We were on the freeway, heading into Vancouver, planning on getting to the camera repair shop by 7pm to pick up my camera and three lenses.
It was going to be close, but barring any street closures or major accidents, we were on schedule.
And then we weren't.On schedule. Because there was a street closure. Due to a major accident.
There was a motorcycle smushed on our off-ramp. And ten thousand cars were being re-routed to Hastings Street - the busiest street in North American due to all its traffic lights. (Not true. But it is busier than 1st or Grandview.)
I knew there was no way we were going to make it on time. NO way.
And my flight was leaving the next morning for Whitehorse.
Would I be going on a vacation without a camera in my hand?
I waited til Heather finished praying for the motorcycle driver, then asked her to dial Clint's number on her phone. She put it on speaker and held it on her side of the truck.
She: He won't answer. He doesn't know my number.
Me: He will.
Him: Clinton speaking.
Me: Hi Clint. Are you at your office?
Me: Can you do me a huge favor? We're on our way to Vancouver to pick up my camera equipment but there's been an accident on the freeway and we're going to have to take a detour...and we're not going to make it by 7. Can you pick it up for me?
Me: And uh, can you pay for it? It'll be about $650. And they don't take Visa.
Me: I'll pay you back.
He disconnected and I kept driving.
When we got to his office he was waiting for us.
She: Wow, this is really nice.
He: Uh thanks.
Me: Can I borrow one of your tripods for this trip?
He: Yeah, OK. I'll show you how to use it.
He set it up, put my camera on it, and showed me how to make adjustments.
Me: Uh, if you were going to attempt to take pics of the Northern Lights, what settings would you use?
He: Put it on manual focus... like th..... how come it's not working? Wha? Uh? It's stuck. Something's wrong. They ... What's their number? Where's the invoice?
Me: They closed at 7. It's 7:30; I doubt anyone will be there.
He: You can't take it like this. It's not working.
I dial the number then pass the phone to him. Someone answers.
He explains what's wrong in a calm intelligent manner not at all sounding hysterical. They tell him to come back, they'll fix it. He explains that it must be fixed while we wait, as it is needed for a photo shoot in the morning. They agree.
So the three of us drive over.
Me, maybe a little bit proud of myself: I ordered a phone upgrade today. It was free with a 2 year extension of contract. I did it online, because I didn't have time to get to the Telus store.
Him: The iPhone 5s?
Me: Well,I thought that's what I was getting. But when I got my confirmation, turns out what I assumed was an s was really a c.
Him: SO YOU'VE ORDERED A 5c? WHAT THE HECK? That's not an upgrade. It's the same camera as your current phone. You've got to get out of that contract. Seriously mom. What were you thinking?
Me: Uh, OK.
We get to the place, hang around while the camera is fixed, talk about the shudder release cable that I need but they don't have, discuss again my foolish purchase that afternoon, get back to his office, pack up the tripod, then head over to the False Creek seawall. (Well, Heather and I head over. He stays at his office.)
We stop in at the London Drugs in Olympic Village at 8 pm to see if they have a photography department.
Me: Hi. This is my camera (I put it on the counter) and I need a shudder release cable for it. Do you have any?
Me, babbling: I'm going to the Yukon and hope to take pictures of the Northern Lights ...
He: You see, the photography guy left at 7:30. I can't help you.
Me: So you're just here to ring through purchases?
She: Do you know if they'd have the cable at your Granville Street store?
She: Do you think you could phone them to find out?
He: I honestly don't know.
She: You don't know if you can phone them?
She: Could you phone them right now to see if they have it?
He, looking super annoyed walks over to the phone. Makes a call, starts talking to someone, then loses interest in the entire project and hands the phone to me.
Me: Hi. I'm looking for a shudder release cable for a Canon EOS rebel. Do you have any in stock?
He: Just a minute, I'll check for you.
He, a short time later: Yes, we have them in stock.
Me: How much are they?
Me: Is this a standard item? Do you think they'd have them in stock at this store?
He: Yes, they should.
Me: Can you tell me where you have them in your store? They'd probably be shelved in the same place here.
He: You're right. All our stores are set up pretty much the same. They're behind the counter ....
She and I walk back over to the photography counter.
He, wondering why we were still in his face: Did they have it at the other store?
Me: Yes. And you have it at this store too.
He, looking surprised: We do? But are you going to go to Granville?
Me: No, we're going to buy it here.
She: It's right over there. See that box on the second shelf? The one that says 'shudder release cable'. That's what we want.
He rang it through for us and seriously. I wanted so badly to have a moment with him. He could use some career counselling. He was The Most apathetic sales clerk I'd ever met. What does his future at London Drugs look like? How will he ever get past stocking shelves in the candy aisle if he doesn't know how to help a customer?
We left the store and walked because it was a mild, perfect Vancouver evening.
And then we planned future adventures over dinner at:
I got home at 11pm and emailed, called, tweeted and instant messaged Telus, asking them to let me get out of the contract I'd just agreed to that afternoon.
Then I started packing.
Haha. Like I have clothes suitable for the Great White North.
By 3 am I was ready for bed.
And at 8:30 Clint was in the driveway ready to drive me to the airport.
On the way, Telus called me. They were happy to cancel my contract. All was well.
It was with a glad heart that I presented my boarding pass to the gal behind the Air North counter.
Her: Have a great flight and a good vacation!
And with that? All the tension slipped off my shoulders.
My seat on the plane (12D) was perfect. The middle seat was empty, and a very quiet guy sat next to the window.
My lunch (YES, THEY SERVED A FREE LUNCH) was served with a smile. And after they'd collected our garbage they came by with their cart again. It had a huge slab chocolate cake on it. She was cutting pieces and serving them on plates.
And it was delicious, moist, chocolately, and perfect.
We arrived on time. My luggage was on the carousal with in minutes. And I will definitely fly with them again.
(Uh, London Drugs? You could learn a thing or two about customer service from Air North.)
Bring on the North.
I be ready.
Three Things I'm Thankful For:
1. My boy. So thankful for his help, advice, patience and wisdom.
2. Air North. What a great little airline.
3. Weather forecast. No anticipated rain.