Disclaimer: Certain content in this post may be a bit dark for some tastes. I’m told my sense of humour can sometimes be a bit “off-side.” You’ve been fairly warned…so just lighten up.
This story, like all love stories (right?), begins with the object of my affection outright dissing and dismissing me. I begged and pleaded, took some beatings, but kept coming back for more because I knew things would change. And they did! The moral of the story, kids, is to never give up on a love that violently rejects you. I heard that in a PSA once.
So who is this jerk? Vancouver. But you don’t know it like I do! It’s going through a tough time at work right now! Things will change! I know it loves me too!
I am fortunate that my job allows me to travel to many places in Canada. This year, I was sent on a two-week east coast to west coast extravaganza. I spent a couple of days on the east coast, thought it was pretty, then headed to the west coast and realized it kicks the east coasts’ ass. Ocean AND mountains??!!
I’m also fortunate that when I travel, typically I’m finished working in the early afternoon and have the rest of the day to be a tourist. I love being a tourist. Travelling alone is the shit. You get really good at balancing your camera on inanimate objects.
Vancouver was love at first sight (well, second sight. The first time I went to Vancouver I was in high school and cared more about what homemade mix I was listening to on my Discman, “Lauren’s Slammin’ Jammin’ Roof Raisin’ Crazy Cruisin’ Phat Tracks” or “Lauren’s Super Smooth Easy Listening Jams for Chillin'”–actual cds I made and still have–than appreciating the beauty that surrounded me).
I spent a whole week in Vancouver (that’s what she said…he said…), including a weekend, and I used all my free time doing every touristy thing possible. The relentless rain didn’t stop me from soaking up every minute that I could be a stage five clinger to my main squeeze. I am in love with Vancouver and 4000 kilometres can’t come between us. We are destined to be reunited someday.
But our love wasn’t always this easy. My first 12 hours in Vancouver should have left me traumatized, seeking support groups, and forever distrusting of all major metropolitans.
It began with a very delayed flight from Halifax to Toronto, so I missed my original connecting flight to Vancouver and had to reschedule for a later flight. This messed up my rental car reservation with a company that wouldn’t be open late enough for my new arrival time, so I had to re-book with another company. All of this rescheduling via my cell phone at the airport actually wasn’t so bad. Most people would probably be annoyed or upset, but I’ve lived my cosmic joke of a life long enough to know that anything I plan for won’t go as planned. So I shrugged off all these changes with the equivalent concern I’d give to dripping Popsicle on my shirt: Meh! And keep going. Also, I just kept thinking that since I get to turn my clock back 4 hours when I arrive in Vancouver, it will be as if this dreadful day of travel never even happened. That’s how time change works, right?
So I finally landed in Vancouver at midnight, four hours later than scheduled. That doesn’t sound so bad, but since I arrived at the first airport ridiculously early because I’m a freak, it was a very long day. It was a Wednesday, so thankfully I could watch the new episode of Survivor on the plane or else I would have been REALLY pissed.
Since I was coming from the east coast, midnight really felt like 4:00am to me. I was ready for this bullshit day of travel to be over. I collected my baggage and picked up my rental car. An airport at midnight is pretty desolate. I didn’t see anyone else driving around. When I surfaced from the parking garage, I immediately pulled over so I could set up the GPS, adjust the mirrors, figure out the windshield wipers (because, of course, it was pouring rain) and familiarize myself with the vehicle, like the responsible driver and citizen of humanity that I am.
Two minutes into my routine, I hear sirens and see flashing lights in my rear-view mirror. A cop was pulling me over. But I was already pulled over.
I’m in Vancouver for about half an hour and the po-po are already up in my grill? Aw man!
Here is how the conversation pretty much went, along with how it was going in my head (in italics).
Officer: What seems to be the trouble? It’s dead out here and I was bored so I thought I’d add some stress to your late night.
Me: No trouble at all. I just pulled over for a second to wait for my GPS to kick in. Imagine that–pulling out of the rental car garage, where people pick up cars they’ve never driven before, and then pulling over to the side of the road. I bet that NEVER happens.
Officer: License and registration please. I’m a dick.
Me: With pleasure! It is almost 5:00am to me, I’ve been in airport after airport all day soaking up airport-ness in my pores, I stink, I’m tired, and you are what’s standing between me and a bed. Hey, it’s pretty quiet out here. There’s a lot I could get away with right now. Will he be missed? What’s the trunk space like in this car? I guess it’s big enough for my suitcase, so I’d have to somehow move that out of the way first …
(The officer returns from his cruiser with my license. That’s right, he felt the need to run a check on me. Can’t imagine why.)
