Monday, May 17, 2010

Did You Know That The Television Show "Wings" Was Actually A Documentary?

Hello, Kind Reader.

In the intervening summer months while going to university in Halifax I'd often limp home to save money.  This usually involved make-work-project-style jobs designed to give university students just enough scratch for a coupla text books, a flat of Kraft Dinner, or at least allow us to put a few shekels towards our primary student loan in the hopes of avoiding a mid-semester tete-a-tete with a pair of large swarthy men seeking good karma.

One year I was retained for the "Festival Coast Tourism Association".  At the time Stephenville and the Port-Aux-Port peninsula in Newfoundland was going through a marketing identity crisis for potential tourism.  It was an historical site but didn't have any museums or orientation centers to promote this.  It had beautiful scenery but no infrastructure to access it safely.  It had very little to attract shoppers (unless you counted the "Arlims" on Main Street).

But it did have a pretty decent little theater festival every year and celebrations like "Une Longue Veillee" attracted a fair share of interest in French heritage.

Then it's decided!  We'll call ourselves the Festival Coast and set up a student Tourism Association to promote it!  Awesome!

A part of the job was spending a few hours at our small airport manning the tourist information booth.  Needless to say, not a lot of traffic came through but the characters that did were memorable.  As an avid people watcher, I started to make a semi-fictional log from pages from the Tourist Register to amuse myself and a co-worker who shared the same duty.  Here's a segment of that log:

DATE       TIME          FLIGHT

Aug 10      1:20pm      Air Atlantic: Twin Peaks-Halifax-Stephenville

Odd assortment of humanity emerges from aircraft.  They all look as if their original flight went down somewhere but they just dusted themselves off and hopped on the next plane that happened by.  People in neck braces.  People missing arms, legs, eyes.  Little gnarled Hobbit-people.  Looks like a David Lynch casting call.  Very interesting.         

Supplemental 1:40 pm.  

A man with more hair on his back then on his head is waiting at the "Avis" rent-a-car booth.  A present-but-bored "Tilden" employee is trying to lure the man away with obscene hand gestures but he remains slavishly loyal to "Avis" 

Intense dude who habitually screams at archaic "Donkey Kong" video game seems in the throes of turmoil.  Unbeknown to him our Robo-Commissioner is stealthily approaching him from behind with a syringe of tranquilizing drugs, and not a moment too soon.  

Cute girl with long, curly brown hair in unfortunate "Raiders" jersey and very fortunate cut-off denim shorts seems oddly out of place.  

Video game dude stalks off in a huff.  The tranq has had no apparent effect on him.  For the first time in his storied career, Robo-Commissioner is forced to draw his gun (film @ 11)

DATE       TIME          FLIGHT         

Aug 10      1:55           Air Atlantic 1453 : St. John's-Gander-Cow's Head-Jerry's Nose

Airport flooded as a grand total of three people get off flight.  I am involved in a frantic twenty-minute information exchange orgy...NOT! ("Hey, kids, remember when that was funny? No?  Ooookay, then," - your humble narrator)  

Guest #1 looks lost as if he wandered back from lunch to a construction site but got on a plane by mistake.  

Guest # 2: yet another pretty brown-haired girl in minuscule denim shorts.  Things are looking up!  

Writing and ogling briefly interrupted by woman resembling Morticia Adams, curious as to what I'm going sitting at this booth.  I glare at her until she becomes uncomfortable and slowly drifts away.  

Guest # 3 whizzed by so quick I am unable to confirm gender.  Appeared to be clad in bizarre fashion-disaster formal sweatshirt and baggy M.C. Hammer pants.  Figure moved so fast it could also legitimately make claim of "untouchable" status a la source of fashion inspiration.  

DATE       TIME         FLIGHT

Aug 11      9:00am      Supplemental

Spent bulk of night watching Clint Eastwood western.  Between lack of sleep and violet content of film I am as cordial as a rabid wolverine this morning.  

Two genetic casualties are rubbing their heads together trying to figure out how to operate the payphones.  One lady looks in purse for help, doesn't find it within so throws in the proverbial towel.  

Dude who looks like reject from "Really Me" Canadian TV anti-drug PSA walks by.  He refuses the heroin I offer and asks me if I want to hop on a skateboard, get some pizza and play some "b-ball" with him.  As politely as possible I tell him to go f#@& himself.  

Another woman is denied phone gratification.  Is there something wrong with the phones or their potential operators?  

Unclaimed "Children of the Corn"-like brats are beginning to coalesce around my booth.  I will proceed to set out some poisoned "Spaghetti-O's" to address the problem.  

Actually helped someone looking for ferry information.  Go figure.  

Chick who announces flights sounds like she's been gargling with battery acid.

