Sweating my way to Canada (pt. 2)

The Strait of Georgia.

Yesterday, I wrote about the beginning of my travels to Vancouver Island. Read that first if you haven’t already.

Also, people have been asking me where Vancouver Island is.

It’s here.

We left off at me getting on my first flight to Montreal. I walked onto the plane dripping with sweat and shame.

Flight 2: Montreal to Vancouver

Montreal is just north of New York state. The flight there from DC only takes an hour and a half.

We flew there on the smallest plane I’ve ever been on, besides when I went skydiving. I was half-expecting the pilot to say, “Good morning passengers! Thank you for attending my very first flight. I’ve never done this before and I’m excited to try. Luckily, no one will notice if this Fiat of an airplane goes missing. Message your loved ones and then put your phones on airplane mode. Seatbelts on please.”

Despite that, we made it over the Canadian border with few casualties. I even had the fortune of having an empty seat next to me—the poor man’s first class.

I had a short layover before my flight to Vancouver, which I thought was lovely. But as time ticked on my anxiety came pouring back in. I forgot about customs. I forgot about delays. I soon welcomed a three-hour layover.

We landed in Montreal and to my horror, the plane just sat there.

Ten minutes. Twenty minutes. Thirty minutes…

The captain came on and spoke for about 60 seconds, first in English and then in French. I’m not exaggerating at all when I say I didn’t catch a single word of what was said.

Neither did the other passengers. I looked around and saw confused and frustrated faces. A coup was boiling. I faced the woman in the row across and we exchanged glances. Our energy was: If I attempt to overthrow this plane do you have my back? I absolutely did.

It was at this time I was certain I would miss my next flight. Then again, my anxiety was certain of that when I got out of bed at 5 in the morning.

We finally got off the tarmac and docked. They said the bag I had to check in DC would be coming up the mini-elevator just outside. I walked off the plane and stood in the cluster of 15 others waiting for their bags.

The tension was palpable. I wasn’t the only one who had a quick connecting flight to catch. It was kind of a bonding experience. I would’ve loved to start an army with those folks.

An agent came up to the metal elevator and tried to pull the door open. Nothing.

I wanted to offer to help since I’m so incredibly strong and healthy and handsome. But I was in the back of the crowd.

I heard three more yanks of the door handle and felt the tension grow even stronger. This dude couldn’t open the gate.

He walked away and passengers began trying to open it themselves. After a minute, he returned with one of the flight attendants. She pushed some buttons but nothing was happening. I considered leaving my bag and spending a week on the island without clothes. I’m a minimalist anyway.

After 15 minutes, they finally managed to open the elevator and basically chucked our luggage at us. We were all grateful for this. I said, “Thanks guys,” and for the first time in my life…I began sprinting in an airport.

I’ve wondered for years how unprepared a person has to be to jolt through a terminal. I’ll never judge another person ever again.

I made it through the mile-long labyrinth following the “Connections” signs. They might as well have said, “Lol fuck you Dillan welcome to Canada.”

Thank you. Thank you, Montreal.

I sped through customs which I’m sure looked sketchy as hell. The first two machines wouldn’t read my passport so I had the kind woman help me out. I said, “Sorry, I’m going to miss my flight.”

She looked at me with a face that said: Oh, you’re the one who has a flight to catch. We’ve never had one of those.

I made it through, constantly checking my watch. My flight had boarded already and was taking off in ten minutes.

I passed each airport boss like a video game and was walking down a long corridor toward what would end up being my final foe.

She was checking passports and having all the other frantic passengers move to the right. When she pointed me toward the left I was confused.

“You’ve been randomly selected to take a COVID test, sir.”


I’ve been heartbroken before in my life. I’ve been betrayed. But this…

I have no idea what my face looked like but for the first time in my life, I turned into that entitled customer.

“Miss, I totally understand, and I’m so sorry, but is there any way I can not take this? I’m going to miss my flight. Like, if I take this test I will miss my flight.”

She told me rules are rules and offered to help me sign into the portal to take my test. I pushed the iPad’s buttons passive-aggressively as if doing so would foster sympathy. Yes I DO fucking live in Annapolis. No I DON’T know the Canadian area code of where I’m staying. Fuck you Canada!

I got to the doctor and asked her to shove those q-tips up my nose as quickly as she could. I thanked her and bolted out of the facility.

I can’t remember the last time I sprinted as fast as I could in a non-exercise or sports context. My footsteps and breathing were so loud people were getting out of my way 30 feet ahead. I dropped my boarding passes. I dropped my neck pillow twice.

I was a mess.

My gate was at the very edge of the terminal. Gate 8. I saw the sign for it. I was cramping up. Just keep running. You’re right there.

My flight departed at 2:15. It was 2:15 on the dot.

As I ran up to the gate, I heard, “To Vancouver?”

“Yes,” I exhaled…

“You’re too late,” she replied.


There it was. My deepest fear realized. All that stress and work and sweat. I had failed the mission.

She said, “Did you want to get to Vancouver Island tonight?” It took every ounce of my being to not respond, “Yeah, that’s actually why I booked my flight for today.”

But all that came out was a deflated and defeated “…Yes please.”

I hunched over the desk. I felt lost. I had lost. She got me a new flight to Toronto, then to Vancouver, and then to the island. It added five hours to my day.

“Thanks, Carol,” I whimpered as I read her nametag. “You’re welcome,” she responded, business as usual. “Sorry you missed your flight.”

“Me too,” I said.

As I began walking to my new gate, I looked out the window and saw the plane I was supposed to be on edge away to take off.

I moped my way to a seat, updated my friend who was picking me up on the island, and played a game of online chess.

Stay tuned for part three, where I’ll stop complaining and dive into the lessons and insights I’ve gained from this day.