Snarky comments from the columnist behind Inside The Ropes, True Wrestling Stories, Breaking News and Wrestling With Literature.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Monday, October 22, 2007
Frustrated Traveler (An Essay)
Now... I'm hardly the world's most-travelled person; other than occasional trips to New York, Las Vegas and, uh, Halifax, I really haven't been to too many places in my life. Up until recently, my passport had fewer notches on it than my be... well, bad example.
So while my trip to Lima, Peru this week was informative, interesting and lots of fun, the travel problems I encountered weren't quite as enjoyable. I'd love to know how my series of travel horror stories rank with yours, just to see if I even have a case.
So here's how I remember it. All times are approximate:
8:00 a.m. -- I arrive at Pearson airport to begin my journey. Clear customs in near-record time, shoot the shit with my brother, who works there, and before I know it, it's time to get on a plane. Next stop, Peru.
12:00 p.m. -- Well, not quite. The next stop is Atlanta, Georgia. For reasons that are still kind of fuzzy to me, the travel department at my work opted NOT to fly me direct to Lima, even though Air Canada has such a service, and there were still spots available. It's part of their "make travel as complicated as humanly possible" mandate, which for this trip included forcing me to get a work visa from the Peruvian consulate -- even though I would only be in the city for about 46 hours.
1:30 p.m. -- It hits me around this point that I have another FOUR HOURS to kill at the airport in Atlanta. No worries -- I get some lunch, and spend some time playing around with my new BlackBerry. Okay, it's not technically mine; it's my office's BlackBerry. I've since fallen in love with it, and we've eloped. Office work folk who are reading this: you DON'T want it back now; trust me.
But my Telus phone wasn't going to work in Lima, and I needed something to communicate with the outside world while I was there. On the Friday before I left, I called Bell (the BlackBerry service provider) saying I wanted to be sure my...er, the BlackBerry will work there. After keeping me on hold for, oh, about six hours, they confirm that I'm good to go.
This becomes important later.
4:30 p.m. -- What a shock; my flight to Lima is delayed.
If I understand the situation correctly, the plane didn't have enough fuel in it to travel that far, so they were waiting on another flight from Rome to take us there. I'm confused, because I was under the impression most airports kind of carried their own fuel. Maybe it was a special kind of Italian fuel? And, being that the other plane was in Rome, it was going to be a few more hours before it would arrive with its precious fuel supply.
6:30 p.m. -- The plane from Rome has arrived, and we should be able to hop on board "in ten minutes".
7:40 p.m. -- The plane takes off. Yeah.
The captain apologizes for the delay and promises to "make up some of the time in the air". I've never quite understood this. If you KNOW you can fly the plane faster, why on earth wouldn't you do that in the first place?
Anyways, I'm off to bed for a few hours. Next stop, Peru.
1:20 a.m. -- Well, not quite. Peruvian customs is next, and we're off to a roaring start. Apparently, Spanish is the official language here (I would have guessed "French") and I don't speak a word of it. Their English is much better than my Spanish (and probably better than my English) and sure enough, they ask me about whether I have a work visa. I show them proudly where it says in my passport that I'm allowed in their country for two days. Then they ask for my e-itinerary, which of course, I don't have on me.
Also, my BlackBerry doesn't work here.
2:00 a.m. -- I clear customs and look for my ride (I was told ahead of time NOT to take taxis because of something called "express kidnappings" and the conference organizers graciously agreed to pick me up). There are, I'm not joking here, at least FOUR DOZEN people carrying various placards, none of which looks remotely like my name. But no worries, I'm sure they'll show up soon....
2:30 a.m. -- Okay, maybe not. As I was told the next day, there WAS somebody there for me, but there may possibly have been some miscommunication about the gate arrival. I'm also more than an hour late, so it's not completely unexpected.
But here I am, in a strange country where I don't speak the language, have no working phone, no local currency, and no ride, waiting to get to a hotel (which I have no clue where it is) because I have to be up in six hours for an interview. So reeking of desperation (or maybe not just desperation; hey, I HAD been travelling for 20-odd hours), I finally engaged one of the dozens of taxi operators (the renowned "Green Taxi" company) that had offered their services as I had been wandering around aimlessly for 30 minutes.
3:00 a.m. -- I arrive in my hotel safely, find out that my computer's wi-fi doesn't work in the hotel room (again, not unexpected) and try to get some shut-eye.
10:30 a.m. -- No, I didn't sleep in that long, but this was the next comedy-related entry. I spent literally 30 minutes on the phone from my hotel room with Bell Canada trying to enable my BlackBerry (which sounds dirty, but really isn't).
I'll bottom line this: apparently, Bell needs to process a "ticket" which is a request from the local carrier, so that the BlackBerry can work on the network in Lima. They have not yet taken this step. My question, and I believe this is an exact quote, is WHY THE FUCK NOT??? Shockingly, there's no record of me requesting a "ticket" , yet they DO have a record of me calling Friday asking about whether service would work in Lima on October 17 and October 18. Apparently I was just making polite conversation during my initial call.
So I calmly (yeah, right) explain that I HAD, in fact, told the Bell service rep on Friday which days I would be going to Lima, and that I actually DID need service on those days, and even though it was fun to talk about with a Bell rep back then, I DID have an actual request when I was calling, and said request was to MAKE SURE THE FUCKING BLACKBERRY WORKED!!!
(Sorry I had to take that out on you. My apologies.)
So Bell went ahead and processed my ticket, and promised that the situation would be resolved within 48 hours. Which will be extremely useful during my next trip to Lima, I guess.
