The maple leaf in my soul is bleeding red. And white.

September 19, 2009

I’m so over traveling.

I know what you’re thinking: “But, John, don’t you fancy yourself some kind of freelance travel writer? Isn’t the world your own personal ATM, where you punch in the words and various publications spit out cash?”

OK, let me rephrase: I enjoy the destination. What I’m so over is the actual getting tò the destination.

I’ve grown weary of packing, although I will admit to being rather adept at telling if my suitcase is overweight by the simple act of hefting it. A one-hand lift = good. Two hands and a grunt needed to lift = I’ve got a problem.

Are there any toiletries in my carry-on? How about water? Did I remember to remove the special Swiss Army knife my sister bought me when she was stationed in Europe?

What should I wear on my feet? The hiking boots that weigh 600 pounds and so are too heavy to be in my suitcase? But also have 600 hundred feet of laces and take three days to undo should they need to be taken off and placed on the X-ray scanner belt at the airport.

And please tell me how, at the other end of that belt, I am supposed to juggle the laptop I had to pull from its case, the belt I had to take off before it caused the metal detector to screech, the boots I had to remove and my two carry-on bags?

There is no need for terrorists to actually blow up my plane  — they have already made my life hell and I am still in the terminal.

And then there’s that whole panic-inducing fear that I will be the last one seated in my section, well after fellow passengers from many rows away have already wandered over specifically to fill the overhead bin above my seat, meaning there is now no room for my stuff.

Even when that nightmare scenario does not play out, something else manages to bite me in the ass.  On a recent Air New Zealand flight to Canada, I noticed a small overhead compartment directly above me. Concerned that maybe this was the one I was supposed to use, I reached up, while still securely buckled in my seat, and opened the door.

“Leave it!”

Now, I’m almost certain the female flight attendant standing in the emergency exit alcove directly behind my seat didn’t mean to bark so loudly as to readjust the part in my hair. I’m almost positive what she actually meant to say was, “Excuse me, sir, but that particular compartment is reserved for cabin crew luggage. Please close the door.”

I’m also guessing, due to the dim lighting and the fact that I do look young for my age, she simply mistook me for a 10-year-old shitrat intent on whipping open her litle suitcase and scattering her knickers and lipstick in the aisle.

Facing Customs & Immigration at the Vancouver Airport is always another treat. It matters not one whit that I possess a Canadian passport or that I lived the first five decades of my life in the Great White North, paying taxes every single hour of my working life. I am now a New Zealand resident. I am now a foreigner. I am now to be treated differently.

“What is the purpose of your visit?” asks the 20-something fellow with the faux-military haircut that matches the sneering chip on his shoulder. What he’s really saying is, “One false word, fat boy, and you’ll be touching your ankles while I snap on the latex gloves.”

What is the purpose of my visit? Where do I start?

I want to eat a lemon-cranberry scone with my Starbucks coffee.

I want to eat a Tim Horton’s doughnut. Maybe even one from Krispy Kreme.

I want to hold a Hockey News and an Entertainment Weekly in my hand instead of reading them online.

I want to experience real high-speed broadband.

I want to talk to people who understand what sport I mean when I say “hockey.”

I want to taste real maple syrup.

I want to see a dogwood tree. And squirrels. Maybe even a beaver.

What is the purpose of my visit? You’re kiding me, right?

My purpose, Mr. Dipshit, is to be a Canadian.

Now stamp my f*****n passport and order me a double-double before I drop my gloves.


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