Friday, November 27, 2009

Break Time

The forecast snowstorm never arrived, so the highways stayed clear and our relief shift did arrive. We all sat in one of our palatial hotel rooms and relayed notes about everything that needs continuity. Oil consumption, heater operation, where we're parked, what we think we've lost in the airplane and hope they will find (my memory stick!), the pet peeves of the current client, and the particular radio frequencies we might need.

We have everything packed already, so early the next morning we drove to the nearest international airport to head home for a break. My co-worker has an early flight, so he hops out with his stuff and then I take the car to look around town before my flight. I pull into a tourist info place to get a map of town so I don't get lost, and while I'm there I ask the bored teenager to suggest something to do near here. There does not appear to be a local giant thing to photograph. She picks up a yellow highlighter and marks a few spots on the map where she says there are cafes. That's not a bad idea, but I'd like to see more than the inside of a cafe, so I ask her if there is a good place to go for a walk nearby, seeing as it's such a fine day. She stares at me for a second or two and says "not really." I indicate a couple of green spots on the map, presumably parks and ask about them. She is noncommittal. Having wrung the encounter of all available information, I thank her and get back into the car.

I soon pass a bank with an electronic temperature/time display. It's two degrees outside. Perhaps to most people this isn't beautiful weather for a walk. But it is lovely. Still air, blue sky, birds tweeting.

The first highlighted spot consists of a row of retail stores that don't open for another couple of hours, and a car wash. It occurs to me that if you were a bored teenager who hated her job and everyone who asked you for information, you could tease a tiny thread of entertainment out of your job by sending them to random highlighted spots on the map. It's not like they're going to bother to come back and complain. I myself get more enjoyment out of the speculation that she has done this deliberately than I would have from accurate directions, so I forgive her and park a couple of blocks past the car wash. The map shows a river with green space a few blocks from here so I head towards it. Is there a city with a river running through it that doesn't have walking trails along the banks? Not this one. It's a pretty nice multi-use area with wide paved and narrower unpaved paths. Lots of other people agree with me that it's a nice day for a walk.

There's also a museum on the map, not far away, so I drive over there and see an exhibit on diamonds. Part of the exhibit was just a promotion extolling the virtues of diamond jewellery, but there was a more interesting section on exploration. It turns out that the geologist leading the team that discovered the Diavik mine in the NWT was a woman named Eira Thomas.

And then I get on an airplane and go home.


Cirrocumulus said...

"you could tease a tiny thread of entertainment out of your job by sending them to random highlighted spots on the map" - that idea has so much potential you'd soon start enjoying your job!
Searching your town for its most unattractive nooks and corners, then making up stories about why they might be interesting. An imaginary serial killer, the ghosts of killer and victims, then more original stuff. Some visitors would like to hear there's an unusual brothel in one of the flats above the shops. Others, that the explosion scattered gold nuggets all over the riverside - the big ones have all gone but people still find little bits - big enough to mount on a ring like this.
Did you see any pink flamingoes wading? They're not wild, the town introduced them to control giant water snails that were climbing out of the river and attacking domestic pets. The flamingoes were no good for that, they had to poison the snails but a few flamingoes just stayed on.
And there's an entrance to hell at the back of this disused factory, people from Vancouver came to investigate it and all.

Geekzilla said...

I love your description/interaction with the bored teenager. Good stuff!