Officer: Have a good night. I wonder if there’s a sweet old lady around I can bust for accidentally dropping a candy wrapper.
Me: Thanks! You too! Die, jerk.
My GPS had kicked in and I was finally on my way to the hotel. I love my GPS dearly. I refuse to pay for the map upgrade, so I’ve been making do with four-year old software. It’s fine! It may take me on some interesting routes, but it always gets me where I need to be. Hey, isn’t that just a darling analogy for life itself?…Anyway, my GPS took me through downtown to get to my hotel, which I later realized wasn’t the best route.
My hotel was on Hastings Street, which is a very long street and while most of it is lovely, there is a stretch of a few blocks that is known as the poorest postal code in Vancouver, and is the epicentre for drug addiction and crime. Probably the scariest place in Canada. I learned this when I Yahoo!ed it later (I don’t use Google. Personal preference, let it go). Since my GPS is bad-ass, it bravely led me through this area to get to my hotel.
You know when you drive into a bad part of town and you lock your car doors and wonder if you’re being racist? I did that. But it was definitely warranted. I was literally gasping and saying out loud, “No…No way…Nooooooo waayyyyyy…” as I drove. Crack whores were in clusters on the corners. The drunk and stoned and high were stumbling all over the place. Run-down hotels and meth clinics lined the street. It might have been the late hour and that I was still shaken from my airport Five-O encounter, but I could have sworn that as I drove by, one of the street thugs pointed directly at me, drew his thumb across his neck, and then threw back a sinister laugh.
I flew through the rough patch and got to my hotel. It was a Holiday Inn Express, my hotel of choice when I’m on the road since they are newer, moderately priced, and have free breakfast*. Since it seemed located uncomfortably close to hell’s asshole, I made the decision to just spend the night since I was exhausted, and move to another hotel in the morning.
*This is an unpaid endorsement. theVERYsinglegirl.com is in no way affiliated with the Holiday Inn chain of hotels. Or that’s what they keep reminding me when I feel entitled to extra tiny bottles of hand lotion.
The next morning I went straight to the front desk and cancelled my week-long reservation. I explained that I wasn’t comfortable staying in this area while travelling alone. The clerk looked at me like I had two heads, but kindly sent me on my way. When I pulled out of the parking garage I realized that in the light of day, the area actually wasn’t sketchy at all! It was MUCH further from the scary part of town than I thought and was actually in a very convenient central location. In fact, I would probably stay there again if I return. Huh!
When I got to my new hotel, I explained to the clerk why I had moved from the other location. He also looked at me like I had two heads. Alright townies, I get it. Back off the clueless tourist, OK??? He starting processing my reservation and then said the words that strike fear and anguish in the hearts of spenders everywhere:
“Miss, do you have another credit card?”
My work credit card was declined.
No, I didn’t have another credit card, because I keep my personal credit card at a low limit that wouldn’t cover a full week’s stay at a hotel in Vancouver even if there was room on it. Which there wasn’t. Because I’m a shopaholic.
We ended up being able to fit one night’s stay on the work credit card so I wasn’t thrown out on the street with my buddies back on Hastings. When I got up to my room, I immediately called the office to figure out how my card could possibly not have room on it when I knew it should have more than enough (this is also when I learned that my boss had recommended the Holiday Inn on Howe, not Hastings. Go figure).
“Um, Lauren. You didn’t happen to spend $4,000 on postage stamps, did you?”
No. No, I did not.
I was clearly a victim of credit card fraud. Awesome. And postage stamps? Who was this thief, Luka Magnotta???
But really, if I’m going to be frauded by anyone, it’s going to be someone so exciting and daring that they’d spend their newly acquired wealth on…stamps. It was all straightened out and I was wired the funds for the rest of my trip. It was smooth sailing from that point on.
In less than 24 hours, I had endured delayed flights, getting hassled by the fuzz, a midnight ride down 8 Mile, and some good old-fashioned identity theft.
Vancouver did apologize for its belligerent welcoming. The week turned out to be one of the best trips of my life. Vancouver, my love for you is unconditional. So as long as you eventually make it up to me, abuse me as you please. I love the way you lie.*
*Another disclaimer: Theverysinglegirl.com in no way condones domestic violence. It does condone Eminem. Where you been, Slim?