So yesterday morning I got up and ready for what turned out to be a long and annoyingly eventful day of traveling. I left the Toronto apartment I squat in to head to the airport around 11am EST, and arrived at indieWIRE’s Park City abode at 9pm MST, which made for exactly 12 hours of travelling.
The cab ride to the airport in Toronto got things off to a wacky start. My driver immediately showed himself as the chatty type, something I’m never good at dealing with unless drunk. Finding it very amusing I was older than him despite “looking like a child,” he starting asking about where I was going and why. He seemed to mistake my clear statement my journalism was of the arts & entertainment variety and said he wanted to “pick my brian” about Israel’s Gaza campaign. “My opinion on that is not really that formed,” I said, before giving a brief spiel about violence and religion.. He, on the other hand, had lots to say.
Driver: Do you believe in God?
Me: Uh.. no.
Driver: Well, can I tell you something? Do you want to know the reason I’m driving a cab and not doing one of a dozen illegal things that could be making me much more money?
Me: Because you believe in God?
Driver: Yes. If I didn’t believe in the afterlife, I would be dealing drugs or whatever else.
Me: Well, I totally respect that. I just don’t personally believe in God. And I think I still have a decent moral standing despite that.
Me: Um, I don’t know? I look out for my fellow person, or whatever. I want this world to be peaceful. I don’t want to deal drugs.
Driver: You realize you are going to hell.
It was also heavily snowing on one of Canada’s deadliest stretches of highways, so the last 20 minutes of the ride was pretty intense. He compared Jesus to the 9/11 bombers. Said Christianity was dead and that the only religion God believed should remain is Islam. Told me all about his role in the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. And then I realized he was trying to convert me, and I was trapped in a car with him. And didnt want to get too aggressive in my dismay, as my life was in his hands. “Its easy to convert,” he said as we parked outside the US terminal of the airport. Then he started writing all this info about websites I should go to and books I should read. I threw out the paper as soon as he drove away (the last thing I wanted customs to find at that point was a bunch of information about converting to Islam), but I remember this one, in case anyone’s curious.
Toronto airport was pretty uneventful. No delays. Lots of magazine reading. Etc. An hour later, I was off to my layover in Minneapolis. Unfortunately, this included sitting next to a very unfriendly, very obese man. I totally emphasized with his situation initially, and figured I’m a pretty little guy and could make due. But he did not make any effort to return the empathy for my dealing with having a little under half a seat, and was horribly rude to this adorable old flight attendant who had given the safety instructions with a pizazz that should have made everyone smile.
Flight Attendant: Care for a beverage?
Obese Guy: Do you have an Orange Soda Pop?
Flight Attendant: We have Orange Juice?
Obese Guy: No, I want the pop. Got any Root Beer?
Flight Attendant: Sorry. All we have is Pepsi, Diet Pespi, 7UP… I know what you mean though, I love Orange pop. As a kid I used to..
Obese Guy: I’ll have a Coke.
Flight Attendant: Pepsi okay?
Obese Guy: Whatever
After that I made sure to push my way to two thirds of a seat.
We landed in Minneapolis early, and I had two and half hours to spare in the airport. I found my way outside for some good old fashioned chain smoking, which was problematized by the fact that it was -30 degrees.
Back inside, and through the most friendly bunch of US security guards I’ve ever met (maybe it was just the Minnesota accent), I roamed through the airport with my Caribou Coffee in search of my top priority: Larry Craig’s bathroom. I had, quite creepily, researched which one it was prior to the flight, just so I could say “I peed in the bathroom Larry Craig got arrested for soliciting sex in!” Which now, I can.
After thoroughly washing my hands, I boarded for my flight to Mormon City, though was surprised to find no visible Mormons on the plane. Last year my direct flight from Toronto to SLC (which doesnt exist anymore) was full of well-suited young lads returning from converting vulnerable Canadians over to the dark side.
Three hours and ten rounds of Monopoly for Mac later, I arrived in Salt Lake City and sought out my shuttle van to Park City. It was all pretty quick and painless, in contrast to the shuttle ride.
My driver, Jeff, gave me the displeasure of getting chatty driver bookends for my journey. Though thankfully not interested in telling me I’m going to hell, Jeff had a LOT to say. In a half hour, I learned he had spinal problems as a child, which made him “all the more adventurous” as an adult. He build energy efficient houses back East until his marriage fell apart, then he came to Utah to fly hot air balloons. He had skied on all seven continents (My only comment the entire trip: “They have ski hills in Australia.” To which Jeff replied: “I was hoping you’d ask that…”), and when he turned 50 a few years back, travelled to all fifty states. He made lots of comments in the vein of “I like travelling. And that’s why I like this gig. Because I get to hear from people like me.. Out here seeing the world.” Except he obviously didn’t like to hear from people “like him.” Myself, and the two women also in the shuttle basically said nothing the entire time. At least the first woman seemed genuinely interested in what Jeff had to say. When she got out, me and the other woman just gave blank stares. He even tried to show us photos on his digital camera of his trip to Argentina to try and get us engaged. We both declined.
Now, I do understand. Jeff’s lonely. He never remarried, as he noted many times, and I normally might have at least pretended to listen to them in another circumstance. But I had a long day, and I’m guessing, so had Woman #2, and we just wanted to stare blankly out the window in silence and thank god the day was over. Which a little bit later, it was. And now I’m in the midst of a nice pre-festival day of planning and prep, which mostly involves lying on a couch with my laptop. Which has more than made up for yesterday.