Calgary to Osaka
Sandeep asked me about the cats when he moved in several months ago, I informed them that the boys were in fact brothers and had always lived in the house, to wit it is their house. For the rest of his time living with us he ardently believed the cats to be female by virtue of their species… no amount of explanation could dissuade the long-held belief that all cats are female and all dogs male, I attempted to explain the absurd biology of it, the fact that cats do not in fact give birth to litters of puppies and kittens etc, in short this man may in fact be the epicenter of stupidity for not just earth but rather the entire universe.
I arrived at the airport and attempted to lose my font of idiocy in the crowd, but alas despite having entirely different destinations and gates as well as no conceivable reason to follow the fellow who has done his very best to ignore him for months he doggedly followed me to my gate until I switched directions in a heavy crowd and disappeared into a store that sold plethora maple products. Ensuring I was no longer followed I arrived at my gate to find the computer unable to print my ticket and in fact unable to recognize the existence of my flight. This led to my finding one of the only humans present in the quest for information.
Turns out that there was a hurricane (Sandy) on the eastern seaboard and the airline employee explained that in fact so many planes had been grounded out east that they were consolidating flights until they could move them out of harms way. My flight was cancelled and I was given a ticket for the same flight the following day. The irony of my plans becoming far more complicated than necessary due to Sandy was in fact not lost on me. So I went home.
I returned to the airport the following day again at 5am, this time in a much better mood having been able to relax and enjoy the ride. Preparing to board the plane I noticed some odd artwork that was bordering between disturbing and simply terrible. As we sat upon the tarmac watching thick heavy steam form around the slowly warming engines I was reminded that no sane person would choose to live in such a climate, a fact that was reinforced as the blades began hurling chunks of ice at the unfortunate bastard operating the de-icing spray. At some point I was alerted to the fact that my seat will function as a flotation device, which could have been comforting had this leg of our journey not been entirely overland.
When the plane left the ground it became apparent that the clouds above us were in fact not merely clouds but some kind of ether with the consistency of bad soup, the windows streamed with a sudden accumulation of precipitation and the engines whined loudly as our small craft slowly rose through the brick like mass of fog alight with iridescent blues and purples. Within seconds the city below had vanished leaving us with the uneasy sense that there was no longer up nor down and the possibility that we had in fact crossed over into the twilight zone seemed suddenly less impossible than it had a few moments before.
Our crew consisted of the surliest pair of flight attendants I have ever had the misfortune of mocking before a two-hour flight. In my defence, the coffee was indeed lukewarm at best and my comment that in the case of turbulence at least I would retain the use of my genitals was directed at the fellow seated next to me and his concurrence was in fact what was heard by the sky waitress in question, who proceeded to bring me endlessly hotter and more bitter cups of coffee for the duration of the flight in what I assume was meant as an indirect attack upon my person through the intermediary of my kidneys. This reminded me of one of the small joys of air travel, relieving oneself at 30,000 feet, a feat normally impossible for all but the bravest of avian.
Upon arrival in San Francisco I was accosted by the TSA and informed it was required for me to fill out an absurd form asking questions like purpose and place of stay in the US, I jokingly alerted the agent to the laughable stupidity of this form being given to those in transit to other locations only to be informed that I was ‘reading it wrong’ to which my sarcasm ran unchecked and I replied “silly me thinking this was English and meant what was written, it’s clearly ‘Murican and means whatever sentence the dullard with a badge manages to put together” this resulted in the most intensive screening a person with only carry-on containing only clothes has ever received. When all was said and done they had unsurprisingly found my pants to in fact not be contraband much to their dismay and I was sent along to the united boarding gate for Osaka.
There was to be a few hours between the flight to San Francisco however it was somewhat delayed and I arrived at my connecting gate as the plane was about to board, but having a few minutes to kill with no real purpose in mind I approached the counter and began to chat up the women behind the counter, one of whom was wearing an adorable panda hat as seen below. As a resultant factor of charm, good looks, or perhaps the fact that the plane was in fact not entirely full led me to being bumped up to some absurd seating class adjacent to but not first.
As the plane began filling with passengers it became apparent that my seat was at the intersection of all the paths the flight attendants take to reach various areas of the plane. One such attendant, Inez, was seated in the jump seat directly opposite mine and was both more officially dressed than the others and appeared to be directing the flow off employees so I casually inquired if she was perchance our captain or in some other way in a coordination capacity. This particular question was apparently quite flattering and I found myself very quickly ingratiated with the crew. Nearly an hour into the flight I began noticing what to me was odd behavior in the fancier areas of the plane, it is a touch unusual for one seated in first class to wander aftward to the peasant toilets when they have a far nicer commode in a pilot adjacent location. Shortly after I noticed this Inez brought me a bottle of water without warning as well as some of the accoutrements given to those in first class, this again was raising some alarms in my head that this flight was in fact becoming somewhat unusual.
It was at that point that our pilot came on the PA with a mixture of annoyance and unease peaking through a well-practiced tone to inform us that we would be returning to San Francisco and ideally moving quickly across the tarmac to an identical plane for a second attempt at our voyage. Now this particular jet was a Boeing 777 and not prone to failures as far as its tenure in service could detect so this was slightly unnerving. Having received the all clear from the tower to advise the passengers of the issue the pilot came back on the PA and alerted us to the fact that a valve leading to our water tank had been left open prior to takeoff and when the external pressure dropped a series of safety devices began a domino effect that left the crew unable to access what little water we had remaining, so there would be no food service etc. At this point I was finishing eating my food which had been mysteriously prepared before this shortage became apparent, most likely using bottled water. What the pilot neglected to mention, most likely to avoid panic, is that the fire suppression systems onboard use that same supply of water and had anything further occurred there would be literally no way to solve the problem, hence our rather abrupt return to port and switching planes. Further to things the pilot did not fully explain was that our plane was expected to burn ten hours of fuel before attempting to land and was therefore absurdly overweight and completely unable to land safely without dumping vast quantities of fuel. The pilot mentioned that the fuel emitted from the wingtips was nothing to worry about and left it at that. At the mention of thousands of pounds of jet fuel about to be sprayed out over the Pacific I left my seat and wandered down to the wing and began filming the spectacle Seen here
The plane now devoid of both petrol and water landed at the airport and the crew began hurrying the passengers to the next plane as we had mere minutes to switch planes lest our pilot and co-pilot overrun their legally allowed maximum shift time and force a 24 hour delay, needless to say the plane was loaded and food/luggage transferred in record time and we were again aloft, a twelve-hour flight having now been extended to sixteen in addition to the two and a half hours spent reaching San Francisco this morning.