Thursday 20 March 2014

Working in Ottawa today --Keep Calm and Carry On

Good morning folks,

I will be working in Ottawa today.

When traveling through Charles De Gaulle airport about 3 years back I was somewhat taken aback by the lack of queuing up, through every door or turnstile or check point (of which were numerous) the traveling public just.. well sort of.. mashed up, like a semicircular arc of peoples all attempting to squeeze through simultaneously.

I had lamented this experience to my brother John in a short email on return to the Big Smoke and he explained that prior to WW II no one lined up anywhere and it was the British that invented the practice and now a source of true Brit pride, Keep Calm and Carry on!  He's a funny guy.  I countered with what about the bread lines during the Great Depression -- weren't those exactly that, lines - queues?  He said answered, no, the lines never existed, they were a staging by a young Walt Disney taking the pictures, much like the staging of Lemmings dropping to their death over cliffs some years later.

Huh.  Well how about that?

This morning I joined the lower level priority security line at Toronto's Pearson Airport.  When I joined the queue there were about 6 persons in front on me, and we collectively were by all indications waiting to flow through security door 1.  The standard proletariat line had no one actually in the line, but security door 4 had perhaps 10 persons waiting to pass through.  I decided to stick with the Priority queue since 6 well seasoned Elite and Super Elite travelers should in theory be able to pass through security an order of magnitude quicker than 10 of the great unwashed with their water bottles and spare change and scrap metal in each pocket.

But no.  As a new set of travelers entered the empty non priority queue, the security agent ushered them in front of a gentleman about 5 ahead of me for door 1  (!)  You have got to be shitting me!

"Ma'am?" I exclaimed, "What are you doing?".  "What did you say to me?", she demanded.

"Ma'am, you have placed travelers that just entered the queue ahead of persons us that were here prior to their arrival.  We are already here waiting!"  She explained that everyone needs to get through security (duh) and that I was still in line (double duh).   And then the best justification for her actions.. "I have the authority to place people where ever I want them!"  Well golly, her parents are surely proud.  I repeated my objection attempting to be clearer but I already knew such an attempt would be fruitless.

The gentleman behind me leaned forward and explained for the security agent gal and I to hear that my mistake was that I thought I was in a Priority Line, but in reality it was the De-Priority Line.  I turned and asked, "De-Prioritization?", his traveling colleague explained, "oh yes.  It's part of Air Canada's new campaign, they aren't happy until you're not happy."

Oh.  Now I would actually disagree that it is an Air Canada problem as AC did attempt to speed me on my way by paying for the special queue, but it was the security agents that get the fail in the science of queue mechanics.

After the brief nose to nose disagreement the security agent cut off all communication with me but also as additional travelers arrived in the queues she did not attempt to place anyone else in front of door 1.  A success. 

Have a great day, queue up!


  1. You must think you are special with your fancy priority status :)

  2. I hate lines,

    -a circle

  3. Also in line SE 8yr21 March 2014 at 05:43

    I hate that! Toronto started that odd 'fairness' that isn't a couple of months ago. Damned strange and irritating as f.