HWSRN has certainly learned the Airport Security Drill. Flying out of Lunchbucket International bound for Cowtown Alberta where the cows bathe in oil and the execs stampede from one sludgepot to another. The band was headed for Edmountain, of course, but they had a two-hour layover in Cowtown.
Security in Lunchbucket is thorough and not too quick. They swabbed one of HWSRN's flight cases...the one that has the electronic accordion generator in it. Too many wires. Too many obvious circuit boards. That's OK. The world is an increasingly paranoid place. Life is constrained now. You do have a choice. You can stay at home. Save the ozone.
Nevertheless, the band passed through the electronic arches in relative comfort, minus Voin's needle nose pliers.
Not only is paranoia the order of the day. The nation has become positively unfriendly to those poor slobs who still smoke the demon tobacco. Even the flight attendants make fun at their expense. (Ladies and gentlemen, you will find our smoking section off on the right wing. The in-flight movie is Gone With the Wind...ha ha!) HWSRN is unrepentant...a dirty filthy smelly barbarian of a smoker. He must have his smoke.
The Cowtown airport is long. Long and narrow under conditions of addictive compulsion. Long, narrow and nearly endless. There are no exits but the one. That one at the other end of the airport. About half-way, HWSRN waylaid a couple of WestJet employees and was told that if one must smoke, the only place was at the far end, out past the TimHo's, out past the security gates, out past the Departures entrance, across the road, next to the parking garage. Another postal code away, as they said so cheerfully. And there, next to the driveway and the traffic calming and the stacked floors of parked cars, you may fire up your foul weed and inhale to your heart's detriment the delightful mixture of tobacco and exhaust fumes.
Fine. HWSRN puts up with all this, all these little inconveniences and demeaning gestures, cuz he smokes, he flies, and this is a weird planet and he certainly lives on it most of the time.
But you noticed that I said that the smoking ghetto is outside, right? Past the security gates. Which means that one must pass thru security again to get back on de plane. A two-hour layover is long enough to go for two smokes. So HWSRN passed thru security at Cowtown International Aeroport two times. He knows how to do it now. The first time they took away his water bottle cuz he forgot it was even in his bag. He'd taken it off the plane to drink it. They would be travelling to Edmountain on a different plane. So he gave up his water. Other than that there was no problem.
An hour later he repeated the same process. This time no water. But he had his bag pulled aside by the same security woman who had taken his water earlier. There was some suspicious electronic device in this nondescript Labatt's Blue duffel bag. HWSRN's iPod. Which had been there in exactly the same place an hour earlier. Which simply goes to show. Airport security is an ass.
I asked HWSRN why he didn't just leave his bag with someone in the band, take off his pants and shirt and go out like that. Nothin' but a lighter and a pack of smokes. He was aghast. He is under the impression that it's a federal offence to leave your carry-on luggage with anyone but the person who so lovingly packed it. And he may be right. Aeroport security is as likely to blow up any unobtrusive package as look at you.
There you have it. Terrorists are everywhere. Cowtown especially. Oil. Money. Get it? HWSRN is convinced he encountered one in the airport men's room. He was bearded and his flow was rather erratic.
On to Edmountain and the Westin Hotel. Everything there is plush. And for sale. The bathrobe hanging on the inside of the bathroom door is plush. Pure white. Don't touch it. It could cost you $150. There is a hydra-headed shower apparatus. You may avoid one, but the other will get you for sure. If you want bathroom fixtures just like the ones in the hotel, you can order them from the catalogue. The bed is plush. You could die in that bed and never know it. They could just take that mattress, stuff it into a box and you could lie in plush eternity, blushing at the luxury. The pillows are plush. The duvet is plush. But heavy. HWSRN calls it the X-ray blanket. You spread it over yourself and you are suddenly immobile. The hospital corners are plush. Also immovable. Voin says you could wake up with a sprained ankle. The coffee is Starbuck's and actually good. The breakfast buffet is $20. Which is a deal cuz if you order à la carte, the orange juice alone is five bucks. (But it's fabulous OJ.) You need a key to make the elevator go to the guest floors. (This is the hotel equivalent of aeroport security.) The doorman opens the door even if you're wearing track pants. If you want to smoke, you must go 60 metres away from the door. To another postal code.
Oh, and there was a gig. At the Shaw Conference Centre. The Edmountaineers love this party. It sells out every year. They come to drink beer, eat German style, polka and waltz, chicken dance and hokey pokey for the first part of the night, then mosh up to the front of the stage for whatever classic rock band has been hired that year.
Which leads me to the perennial problem with that gig. The sound company and their employees. BFB has played that gig for somewhere around 15 years. Each year with a different rock band. Some of those bands are coming around for their second time. But BFB returns every year. Somehow the sound techs have not figured out that BFB is the staple and the other guys are just passing through. Therefore, they sometimes treat BFB disrespectfully. As if the band is there for them, and not the other way around. Part of the problem comes from the fact that BFB always starts the night off, so they seem like the warmup band. Which they are not. Since they are a complete show in themselves. And the boss knows it.
I won't name this sound company, but it starts with an A, ends with an E, and HWSRN says they should have a big X through the middle of them. In fact, if it was up to him, they'd be AXEd before sundown. Some years are better than others, but in fact, they have never once gotten everything right. And this year, the techs were arrogant and rude, and decided that eating their lunch was more important than making sure Sonja had a working mic to yodel into. Disgraceful.
From all this, you might conclude that the travellin' part and the gig part are more trouble than they're worth. But you'd be wrong. If you ask HWSRN he'll tell you they had a good time. Way more fun than an enema.