Tall, Dark, and Mysterious



File under: Home And Native Land, What I Did On My Summer Vacation. Posted by Moebius Stripper at 1:23 pm.

Greetings from the happiest place on earth - Mathcamp - where I just realized that I’ll be spending ten consecutive days in the same place, the longest stretch of time I’ll be in one place in two months.

Meanwhile: all of my material possessions (except for the goddamned computer, goddammit) now reside in a storage locker in Vancouver.

Yes, I'm stealing bandwidth. This is what happens when you're at an internet cafe and can't transfer your files. When you live, by yourself, on an island (*) and don’t own a car, such a maneuver requires a lot of careful planning. Rent van; make itinerary of visits to lockers to check them out before committing to any; schedule trips to and from the mainland so as to allow sufficient time to scout out downtown lockers before rush hour and then to transfer materials to chosen locker; return before the last ferry of the day so as to avoid staying overnight in hotel. All of these are subject to last-minute inconveniences: car rental places may be understaffed and deliver your car late, traffic in downtown Vancouver may suck even harder than it did last time, a ferry may run aground and take out twenty-odd boats and result in the cancellation of all service to and from the Island for the rest of the business day. Granted, it’s nice when your ferry schedule makes national news and you don’t have to call 1-800-BC-FERRY to be put on hold for five minutes and be given outdated information anyway (**), but still. No one was hurt, but several hundred people were kept on board for seven (7) hours after the crash, and but for a series of coincidences, I’d have been one of them. Unhurt, but stuck on a ferry with a van full of heavy boxes, kept aboard until after the storage lockers closed for the day, on June 30, a day before Canada Day, when all the storage lockers in Vancouver are closed for the day, and don’t open until after I’ve boarded a train to the US.

Now, to point form, since things are crazy here and I’m being called away every few minutes:

  1. There’s a $400 surcharge for dropping off a van rented on the Island, on the mainland. Since travelling between the Island and the mainland with a car costs $45 each way and takes half a day, and since I can’t imagine employees at a car rental place make much more than $100 for that amount of time it takes to transfer the van back, and since the car rental place has locations in both cities I was travelling between anyway and has a million vans and what’s the difference anyway if one of them stays in Vancouver, this is a very sweet deal indeed for the folks at Budget Rent-a-Car. Consequently, my plan to take the Queen of Oak Bay at 8:30 am on June 30 to Horseshoe Bay had to be changed: to Vancouver on the 29th, back to the Island later that evening, and then back to Vancouver by foot the next day.
  2. Over at the storage locker: a massive truck pulled up along the driver’s side my rented Dodge Caravan, leaving me unable to open the driver’s door. I did what anyone who found herself in such unremarkable circumstances would do: I unlocked the passenger door, with a key, slid over, and stuck the key in the ignition. A siren sounded, and the engine didn’t take. Confused, I called the guy at the rental place. After a false diganosis (leading me to recruit a cabbie from the taxi company next door for a jump, which didn’t work, and being told by said cabbie tht he was being “very generous” by charging me only $10 for the five minutes he was at my service), the rental dude figured out that the car alarm sounds whenever you unlock the passenger-side door first. Because this is how cars are stolen these days: some cunning thief unlocks the passenger-side door, and starts the engine with a key. Except that when the thief’s target is a Dodge Caravan, he’s been thwarted. Thanks, Dodge!

    Related - other, related inane “security” measures I’ve run across lately:

    • I haven’t yet seen a dime of my employment insurance. I made the mistake of using my parents’ permanent address instead of my temporary one, which resulted in my file being flagged. The good folks at EI, while unfamiliar with that downwardly-mobile demographic of which I am a part - twentysomething transients with more education than job prospects, who almost-yearly move to wherever there is work or school - are apparently well-acquainted with that group of unemployed folk who try to defraud the system by filing a single application, under their actual names and social insurance numbers, but listing a different province than the one they’re filing the application from. I may be unemployed, but I’m not stupid, and if I were trying to bleed the system I’d like think I’d be a bit more imaginative, but whatever. So: my file is being transferred from Ontario to BC, which takes four (4) weeks. Feel free to speculate, in the comments, what in the act of transferring a file could possibly take four weeks. Is the EI office hiring? Because I can totally streamline this process for them.

    • If you don’t live in the US, but wish to travel in the US by Greyhound, you’re out of luck. They won’t take your credit card. You can get an American friend of yours to purchase the ticket on their credit card, but then you will have to pay a $15 “gift charge”. Sources of various degrees of reliability tell me that this crackdown on Canadian residents is a consequence of the PATRIOT Act. This seems completely stupid to me, but it’s less stupid than voluntarily turning down business from Canadians, so it’s probably true.
  3. After dropping off my belongings in the storage locker, I made my way to the ferry, forgetting that it’s faster to walk on one’s hands than it is to drive through downtown Vancouver during rush hour. Because of that, combined with the delay caused by the car-alarm fiasco, I missed the second-to-last ferry back to the Island. I didn’t get home until midnight. Exhausted, I slept in. Past seven. Missing the June 30, 8:30 am ferry to Horseshoe Bay.
  4. Which ran aground at 10:10, leaving passengers stranded on board for seven hours.

And that was how a series of little inconveniences allowed me to avoid one big inconvenience, or something. I’m busy and tired and haven’t proofread this, so maybe this post is about something entirely different.

(*) As in, no one shares my apartment, not that I own a private island or anything.

(**) In all fairness, it should be noted that ferry service to and from Vancouver Island is, in general, spectacularly efficient.