Thursday, July 29, 2010
"Sir. . . "
I was gonna wear a new skirt and a new top, and as I often do, I laid them out on the bed and I asked my wife if she thought that they went together. She looked at the proposed outfit for a moment before she answered.
“Maybe . . . . on second thought, no, I don’t think so.” she said. She hadn’t seemed all that confident in her answer though, so I thought I’d make my own call on it.
“Well, I think I’m gonna have to buck you on this one because I think they do and that’s what I’m gonna wear tomorrow!” I told her with a grin.
“Ok, it’s your call!” she replied, while walking out the door. She was probably afraid that if she stayed, she’d get hit by shrapnel from the Kim bomb in the room.
The joke was on me though, because the next morning when I put the outfit on, I had to agree with her – damn it! Off came the new top, and on went one of my standard fall backs – a black knit blouse that goes with just about everything.
Absolutely nothing of interest happened going through the airports. The only amusing moment was listening to a mother talking to her children behind me as the plane started to land..
“Yay! The plane is starting to drop! This is SO boring!” says the little boy loudly. Very quickly I hear the mother offer him some advice.
“Please DON’T say ‘we’re dropping’ - say ‘we’re landing’ instead!”
Of course everyone in ear shot busted up laughing.
By the time I had settled in to my hotel room, I’d been up and running for over 14 hours and looked and felt tired, and so I called it a day. I got showered up and went back to caterpillar mode for dinner.
The following morning I headed for the Canadian border to go to the University of Waterloo where I was to repair an instrument. Apparently the Canadians have decided that my prior trips had gone too easily and so made this one tougher. The female immigration agent at the drive through check point grilled me on where I was going and why. When I told her I was going to perform a warranty repair for the University, she wanted paper work showing that the instrument was under warranty. I explained that the instrument was several years old and technically beyond it’s warranty, but that it suffered from a known manufacturing flaw and so we were repairing it free of charge. She still wanted something in writing describing this, and so I pulled up the service report on my laptop and showed it to her, though I had no way to give her a copy. She grilled me for 20 minutes and then sent me to their Customs office where THEY grilled me for another 35 minutes. At last, he agreed I was probably OK to go through, but that since I was carrying over $10,000 in parts and tools in my standard repair kit, I had to go to their “Commercial” office and complete paper work there. Now at the commercial office, they grilled me for yet another 30 minutes!
“I’m sure the University has a broker for this sort of thing. We need you to contact them and have them send us the paper work showing that this is a warranty.” The man tells me after he had grilled me for half an hour. This was the last straw for me though – I’d just had enough.
“I know you guys are just doing your job, and I’ve no complaint with that, but this whole thing has just exceeded my maximum allowed pain in the ass factor. By the time the professor I’m dealing with finds this broker, they find and complete the paper work you want and get it to you, I will be missing my flight home. I wanted to take care of him, but I guess he can just mail the damned thing back to us in the States and we’ll fix it there for him.” I told him. I was mad as hell, but still managed to say it calmly and politely.
He looked at me a second, told me to wait there, and a moment later I hear him talking to a supervisor. Soon she approaches me, asks me all of the same questions, and then tells me I am free to continue on to the University! What do you know – we finally made progress when I threatened to take my toys and go home!
After flying 14 hours, being delayed by their immigration for 2 hours, then driving another 2 hours to get there, it took me a whopping 2 hours to repair the instrument. I thought I was going to have time to go out as Kim, perhaps even to the see Niagara Falls, but I wound up in a huge line of cars trying to enter the US, and by the time I got through that, it was too late and I was too tired to worry about going anywhere.
On the flight home the next morning, I had thought that I was looking pretty good, but when I ordered a Chocolate Mocha, the woman at the counter started every question with “Sir”.
“sir, do you want large or extra-large?”
“Sir, do you want whipped cream on it?”
I might have thought that she was just being rude, but I heard her speak to all of the customers behind me the very same way. English was clearly not her first language and so perhaps it is the custom where she is from.
“Sir. . .”
“Sir . . .”
“Sir. . . “
Oh well . . .