I'm purposely skipping, by the way, specific details of the trip because of a story I'm writing, but suffice it to say it went a hell of a lot better than my travel issues did. I also learned a ridiculous amount of Spanish in just two days that would make any Canadian proud. To wit:
- "Hola" means "Holla"
- "Amigo" means "Sworn enemy"
- "Cómo estás?" means "Please accompany me back to my hotel room."
- "Señor" means "I'm flattered, but you're a 60 year-old dude, and I don't swing that way, at least not before several Pisco Sours."
- "Si" means pretty much the same thing it means in English ("6 o'clock")
10:20 p.m. -- I am beyond panicked. I'm back at the airport in Lima, and my flight is set to leave in about an hour. Traffic in Lima, as I'm quickly finding out, is dreadful, even late at night, and the bus that transported me to the airport was running late.
Before I can even get to customs, American Airlines is giving me grief over my ticket, in as much as they claim I don't have one. They ask to see my passport (and actually disappear with it at one point to a remote counter) and return with a manager to say that I'm not flying with AA. They ask to see my e-itinerary, which of course is tucked away in my luggage (you'd think I would have been bright enough to remember this after it happened to me earlier in the week, but apparently not). I find the itinerary, and after about 10 minutes of confusion, they inform me that I was booked through American Airlines, but not flying on American Airlines.
10:45 p.m. -- I encounter the longest customs line-up known to man, with the entire population of Lima (More than 7 million people, in case you were wondering, and that's before a census coming up this week) deciding to fly simotaneously on international aircraft.
I have to mention at this point that someone in line tried to hand me their shopping bag and suggested "You take on plane?", to which I answered "La niña está en la casa" (translation: "Do I look like a moron?"). I am not making this up -- buddy actually wanted me to transport his bag across the border. Awesome.
Once I make it to the front of the line, they press me on the work visa issue and again, I show them the proper paperwork. They did hassle me over something in the work visa saying I was leaving the country via Continental Airlines but that was just the "phantom" flight my travel agent had booked to hold a spot for me before I got my visa.
I should point out that my flight was leaving at 11:50 p.m., and I cleared customs at 11:30.
11:30 p.m. -- So I guess, in hindsight, it was a good thing my flight was delayed. Yeah. But hey, this delay was only 30 minutes, and this plane is PIMPED OUT. My company has paid for first-class, and I've got one of those bed/seat things that made for a much-needed snooze.
Before I know it, I'll be back in Toronto.
9:30 a.m. -- Well, not quite. I'm now in New York at JFK Airport, recently named "Most Confusing Airport Ever" by a survey I made up just now. Seriously. It took me TWO FREAKING HOURS to go from gate to gate, including passing through customs, a mini-subway ride, several elevators, two escalators, and a coffee/croissant stop (I hadn't had breakfast yet).
It was almost as though I was on a scavenger hunt. "You're on the right track," one helpful person would say. "Take the third elevator on the right, where you'll find your next clue."
Fortunately, I still had another ninety minutes to kill before the final leg of my flight.
2:15 p.m. -- I'd love to tell you about how there was another delay, or how Canada screwed up somehow, but the rest of my trip home was incident-free, or as the spanish say, "dónde está el rábano jardín?" (where is the radish garden?).
Saturday, October 13, 2007
Out Of Bloggfice Alert
I will be out of the country starting on Monday, and back online probably Friday morning. Would love to disclose more about the assignment, but unfortunately I can't.
In the meantime... there will be something by me on WWI next Tuesday (though the week after may be tricky) and probably a lack of audio shows for at least a week or so...
Friday, October 12, 2007
The Office Line Of The Night
"It's like eating a hot circle of garbage."
First of all... I am LOVING the hour-long episodes. This has been three in a row!
There were a ton of great moments here. The pizza delivery kid and his subsequent kidnapping were GOLD. Kevin insistent that they order from the right Alfredo's; Michael's mistaking a chatroom for a club, and of course, the website IM'ing Dwight (the classic pranks never die). Ryan is filling his role as the asshole unrespected boss quite nicely, too.
Things I'm less crazy about: the Angela-Dwight-Andy love triangle (only because I don't see Andy in that role) and Jim and Pam getting TOO lovey-dovey, just because you know this is all going badly (and probably soon).
But still, the best episode of the three so far this season.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Thursday, October 04, 2007
Catching Up With Canadian Bulldog
Sorry for the longer-than-normal delay in updates... just been hella busy lately with real life. So where do we start?
September FitnessBlog: I worked out a total of 18 times last month, which seems to be pretty much the average these days. But here's something cool -- my gym has recently changed ownership, and as part of the changes (read: an eventual grab for higher fees) they have a kind of "cycle" program where you cycle through 9 different machines as part of some proven system to help you lose weight, age better, feel better, etc. I've only done the whole loop twice so far, but I think I'm going to stick with it for a while...
Latest "Breaking News": Vince McMahon Chosen As Next James Bond
Latest Audio: Up on Club WWI right now, James Guttman and I talked for almost an HOUR about all things wrestling, including John Cena, who will take his place this weekend at No Mercy, why WWE is having trouble getting new fans, Hornswoggle, save_us.222, Damien Demento, Bubby Bulldog, the Canadian Target Hockey Stores and MUCH more!
Misc. television: If you haven't already, do yourself a favor and watch this week's Rick Mercer Report. I'm not a regular viewer, but I may very well become one, based solely on his comedy bit with embattled media baron Conrad Black.
And just to add a bit of hype, next week's True Wrestling Story is guaranteed to shock and surprise you! Tune in next Tuesday.... if, uh, I get enough time this weekend to work on it.