O Canada

So, finally, the announcement hit the wires that we were acquired by Xandros, a Canadian company which specialises in an integrated Linux distribution. I’ll leave better people than me to talk about synergies and paradigms but it means the product that I’ve worked with since 1996 continues.

A side-benefit of this is that I get to go to Ottawa for a couple of weeks to train some of the engineers there.

So, I’m writing this from an Ottawa hotel room after having my first experience of US domestic air travel that didn’t leave the best taste in my mouth 🙁

There’s no direct flight from SFO to YOW ( Ottawa ) so I had to change at Detroit.

I was scheduled to fly on Saturday at 12:40pm which was a reasonable time to fly although I wouldn’t land in Ottawa until 10:49pm Eastern. I tried checking in online on Fridy and got a notification that they’d cancelled my flight and rescheduled me. Slight panic ensued as I realised that they’d brought forward my flight by 12 hours which meant that I would need to be at the airport by 10:40pm on Friday. I wasn’t packed 🙂 Not only that but I would have to make 2 stopovers to reach my final destination….I don’t think so !

So, I had to contact the airline to find out what they could do about it. The problem was, the flight was booked through Xandros’ travel agent and he couldn’t do anything other than tell me to contact the airline. I tried the airline’s 1-800 number and got through to a recorded message explaining how their call volume was busy and they couldn’t process my call at that time. Then they hung up.

Because I live so close to the airport, I drove down there and explained the situation to them at the ticketing desk only to be told that they couldn’t do anything about tickets from there and I would have to call their ticketing line. Pause for breath….

Luckily, they had some magic number they could dial and I was connected with a helpful customer service agent who rebooked me on another flight at 7am the next morning but I would be flying to Newark and from there to Ottawa.

The next morning, my taxi arrived at 5:30am and I got to the airport to find that the flight was delayed for 1 hour because the crew got in late and they have to have 8 hours beauty sleep by law. Well…maybe they shouldn’t have stayed out partying for so long :-S

The electronic check-in desk was telling me that they found an alternate route for me if I still caught the SFO to Newark flight, I could then get the Newark flight to Ottawa that would be taking off 3 HOURS BEFORE THE SFO FLIGHT LANDED !!!

Pause for breath….

The ( unsmiling ) woman behind the check-in desk looked at my times and said I would still be able to make the Newark to Ottawa flight because it would be 40 minutes between landing and next take off. So, I got my boarding pass and sat down to wait for the delayed flight to take off.

That flight was pretty uneventful. I dozed off, sandwiched between 2 complete strangers.

We arrived on time but it took 20 minutes longer to taxi and park at gate C90 and I needed to be at gate C130. So, I walked quickly and got to my gate, looked up at the flight display and saw that gate C130 was a flight to Miami.

I had to wait around for another 5 minutes before the drone behind the desk acknowledged that I was standing in her presence. She checked the flight and told me it was delayed for 2 hours.

3 and a half hours later, we finally took off in the smallest plane I’ve been in. Luckily, I was sitting on my own and my bag, which was too big to fit in the overhead lockers ( not because it’s bigger than the allowed standard but because the plane was small and the overhead lockers are not standard size ) got it’s own seat next to me.

The flight was over before I could blink; 1 hour wheels up to wheels down according to the pilot. I sailed through immigration, which was basically: why are you here, where are you staying, who are you working for, and picked up my bags.

I wasn’t able to pick up a rental car from the airport because they were sold out for that day and the hotel shuttles didn’t go to my hotel so I needed to get a taxi. Before I could do that, I needed to get cash from the ATM.

Two machines later, I had enought cash for a taxi. The first one was because I didn’t read that they wouldn’t accept Mastercard. The slogan is usually “For everything else there’s Mastercard”. The fine print reads “except when you need to get cash for a Canadian taxi and it’s late in the evening”.

CAN $ 40 later, I arrived at the hotel. Without a car I couldn’t go exploring for a candy store to get soda and nibbles so I stayed in the hotel bar and got drunk with 2 of the bartenders and their friends. Saturday was a Dave convention because everyone sitting at the bar that evening was called Dave. Yes, really !

As the bar was Irish, I had my regulation 3 Guinness minimum and I was introduced to Boots (?) which is a shot of Sambuca and Jack Daniels. This must be downed in one. I think I’ve found a competitor to Jagermeister.

Ottawa is on the East coast so they are 3 hours ahead of Pacific time. This meant I slept until 10am the next morning (helped along by the alcohol) except for the 2 minutes where I couldn’t find the alarm clock at 6:25am where the previous guest had set it and nobody turned it off. 6:25 is really 3:25am for me so I *really* appreciated that one. Staying asleep until 10am is a luxury. However, if I’m going to attend the office on time *and* have the complimentary continental breakfast from the hotel, I’ve had to set the alarm for 7am (which is really 4am) so I’m going to be a real barrel of laughs.

This week I will be mostly on my own in the evenings but next week more of m’colleagues will be joining me so it’ll be like old times when I used to come out to San Mateo.

I’m sure I can interest them in some Boots.

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