Travel isn’t for the weak-minded

I’m sitting in the Pearson International Airport in Toronto. My flight was to depart at 10 a.m. bound for Halifax.
Warnings popped up on the radio this morning advising travellers to get to the airport early as they had “system” crashes during the evening and there would be backlogs. They weren’t kidding. Very few of the baggage drop-off stations were functioning.
I managed to get through to my gate in lots of time despite the chaos, despite the people shouting, and what struck me as I listened to stressed travellers wondering if they would get to their gate on time was their need to apply blame.
Groups of people were shifted from one baggage drop area to another, and so it became a sea of confused people not sure where they were to go to drop their bags, the domestic travellers blending in with travellers to the U.S.
I heard one woman berating her husband for bringing them to the wrong area and yet I heard him being instructed by a WestJet employee to go to the precise area we were standing in. I have to say that I had the urge to slap her, though I’m not sure a physical reaction was going to serve anyone’s needs except mine.
Why blame? Why shout when everyone is doing their best and trying to find their way through. I travel with one wee bag so it was easy for me to slip through and bounce my wee bag onto the conveyor belt, where it was swept quickly away with the whisper of a promise that it will find its way to Halifax.
But who really knows?
When I went through security, the bins move quickly in this direction and in that, and my laptop ended up at one destination while my cellphone and backpack ended up in another. After a fitful search, I was reunited with my wandering cellphone but for a moment I felt my arm had been severed, which it hadn’t, but we have become ridiculously dependent on our electronic devices.
Travel isn’t for the weak-minded. And I would guess it is even harder on the employees who must work within a system that seems to regularly fail.
I realize we shouldn’t be complaining when I can hop on board a 737 and end up in Halifax from Toronto in two brief hours when the drive is excessively long. We should be grateful that such travel is available.
But we’re a bit like packing dogs when we get in airports. We push, we shove, we don’t make room for those in greater need. We shout and complain and quite frankly, this is why I prefer to stay at home.
Having said that, I’m sitting quietly at a small table with a comfortable chair, my laptop plugged in to charge and a bottle of water at my right hand. I have my headset on, listening to the podcast of Tanya Talaga giving her first lecture of the Massey Lectures series that kicked off in Thunder Bay, which was pre-recorded and aired by CBC Radio’s “Ideas.”
I am moved and inspired and overwhelmed and many other emotions as I listen, but mostly I’m determined to be an active participant in change. My flight has been delayed four hours so I have a relatively long wait ahead of me, but perhaps that is just as it should be as I listen to Tanya and make my plans.
As a footnote, we eventually departed Toronto and attempted two approaches in Halifax, but the crosswinds exceeded allowable limits so off we went to Fredericton. After a few hours, I was in a hotel and now I’m ready to board a bus for a four-and-a-half-hour ride back to Halifax airport.
It has been an interesting journey. I hope wherever you are travelling today, be it to the moon or to the next room, all goes well and you arrive safely at your destination.
wendistewart@live.ca

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