DATE       TIME          FLIGHT

Aug 11      9:30am      Air Atlantic Flight 1459 from "Gurgle...nargle...(unintelligible)"   

Cabbie who looks like he's not old enough to shave let alone hold a legitimate driver's license awaits new crop of potential passengers with vain expectant hope.  When no fares materialize he slinks out of the terminal presumably to go back to his vehicle and listen to Pink Floyd and play with a loaded revolver.  

Passengers themselves look like they're headed to a convention celebrating dreadful television show "Thirtysomething" ("Hey, kids, remember when that show was on T.V.?  No?  Ooookay, I'll just shut up now," - your increasingly crusty-sounding host).  Watching wanna-be yuppies acting obnoxious forces me to ask cabbie to borrow his revolver.   

Big, tall, imposing-looking dude who looks like a hit man for the Greek mafia approaches and asks where he can find my boss, Kelsey (named changed to protect the innocent).  During our exchange he chain-smokes and seems oblivious to a pronounced facial tic.  Since Kelsey is such a good friend, I give the mountainoid precise directions to his office and even helpfully provide a convenient map.  Who am I to impede a reunion between old friends? (Heh!  Heh!)  

I then proceed to convince a bewildered English gent who resembles a geriatric James Bond that he's still a member of the known universe.  He asks me some obscure questions about a rock quarry near Port Aux Basque so I follow standard procedure and laugh in his face.  He wanders away muttering thanks, seemingly content that at least he still has one foot in the material world (more or less).  With him is a diminutive midget bodyguard/manservant who seems prepared to protect him from enemy S.P.E.C.T.R.E. agents.  Which is good, because Stephenville is over-run with the bastards.  

Aug 11 1:00 pm.  Supplemental.

Although this is only the second day for my journal I believe I have stumbled upon a very therapeutic endeavor.  I've discovered that writing about this bizarre purgatory is a wonderful catharsis.  And, oh, yeah, it helps kill time too.  

Actually helped (?) a charming East Indian family from Gander (??) select an itinerary of "Things to see" on the Port aux Port Peninsula (???).    That's a grand total of two people I've helped today.  I feel like going out and getting drunk in celebration.  

Woman with facial mole the size of an Eggo takes a seat close by.  Stay tuned!  

DATE       TIME        FLIGHT

Aug 11      9:30am      Air Atlantic Flight 1458 from Half-a-lax

Very casual crowd.  Perhaps the greatest assemblage of boring human beings gathered together in one place.  I fear a vortex of banality will open up to another plane of existence any moment and suck all of us inside. 

Mole-lady re-unites with her less-than-enthusiastic husband.  How touching!  

Man who looks like the kinda guy to get beat up in a "Twisted Sister" video asks my favorite question in the world: "Hey!  Is all this stuff free?"  I ask him to sign the register but this doesn't "register" with him.  

Just finished talking to two pompous Americans and two relatively civil guides (turns out "Mark Metcalf" there is one of the jackass Yanks).  One guy has lost his suitcase so they've been loitering around blasting me with rapid-fire questions that I'm forced to bulls#!^ through ("Hey, at least I sound like I know what I'm talking about!").  When the topic of Gros Morne National Park comes up and I let it leak that I've never been there the most obnoxious specimen says: "Typical!  Live here all their lives and have never seen the attractions!"

I vow to recover the prick's suitcase first and replace all his personal effects with incriminating lost and found detritus: leather gimp suit, ball gag and vibrating dildo dubbed "The Anal Intruder".

Now I know this all sounds churlish, but there is little truth in what you just read.  I was still a pretty shy, retiring kid at the time so the sass featured here is not just exaggerated but non-existent.  Anyone who knows me can vouch that I don't have a rude bone in my body, but sometimes it doesn't stop the sort of thoughts we all have when working with our fellow homo sapiens!   

Truth be told, especially in retrospect, I loved this job.  The airport gig only took a few hours of the day and the rest of my time was spent actually drumming up awareness about our region: doing press, composing reports and analyzing trends in our area.  Since it wasn't my employer's money being spent, often I'd be granted a level of autonomy as a twenty year old kid that I assumed I'd be afforded for the rest of my life as an adult.  These assignments left me with a lifetime of unreasonable expectations regarding employer trust, employee independence and freedom of process and procedure.      

Looking back at this, I'm stunned by how relatively idyllic these tentative steps were towards becoming a working man.   I actually enjoyed more autonomy, responsibility and leeway as a twenty-year old kid than as an adult pushing forty at my last gig.

I'd wager that's sadder than any sight in that airport...  

EPIC: McCarthy's Bar: A Journey of Discovery In Ireland  If you found my descriptions of the airport denizen's funny (which mean's you're going to hell, by the way), check out this book by Pete McCarthy.  The chapter "Boats and Planes" nearly killed me...

FAIL:  Tread carefully, here there be dragons!  (Not to mention an inordinate amount of people who believe that pants are optional when you go shopping)

Also, here's an older comic I did a few years ago.  Hopefully you can see a bit of progress compared to the one I hope to post a bit later this week: 

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