Sweating my way to Canada (pt. 1)
The summit of Mt. Benson—Nanaimo, Vancouver Island.
I just had a week of vacation in Vancouver Island. The purpose of the trip was to visit friends and embrace the most gorgeous spectacles of nature I’ve ever seen.
It was tough to get totally excited for all this though because big travel makes me intensely anxious.
My deepest fears are that I’ll miss a flight, have to pay hundreds of dollars, and realize that I’m simply too stupid to be left to my own devices.
But I followed Canada’s tedious criteria for entering their country, prepped days before, and hoped for the best. I had three flights taking me to Vancouver Island. Here’s how they went.
Flight 1: Washington, DC to Montreal
I got up at 5:30am and my roommate kindly drove me to the airport three hours before my flight.
The Air Canada agent was noticeably kind and great at her job. We started joking and laughing with each other. Then the balloon popped.
She was scanning my documents and sadly said, “Oh no…Mr. Taylor…”
My heart sunk. Was I being arrested? Did I forget about a felony I repressed from college?
I was half-expecting her to say: “Mr. Taylor, I’m so sorry but it says here you’re simply too stupid to be left to your own devices. We’re going to have to provide you a chaperone until you land on the island.” That actually would’ve relieved my stress.
Instead, she told me my COVID-19 test wasn’t going to be accepted in Canada. Those Communists! I remembered the testers from two days prior who said my rapid test was fine for travel. My brain went all Karen and I wanted to write a strongly-worded email.
Pretending to keep my cool, I asked, “What are my options?”
She told me there was a rapid-PCR testing site two terminals away. She also told me the test cost $275.
I speed-walked with my head down, ready to pay a quarter of my rent for a stupid test I already got. When I got to the other terminal, a clerk told me the test site opened in about 40 minutes.
This is why we come to the airport early, I thought.
I sat out front, waited for them to open, and compulsively played online chess to pass the time.
When they did, I paid a million dollars or however much it cost, got my test, and they told me I would get my results in about 40 minutes. I wanted to ask, “Can you ‘science’ it extra hard to speed up the process?” Instead, I reopened my Chess.com app and continued playing.
They called my name 45 minutes later. The sheet said: “Dillan R Taylor: Negative.” I thought, Yeah, that sounds about right.
By the time I speed-walked back to the lovely Air Canada agent, I was coated in sweat. The airport was freezing and I disrobed down to my v-neck.
She gave me my boarding passes and I headed to security. The dude took my ID and the first pass, looked at me confused, and said, “This isn’t you, dude.” I thought of the ‘You’re not that guy, pal’ video.
Hilarious, I thought. But he handed me my pass and it was someone else’s name. Fuck!
I jogged back to the check-in and got in the back of a much longer line than before. I finally understood why people on viral videos acted so entitled while traveling. That shit was stressful and it felt like the world was against me. If only the folks in line knew what I was going through.
I made it back to the sweet woman who was ruining my life and she apologized and gave me the correct boarding pass.
I told the TSA agent I was in fact that guy, pal. He didn’t laugh at my joke and I took my shoes off to prep for security. At this point, a body cavity search didn’t feel implausible. Have your way with me, Reagan International.
Check-in: done. Security: done. Bathroom: done.
I made it to my gate with 12 minutes left until boarding.
At least the worst was over…he typed foreshadowing part two of this story.