Moving to Vancouver

We arrived late last night, no thanks to our most punctual airline. We made the mistake of taking a charter flight. What made it worse that the charter airline sub-contracted another charter airline to fly us to Vancouver. Air Transat isn’t exactly known for comfort. Royal Airlines ain’t exactly known … period.

This was my first little apprehension. The plane was a Boeing 727-200. The chairs were so tightly packed that my knees were touching the seat in front of me. There was next to no room in the overhead compartments. It took nearly 45 minutes to get everyone on the plane. It was so tightly packed that a woman a couple of rows behind us had a panic attack and forced her way off the plane. I couldn’t blame her. As a direct result of her bailing out of the plane, the flight was delayed a further hour as they attempted to find her bag buried in the cargo hold. After over an hour and a half of waiting, we finally took to the air.

Mental note to self: never fly anything except Canadian and Air Canada in the future. Canada 3000 as a last resort.

On the plus side, we got free “sparkling wine” (a fancy way of saying that the wine they used wasn’t fit for peeling paint off walls), a reasonably decent meal (reconstituted chicked with unidentifiable green goop in the middle), and a pre-mixed salad that was not entirely unlike bad coleslaw. Real wine (someone’s joke of fermented grape juice) was available at that point. Liqueurs (brandy, schnapps, and some other harsh chemical) were served not longer after dinner. The guy sitting in the window seat kept talking to Allison, despite her heroic attempts to talk with me every chance she got … and took every chance to feel her up.

The plane came to a rather rough bounce (kinda like when you skip stones across a pond) when we arrived. After walking most of the way across the Lower Mainland, we found our baggage carousel, and waited another 45 minutes for our lost luggage to be found. (For a while, we were wondering if the schmucks who took the luggage off in Toronto had forgotten to put it back on.)

We didn’t get to Allison’s apartment until nearly 1:30am (Vancouver Time), where we promptly went to bed.

This morning was rough. Ugly rough. The alarm went off at 7:30. We couldn’t pry ourselves out of bed until just after 8:00. I had a long list of things that I needed to do, and one of those things was an interview with Prologic Corporation (Allison’s company). It was time to play dress-up.

We left the apartment just after 8:30. Allison dropped me off at a bus stop, so I could take a bus downtown. The ambient temperature was about 5-7 degrees, but the ambient humidity of about six trillion percent made it feel like two below zero.

For the record: Vancouverites aren’t wimps. They may not be able to handle an Ontario winter, but I don’t think many Ontarioites can handle the kind of penetrating weather they have here.

Upon arriving downtown, I made a valiant effort to contact the human resources manager at Prologic, to arrange the time for the interview (the time hadn’t been established by that point). The time was set for 2pm, so I had time to kill.

I wandered down Davie St. trying to find the Vancouver Public Library. I needed to find a phone book (every single phone booth in Vancouver has had the phone book removed), so I could call the companies I had sent resumes to. Along the way, I found a McDonalds, and immediately called for breakfast.

I began to notice the cold. I was wearing a dress-shirt, my sports jacket, and my slacks. I was cold. I decided that an overcoat wouldn’t be such a bad idea after all. Upon finding the Eaton’s store while trying to find the Library, I decided that a coat of some kind would be a good idea.

That little task was repeated through most of the day. I don’t know what it is with people, particularly men’s fashions, but the cheapest raincoat I could find was $220. Hello?? Who buys a RAINCOAT for $220?? The most expensive one I found was over $1,000!! Who makes this stuff up?!

Giving up on the raincoat issue for now (I had an umbrella for protection, and I wasn’t freezing to death), I found my way to the library. I checked up a couple of numbers, and decided that I should give myself a new challenge — find my way to Richmond, which is where Prologic has its offices.

After polling a few bus drivers, I found the appropriate bus, and headed towards my interview. Allison had told me to get off the bus at Garden City and Cambie, where she would pick me up and bring me to Prologic. (The bus that ran from that corner to Prologic wasn’t exactly frequent.) I arrived at the corner about 45 minutes early, so I opted for lunch before calling Allison. Spying a 7-11 just down the road, I headed down to see what I could find.

I walked into a small Italian pizzeria (which I would find out later was much more expensive than others in the area — I’m new to all this), and had a quick bite. Allison met me at the corner of Cambie and Garden City about a quarter to 2:00. She gave me a couple of quick pointers, and then sent me in to meet with destiny.

While I waited for my first interviewer to appear, I quickly acquainted myself with some of Prologic’s literature on the desk … and the washroom. (Walking around in the penetrating chill had caused my bladder to swell somewhat.)

When my first interview arrived, she took me to her office and started with the typical list of interview questions … except for the first: Why did you move to Vancouver?

Then it was off to another building in the complex (Prologic has about 160 employees, and is growing at an unbelievable rate), usually referred to as “Second City”. (The third building is known as “Third Rock”.)

There I was interviewed by the training manager, who wanted to know what kind of editing experience I had. Prologic needs an editor to work on some standards documents, and Allison thought I had the necessary anal retentiveness to make it work. (No comments from the peanut gallery!)

I met with Allison after the interview, where she suggested I go to Oak Ridge Centre and wander around for a couple of hours before going back to her place. I would meet her at the entrance to Safeway so she could do some shopping. By the time she arrived, my feet were ready to abdicate from the rest of my body, and my shoulders had dropped two inches from carrying my laptop around all day.

When we arrived back at her apartment, I made a hasty change, so we could go out to dinner. While we were getting ready the phone rang. It was Prologic calling to tell me they were willing to take me on. (It’s only a one-month contract, but considering I haven’t been here for 24 hours yet, I think it’s a good sign.) Following the call, we headed out for dinner.

The restaurant of choice was “Naam”, a vegetarian (but thankfully, not vegan) restaurant in Kitsilano. Really good food, but it’s a little disconcerting to read a menu that has no meat on it whatsoever.

And so my first day concludes on a decidedly upward note. There may be more long entries to following, depending on whether or not I want to write them.