Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Trip to Québec

I took a trip to Québec City this week. It was eventful and boring all at the same time.

I had to get up at 5:00 Monday morning, in order to catch my plane, which means that the week started off very badly. Nobody likes being awake at that time, especially me. The cab was scheduled to pick me up at 6:00, and when I looked out my window at 5:55, I realized that it had snowed, and the driveway and sidewalk were covered in snow. I wish I had looked out sooner; I would have shovelled and salted, but by the time I noticed, it was too late.

The cab was a couple of minutes late, but getting to the airport, checking in, and going through security, were all a breeze. The plane was very nice, too; it was a CRJ-705, which has a personal entertainment system, with movies/TV on demand, in every seat. So I watched the first 30 minutes or so of the Bourne Ultimatum. (I knew I wouldn’t be able to finish it, but I’d already seen it, so I wasn’t worried about it. Also, there was a chance I might get to see the rest on the flight back.) Unfortunately, although I’d chosen to see the movie in English, it had Japanese subtitles. (I think it was Japanese. It looked like Kanji, to my untrained eye, but I’m very ignorant about Asian languages, so I wouldn’t be surprised at all if I were wrong.) I tried and tried to switch languages, and get rid of the subtitles, but I couldn’t figure out how.

Most of the day Monday was uneventful. I didn’t have access to my email for most of the day, which was very good—it meant I could concentrate on what I was there to talk about, instead of getting interrupted by the many, many problems back at the office in Toronto. (Many.)

We went out for lunch to a nice steak place. One of my colleagues wanted to order veal, but the waitress warned him that it wasn’t really veal, it was horse. As a slight aside, I found it interesting that people were so mortified that they’d have horse on the menu—especially since it was replacing veal, which many people find cruel in its own right. But the person involved decided against eating horse, because his daughter used to have a horse, and he figured she’d never forgive him if he ate it.

The afternoon was still uneventful, and then we went out for dinner. There were four of us—two Québecers and two Torontonians—and we took two cars. The drive was a bit unnerving, though, because when we left the parking lot, it was impossible to see out the windshields. There was so much ice, inside the windows and out, that you couldn’t see. But our hosts were used to it, I guess, and they didn’t have a problem. We had an excellent dinner, with a waitress who had a deep, raspy, smoker’s voice. (Just like the waitress I had last time I went to Québec!)

We then went for a drive, and one of my Québecer colleagues showed us the town. Which is, I must say, beautiful. It’s the oldest city in Canada—this year will be their 400th anniversary—so there were a lot of very beautiful buildings to see. I’d like to go back some time in the summer, and see the city when it’s not covered in snow.

When we got back to the hotel, I arranged with my colleague to meet at 8:30 the next morning, and we’d go and grab some breakfast, before going to the office. The room had complimentary wireless internet access, so I did a quick check of my email, before setting my alarm for 7:00. (Because that would give me enough time to meet my colleague for 8:00.)

My hotel was the Hotel Pur. It’s a very nice hotel, although a bit more “ultra modern” than I usually like. Unfortunately, it was impossible to keep my room warm. I had to turn the temperature up to approximately the temperature of the surface of the sun, so that the room would get boiling hot, and then the heat would turn off—and the room would immediately become ice cold. Until the next time the heat would kick in, and raise it to the temperature of the core of the Earth, and then turn off and start the cycle over again.

I got up at 7:00 Tuesday morning, and could barely get out of bed. In fact, for some reason, I had more trouble getting up than I had Monday, when I had to get up at 5:00. Who can explain the mysteries of the human body? (And/Or mind…) Because of the cold, I had a terrible shower, because the bathroom was frigid. (And I had one of those showers that are either boiling or freezing, but never warm.) But I managed to get ready, get packed, and get to my colleague’s door for 8:00. Now, if you’ve been reading closely, you may have noticed that I arranged with my colleague to meet him at 8:30, not 8. Which he pointed out with gentle good humour. Luckily, he was ready to go anyway, so we were able to have a nice leisurely breakfast, before showing up at the office.

Tuesday was also pretty uneventful, during the day. We worked, and we got a lot done. We had a good lunch, at a Thai place. I felt bad when I couldn’t understand the waitress, but then one of my French colleagues assured me that he couldn’t, either. I took a chance, when she asked me about the soup, and decided to get it spicy, but my gamble paid off; it was excellent. (If you like spicy food, it probably wouldn’t have been spicy enough for you, but it was just right for me.)

We weren’t sure when to leave the office, to get to the airport in time to catch our flight. As it turned out, we got there much earlier than we needed to. (Better safe than sorry, and all that.) I called Andrea, to let her know that I was coming home, and I made the mistake of asking her what the weather was like:

  • INT: the airport
  • serna remembers, at the last minute, that he needs to call Andrea before the plane leaves. He pulls out his cell phone.
  • serna
  • Hey there.
  • Andrea
  • Hey. How was the trip?
  • They have more small talk.
  • serna
  • So how’s the weather there?
  • Andrea
  • It’s terrrible!
  • serna
  • (with trepidation)
  • Oh no. What do you mean?
  • Andrea
  • Freezing rain.
  • serna
  • (hangs his head)
  • Crap. That’s exactly the wrong answer. If there’s any weather that will cause them to delay or cancel the flight, it’s that.
  • Okay, well, I’ll keep you updated, and if the flight gets delayed, I’ll let you know.
Luckily, however, the flight was not delayed. I wasn’t sure if we’d get another jet with the personal entertainment, but we did, so I was quite pleased. Unfortunately, when I went looking for The Bourne Ultimatum, they didn’t have it. So I ended up watching much of Live Free or Die Hard, instead. And, as luck would have it, again, I ended up with Japanese subtitles. I kept glancing at my colleague’s screen, to see if he had the same problem, but he didn’t. I don’t know what I could have possibly been doing wrong, but I’m convinced that it was me, not the TV. It’s just too much of a coincidence that I’d get two TVs with the same weird anomaly.

And that was my trip.