That Time I Went To Vancouver And All The Things Happened

Just over a week ago I arrived at Pearson International Airport to board my 27th flight of the year. And while it started off as a typical trip to Vancouver (in fact, my 4th in the last year), it has been full of a number of surprises.

The adventure began after I printed my boarding pass. As is the case whenever I get my boarding pass, I took a moment to notice my boarding time and my zone number1. The boarding time (if I remember correctly) was 11:15 am. However, right there in the top right corner of my pass in bold letters was “Zone 5” – the last of all the zones to be called. I knew 11:15 was not when I would be boarding. Because of this, I opted to relax with a coffee before I sauntered casually to the gate.

On my way to the gate, I realized that there was an announcement related to my flight. Unfortunately, it was drowned-out by the cacophony of about 50 high school students who were milling about in front of my assigned gate and carrying on as teens are wont to do. I tried to quell the immediate horror that came with the realization that the next 5 hours in the air might be full of an incredible amount of teen drama but was spared the woe-is-me attitude when I thought I overheard them call Passenger Gillis to the desk. Of course, they might have also said Passenger Ellis, Willis, or Phyllis, or practically anything else because the announcement was fully reminiscent of Charlie Brown’s teacher. Regardless, I opted to make my way to the desk to see what was up.

“Hi, I’m Dan Gillis. I think you called me.”

“Oh yes, Mr. Gillis. Here’s your boarding pass.”

I grabbed the paper she handed me, and as I was about to say “but I already have my pass” she moved on to the next customer. A little dumbfounded and confused, I stepped aside to inspect my ticket only to realize that I was now zone 1. Feeling victorious despite having done nothing to warrant even the slightest victory in this situation, I immediately jumped to the front of the line to have my ID checked and to make my way to the plane.

As I walked the bridge to the plane I then noticed my seat number: 8A. I stopped and inspected my ticket more closely. 8A, window seat, business class. When I read the last two words, I had to read them again to be sure I wasn’t misinterpreting what I was seeing. Business. Class. Hells ya! After I did a little dance of joy I boarded the plane. I quickly scanned the crowd and saw a bunch of heads in the pods that the business class passengers are privy to. I was stoked because I’d never experienced the pods before. As I made my way to my seat, I noticed the row in front of me included a man around my age with his wife and two kids. They seemed like a pretty happy family, but to be honest, I gave them very little notice save for a little later in the flight when the oldest girl was walking around the cabin, full of smiles and a head of hair that reminded me of Goldilocks. And as I watched several movies, every now and then I would see out of the corner of my eye the father or mother getting up with the kids, and basically doing what any parent might do to keep their kids happy and entertained on a long flight. But I never really noticed them otherwise.

About 30 minutes from our destination (and full of wine – thank you AirCanada Business Class) – the captain made the requisite announcements to inform us of our impending descent, the local time and temperature, and to thank us for choosing Air Canada. It was at this time that I began to notice the comings and goings in the cabin. The father who was seated in front of me stood up and stretched, then picked up his older girl to head off to – I assume – the washrooms. From the corner of my eye, I could tell he was tall, well dressed, and fit. As he walked by, I thought – that is one good looking man, he really looks like Ryan Reynolds. As that thought sunk in, I thought maybe that is Ryan Reynolds, but before I could verify he had disappeared with his daughter. I looked over to where the rest of his family was. As if on cue, the wife stood up. Her hair was slightly disheveled – she’d obviously been napping – but immediately I recognized that she was Blake Lively. And then he returned, and indeed it was Ryan Reynolds.

The Livelys2 were sitting in front of me the entire flight and I’d only just noticed. While I don’t normally get excited by celebrity, I was actually pretty stoked. Regardless, and despite my initial thought of asking for a photo, I opted not to pester them. From what I could tell, they had just had an uneventful family-focused flight, and I really didn’t think my intrusion would add to it. Instead, I sat there a little giddy that I was so close to Deadpool.

And that, dear readers, was day one of my adventures. On day two, Rick and I said hello to David Duchovny as he happened to enter the same restaurant we were eating in. There was a visit to the Granville Island Market, a walk along the Pacific Spirit Trail, beers by the beach, more than several slices of pie, a scotch tasting, incredible coffee, and the beginning of a new research grant with some awesome people doing amazing things in Vancouver and around the world. Additionally, Wil Wheaton liked one of my tweets – which I may or may not be too excited about. And this was all in addition to working less than I normally do in a given week. It’s almost as if this was meant to be a vacation!

Anyway, I fly home tomorrow for another quick visit to Guelph. The next week is going to be packed with back to school chaos, but this trip is not the last for the summer. I have one more wee trip left. But more on that later.


1 For those not in the know, the zone numbers are a way to corral passengers onto the plane in a seemingly more organized and efficient manner. I’m not exactly sure how the zones were determined, but I feel that some sort of computer simulation might better determine how to allocate the zones to the various passengers to improve the efficiency and flow of the process. It seems to me that boarding the window seats near the back of the plane first (working towards the front), then the middle seats and aisle seats in a similar manner might be more efficient than what the current system appears to be (which is slightly more organized than chaos). Of course, this assumes people are logical and proceed as one might expect a well-oiled machine. Hmmm, perhaps it’s fine as it is.

2 For the record, The Livelys are probably the most attractive couple I have ever seen. I mean, I know on television they are attractive, but this was after flying for 5 hours and in a situation where they weren’t being celebrities, and they were still crazy hot. Crazy. Hot.

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