William Thomas – Have A Nice Day. And After The Disaster, I Did!


Have A Nice Day. And After The Disaster, I Did!

Up early, I’m on the road headed for Porter Airlines in Toronto for a flight to Thunder Bay. I had been asked to be the guest speaker at the city’s signature charity event, the Alzheimer Rendezvous … An Evening To Remember.
So I ease onto the Queen Elizabeth Way and I find myself in the middle of The Bad Drivers Of Southern Ontario Parade. This event, held every day of the week on the QEW features drivers napping in the fast lane while others have to lane jump and speed to get around them. Forget driverless cars, give me rubber fenders so I can bump that mook from behind, thereby spilling coffee all over the newspaper he’s reading. Speed does not kill; dozy drivers do.
I finally arrive at the Billy Bishop Airport parking lot off Lakeshore Boulevard in Toronto and I’m really looking forward to flying Porter Airlines because they’re not Air Canada. Porter has a nice way of dealing with customers, nothing’s a problem, free beverages, snacks and newspapers in the lounge. Every time I fly Air Canada, I feel like they suspect me of carrying the Ebola virus and their sustained rudeness will stop the spread of my disease. I like Porter Airlines.
So I pull into the lot with spots marked Airport Paid Parking and I slip into one. I haul my check-in bag full of books out of the trunk, sling my carry-on over my shoulder and I’m off. Weaving my way through a maze of thirty idling taxis, one cabbie points to my car and says “illegal.” I then go into the nearby security office where the guard tells me no, that’s staff parking and I must go to the far back of the lot. Back to the car, bags back into the car, drive to the back lot … which is full. Back to the security office where the guy gives me instructions on how to get to the airport’s off-site parking lot at the foot of Bathurst Street. I need to go back the way I came, make a U-turn on busy Lakeshore Boulevard, turn left on a street I can’t pronounce and hope it’s not full. At this point I’m thinking parking for Billy Bishop Airport is being run by the same people who gave us community mailboxes and bottled water for dogs.
So I’m pissed off, about to commit a traffic violation and sweating which I loathe to do while travelling and as I close the door of the security office the guy says: “Have a nice day.”
I find a spot at the Bathurst lot, haul out the bags and head vaguely in the direction of the airport because there are no signs for pedestrians. I race through the new tunnel and into the terminal pretty much just in time to board my flight to Thunder Bay. Thanks to an airport parking system that is run much like Stephen Harper’s election campaign, I have missed that hour of relaxation in the lounge.
Two hours later I land in Thunder Bay to find that Porter Airlines has lost my luggage which is a very difficult thing to do on a short flight with no connections. “Porter Airlines – working hard every day to become Air Canada.”
So I check into the Victoria Inn thinking I will cough up on the shoes of the next person who says: “Have a nice day.”
“Oh, Mr. Thomas,” says a nice lady with “Michelle” on her name plate, “we’ve been expecting you.” Wow! The last person to call me “Mr. Thomas” was a bailiff in Buffalo, New York’s traffic court and it was followed with “How do you plead?”
“I hope you had a nice flight,” said Michelle.
“The flight was fine,” I said, not bothering to tell her that the parking situation was not unlike that mid-air disaster in which Billy Bishop outduelled Manfred von Richthofen leaving blood, carnage and my check-in luggage strewn behind enemy lines.
“We have our very special, newly renovated third floor suite ready for you. You’ll like it.”
Going the wrong way off the elevator, I asked a maid where Room #373 was?
‘Oh my,” she said, “you’re in our DEEluxe room!”
After pointing me in the right direction she said, “Remember, the mirror in the bathroom is also a TV!”
And it was … all that they said it would be and more. Refurbished for sheer comfort, the suite had two bathrooms, one with a walk-in shower that could accommodate a rugby team and yes, a mirror that doubled as a TV. (While shaving, I thought, there it is, me and Wolf Blitzer, alone and face-to face at last!)
I got all wrinkly in the shower, I read by the fire, I … I had a very nice day. They also left me a cheese tray in the fridge which I bumped up with cold cuts and a bottle of wine for dinner.
When I asked how I might check my emails, Michelle gave me a laptop computer to take to my room.
There’s something very hospitable and friendly about people in northern Ontario, maybe northern Canada as well that sets them apart from people in the south like a security guard whose dream day is sending a stranger on a poker run to find a parking spot while wishing him “a nice day.”
The Victoria Inn in Thunder Bay: “Working hard every day not to become Porter Airlines.”

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