Saturday, March 27, 2010

On Strike or Vacation

I never thought I would be relieved to be sitting sardine-like, 10 abreast in a fully loaded Boeing 747. But despite leaving 20 minutes late I was content. We were on our way, the last British Airways flight out of Vancouver to London Heathrow before the impending strike. I could stop holding my breath and chill a little. We were in the air just a few hours before the midnight deadline when planes would apparently be grounded.

In a way I felt like I was going on strike...for three weeks anyway...unless BA really goes to war and holds out longer than expected (I am secretly hoping). Work was left behind in a flurry of delegation and inevitable last minute details. What would I do without a supportive, willing and even long suffering team to make this vacation break possible? Clothes and books, and my well-traveled laptop, had been hurriedly packed after a last minute haircut. Despite fearing that essential things, like tickets, passports or my universal plug-in, were being left behind or necessary instructions, like where we were going, scribbled too illegibly, the European adventure had begun. Nothing would be normal for 22 days, and I was game for that. Despite leaving behind the work, with my "gone fishin'" sign hung electronically on my email in box, I had a slight guilt pang or two when I thought of tasks left with my team-mates to complete, but I knew that intermittently recurrent feeling would fade over time. Of course, I would face the barrage of return 'favours' when I entered the office door April 19, but for now I was flying high on my way to the "Old Country", and I felt free.

Even my ever-present tremour seemed to sense we were on vacation as it subsided after settling into seat 35G. I was asleep before we left the ground, the ever-frustrating safety lecture lost on me without a concern for missing it.  However, that proved to be a catnap and I slept little after that. 
Some would have called the "red-eye" 8 plus hours in a winged, wide body jet a boring part of the journey; an unimpressive beginning to an adventure. But for me the predictable and uneventful trip was a perfect start. Rest, nothing to worry about except getting a little sleep.  And not to forget avoiding the loss of a knee cap to a speeding aluminum service cart driven by a flight attendant angry about having to serve picket duty shortly after touching down.  I tried to get pictures but it is apparently "contrary to BA policy to photograph" grumpy flight attendants who treat all overtures of friendliness as terrorist plots.  I think they may have wanted to spend more time with simulating BA plane dismemberment in the lounge.

Now I must admit to modest posterior pain after a night of nothing but naps sitting upright (or almost) on a seat "cushion" that must have been used by Amelia Earhart and had long since lost any vertical resistance. But it was ameliorated by the novel experience of programing the on demand sound system in the seatback to allow me my own unique potpourri playlist of tunes from BA's eclectic audio librairy. So I napped, sort of, to the varied sounds of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, and his great great nephew, Michael Buble, The Carpenters, Susan Boyle, George Benson and Carrie Underwood (Nirvana and Lady Gaga didn't make the cut). Of course, I was somewhat stiffer when I was awakened each time, but that could have been due to missing my Parkinson's meds at night and again in the morning.
We arrived safely, if a little late, to find the assigned gate taken and none other available causing 45 minute wait (I figured some union "work to rule" strategy) until a bus could be brought around to pick us up.  So my cousin (actually my mother's father's sister's daughter's son) who had kindly offered to pick us up had to wait an extra hour or more.  After getting settled in his parents' home (Mick and Jean - they are away until Monday) in Farnborough, Kent, we wandered along the village High Street and went into the only sit down dinner restaurant open.  We were the sole "eat in" patrons.  Despite the questionable absence of guests, we guessed things would heat up given the ready attentiveness of 6 servers for 15 tables (which proved accurate).  The Indian cuisine (Renae's first try) was excellent and hearty.
Well, it's almost 10 PM here (3 PM at home) and we "Spring Forward" here on the Greenwich Meridian tonight, thereby losing another hour of sleep, so time to take my meds and prepare for Day 2 of the European Adventure.


  1. Carol White WileyMarch 28, 2010 at 1:03 PM

    I hope you and Renee have a great trip.

  2. Bob and Renae:

    When they say hot at an Indian restaurant in the UK, they mean have been warned!

    Much love,

    Big Jerry

  3. I really enjoyed this post. Brings out the Airline geek in me.