Thursday Tidbits

Posted on November 28, 2019 under Thursday Tidbits with no comments yet

Keeping the runway clear



“I’ll be home for Christmas.” I think.

Christmas, with its crass commercialism leaves me feeling a bit like Scrooge by times but I enjoy the family traditions of the festive season. The annual Boxing Day street hockey game is always a highlight and caroling around town and in the seniors’ residences and nursing homes is a joyful experience.

The Christmas Day dinner at St. James United Church is truly wonderful bringing together people who might not have anyone with whom to share a turkey dinner or a university student whose home may too far away to get home for the holidays. It’s also for people like me who might not want to go to the trouble of preparing a big meal. People are asked to bring something to the dinner. I’m a mashed potato kind of guy and usually bring a healthy portion. The church is a two minute walk from my apartment so it’s really convenient.

So, why I am in doubt about making it home for Christmas?

As the real estate people say “Location is everything.”

I am now living in a remote, fly in town in Northern Quebec. The only way in and out is by plane unless you want to hitch a ride on a cargo ship but, with the bay freezing up rapidly, that option is out.

I love airports when I don’t hate them. I’ve done my fair share of traveling over the years and 90% of my trips have gone without a glitch. Bad weather is normally the culprit and occasionally mechanical problems can cause significant delays. Getting lost is also problematic. Trying to navigate Heathrow in London or Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi often require a GPS.

The airport in Kangiqsujuraq is very small. The people who staff it are great. Some of you now know that I often wander up there on the weekend to shoot the breeze with people coming and going. I also go there through the week seeking my elusive luggage from home. I guess you could call me a “hanger-on”.

Last weekend I talked to two different people who travel frequently to our town on business. One of them told me that a few years back he got fogged in here for six straight days. With our proximity to open water that didn’t come as a huge surprise. I am supposed to leave here on December 19th. If the fog shows up, I’ll be texting Santa on the 24th to see if he can deliver me safely to Nova Scotia. Everyone knows that he starts his trip on the East coast of Canada!

Ron (not his real name) regaled me with a story that left me shaking my head. He and four fellow passengers managed to make it to the airport in the middle of a horrific snow storm. When they arrived, they discovered the terminal building open but no employees were to be found. The runway and docking area were invisible such was the severity of the storm. All appeared lost.

The passengers heard the plane before they saw it. Somehow, a talented pilot had managed to land his plane in next to impossible conditions. Even when he approached the docking area only a handful of metres from the terminal, it was still not visible. After shutting down the plane’s engines, he entered the terminal shaking off a layer of snow that he had accumulated from his walk from the plane. The passengers could scarcely believe what they were witnessing.

The pilot looked at the small group and said that he was going to continue his trip south. Needless to say, the passengers seemed a bit stunned by this declaration. “Anyone is welcome to come but it will be a rough ride.” That may have been an understatement. Anxious to get to their destination, all five agreed. Because there were no agents present, boarding passes were unavailable. None were required was the official word from the pilot. The passengers weighed their own bags so that the pilot could balance the load.

Once on board, the pilot stood in the aisle to give a few last minute words. “The first 15 minutes of the flight will be very turbulent but we will eventually break through the clouds and we will be greeted by sunny skies for the duration of the flight.” On hearing this, a resident of Kangiqsujuaq stood up and headed for the exit. The other passengers wondered to themselves if this person knew something that they didn’t.

The door was closed, the plane taxied down the runway, buffeted by strong winds. The pilot didn’t lie. It was a white knuckle affair. The four passengers had their heads down leading to speculation of prayer, fear, or motion sickness, possibly all three. The rest of the flight proceeded without incident.

If I am unlucky and am greeted by fog or a snowstorm, my first call will go to Santa. If he’s too busy “making a list and checking it twice,” I’ll track down that pilot and see if he wants to come to the Street Hockey Game on Boxing Day. He’ll need to deliver me there safely.

“Any storm in a port” is what I say!

Have a great weekend.

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