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The great race (conclusion)

Posted by Fred Frailey
on Saturday, February 11, 2017

Several of you have emailed and messaged me to ask how things went. Did I make it to my son's engagement party Saturday night? To them I said yes, everything worked out. But while I did not tell a lie, I did not tell the whole truth--a lie of omission, I guess it's called. This is the whole truth.

To recap: VIA Rail's Canadian was definitely not going to reach Toronto today less than 5 hours late, the deadline for making a 4:30 p.m. flight from Pearson International to Washington, D.C. Before the trip, as a sort of insurance policy, I also bought an airline ticket from Sudbury, Ont., to Toronto. If the Canadian, due to two stations near the airport shortly after midnight, were no more than eight hours late, I could easily make a 9:55 flight to Toronto.

As it turned out, train 2 was eight hours late out of Hornepayne, Ont., but made up an hour overnight. It rolled to a stop at Capreol, Ont., seven hours late. The agent there said I'd have better luck getting a taxi to the airport from nearby Sudbury Junction, and called one to meet me there. I got back on the train.

I was in Toronto by 11 yesterday morning. By noon I had checked in, gone through security and U.S. immigration and relaxed. Four hours later, the Air Canada agent is ready to board the plane to Washington. Please have out your boarding pass and passport. I look for my passport and it's not there. Gone. Vanished. Vamoose. Though I had already cleared immigration, the agent won't board me. I briefly feel homeless, but mostly I feel I had let down my family.

Where was the passport? I went to Air Canada's customer service desk and explained what happened. A woman took me by the arm and we walked upstairs to U.S. Immigration. Stay here, she said, and disappeared behind a door. Thirty seconds later she emerged and beckoned me to follow her. An immigration agent handed me my passport, which I apparently dropped or left behind at the security checkpoint. The only thing he said was, "Mr. Frailey, is there any country you haven't visited?"

Back at the customer service counter, Air Canada put me on the next plane to Washington. I got to the party two and a half hours late and embarrassed, but I was there. I think those 15 minutes of panic extracted a year from my life. There's no moral to this story. Except perhaps that sh-t happens, and we have to keep our heads and roll with it. I thought I had prepared for every contingency I could, but a moment's inattention renders all the preparation in the world useless.--Fred W. Frailey

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