered I had been “specially selected” (the airport equivalent of winning the lottery, I suppose) to enter the full body scanner. This is the space-age contraption where you stand with your hands up like a felon caught red handed while everyone walking by wonders what you did to get in there.

Salvation

Salvation

So, finally through that ordeal, I emerge onto the flat escalator that takes me the 8 miles to the far end of the terminal where my gate is. By that point, I was so excited to see Starbucks that I grabbed a delicious looking black forest ham and brie sandwich, only to discover it was $12. Nuts to that. I am now getting a bit prickly. That is, until I discover a lovely haven of a restaurant called the Heirloom. It’s a bit mod for my taste, with its iPads on every table, but it has a comfy chair, a power outlet and I end up with a restorative meal, for just a few dollars more than the offending Starbucks sandwich. Now I’m in a post prandial lull, where I can approach my airport ordeal with (a little) more equanimity.

Final tally:

Air Canada = 0

Heirloom = 1

Rachael =  -1

(great dinner evened out by creepy seat mate on flight who kept trying to take my hand while I slept)

Postscript:

Am now safely ensconced in my lodgings in Goldhawk Road and going to have a nap!

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