I gotta admit my initial impressions of flying in this brand new world of contagion is favourable. For one, crowds are decidedly thin and noticeably courteous.
When I got to the counter in Victoria, Air Canada had 4 or 5 agents, all occupied with murmurs and travellers getting first hand information on the latest flight changes.
I was alone waiting my turn and then was quickly motioned to the next available agent for an update of my own.
The young lady immediately and pleasantly proceeded to inform me of my options. She spoke in a well rehearsed manner of a very familiar situation. Many flights were canceled, including mine, most of the passengers scheduled for all the grounded flights were already home. I quickly and gratefully agreed to her proposed new itinerary, checked my bag, and made a point of thanking her clearly and with genuine sincerity. I’d gotten the nice bug too.
I was among the stragglers, a quickly shrinking number of souls still not yet returned to where we lived, or needed to be instead.
A couple hours later, our rescheduled plane left the ground less than half full. The reroute meant Calgary was no longer a stopover, leaving just one, in Vancouver. The time saved was in effect booked against my delayed start out of Victoria and ETA into Edmonton, my final destination, changed by less than 15 minutes.
Checked in and boarding passes in hand I sauntered back outside into a clear blue day still warming from a single digit start on the plus side of freezing. It was glorious. Apart from newly arrived travellers, their journeys essentially over, no-one else was going outside.
I claimed a scrap of grass behind the Yellow Cabs that looked painted on the curb. Silent drivers watched shadows crawl across the pavement, every hour bringing fewer and fewer customers. More and more yellow cars slowly rolled up to the end of the line.
Sunshine and a soft breeze helped me forget how different the World got, seemingly overnight.
The warmth was scattered with the chitter of birdsong, like the returning rental cars, sporadic and a reminder.
The chirping birds a message of rebirth and Spring, the rentals, a solemn and random processional of wheeled pall-bearers, as if each delivered their own tiny bit of the Apocalypse.
No bustle. No motion.
No airplane noise from take offs.
I Stretched. Wrote. Stretched.
Strolled back inside.
Security was quicker than the time spent retying my work boots on the other side.
Borders are closing and society is reeling from repeated exhortations and fortunes shrinking as fast as the circles they travel in.
Everyone Is on a war footing.
There’s foreboding churning invisibly beneath our feet and under our breath.
Danger still new and finding its legs.
I sense a seriousness and a common threat.
A resolute determination in every pilgrim coming and going.
Togetherness long forgotten.
Everyone shares the same uncertainty.
This will bring us back a bit. This Concern will help us all retreat, at least some, maybe more than could be imagined right now, from what has been the most ugly part of today’s reality.
The emerging hatred. The blame. The growing rage.
The swelling flood of tears in the face of despair.
The Reign of the Common Cause seeps from our screens minute by minute. Billion by billion.
A foe we can all hate.
An enemy that fears no God and wears any colour skin.
This Fight, however it comes, will reset the bar.
I read a bit at the gate.
A man speaking on his phone like a patient lecturer tried to instruct a silent listener on how to complete a complicated task. I only heard parts of the plan in a rising and falling cadence. The orator walked toward me, then abreast my seat facing the planes crouched outside, he turned and made his way back to the other end of departures. His pace, the same methodical rhythm as the intricate instructions.
I walked back toward security myself, just before boarding, for a drink from the water fountain. Might as well. No else is using it.
In the line-up to get on the plane I couldn’t find my boarding pass. I searched for it with an accelerating hand motion of patting then digging into my pockets. I looked in my camera bag knowing it wasn’t there.
About half way back to informing security they’d forgotten to return my boarding pass, 90 seconds of brisk walking, I spotted it on the floor, ignored and waiting for me to return and pick it up.
I boarded off the tarmac into the back door. No line-up. Only a couple people ahead of me going to the front entrance. Nobody following up the short steps behind me.
On the plane we looked like a typical smattering of Canadian air travellers, mostly silent, practically dressed, assured in our reserve, and no doubt accustomed to known outcomes.The air of uncertainty thickened the silence and quickened our urge to assist with carry on luggage. Our unease made being patient easy.
Times are changing.
Tomorrow is more uncertain than anyone dares predict.
The future will someday look a lot like the recent past, it’s just going to take awhile.
I don’t like what’s happening.
People acting like they were born inherently good gives me hope.