Smiling at Strangers

{February 23, 2010}   Tiara-less Tab, part one: Greyhound

Gooood morning, world! What a crazy weekend. The verdict is already in the title (I didn’t make it to the national round), but I’m still going to give the details of the event. And the events leading to the event.

It was complete hell getting from Vancouver to Kelowna; even worse than the return trip of Kelowna to Victoria, even though the return was twice as much distance. As I may have posted before, I spent the few days leading up to the pageant at a friend’s house in Vancouver; on Friday, she drove me to the Skytrain in Surrey and I was on my way to the greyhound depot, where I was to arrive at 11:30 to pick up my ticket an hour early for the 12:30 bus. On the Skytrain, I realized that I didn’t know where the bus depot was. That was a small problem. But only small, I thought, because here I am on a bus full of Vancouver residents who will be able to help me.

Wrong. The Olympics had drained all local existence from Vancouver, and everyone I spoke to on the bus either said, “Sorry, I’m not from here,” or “я не говорю английскую язык” or something to that effect. Now, despite what a great many people will tell you, I am not incredibly hopeless with directions and finding my way around cities, but I’m going to tell you the address I had from the greyhound website, and let’s see if YOU can make a great deal of sense out of it.





I eventually gleaned little bits of helpful information from a number of people who seemed to have some minimalistic knowledge of Vancouver, and that would have been great if they hadn’t all contradicted. “Oh, so, the main terminal,” said one lady. “That would be right here,” And she pointed at the rail map on the train where one terminal was labeled “MAIN/SCIENCE WORLD”.

“That’s what I thought,” I told her, “But then what’s this ‘Pacific Centre’ part about?”

Well, she didn’t know. So I asked another girl, who said “Oh, the Pacific Centre is in Granville. So get off in Granville. The ‘main’ just means the main terminal in Granville.”

She seemed quite sure of herself. Another lady, however, seemed equally sure of herself when she said “There’s a big bus depot at the MAIN/SCIENCE WORLD terminal; that must be it. It’s on Terminal Avenue.”

“Are you sure it’s not Station Street?” I asked.

“Yup. Terminal Avenue.”

So, I ended up going to the Granville station, because even though a “big bus depot” definitely sounded like what I was looking for, I was definitely not searching for Terminal Avenue.

Especially if it was like this.

And if you’re a Vancouver resident who happens to be reading this, you’ve probably got your palm in your face by now, because Granville was definitely not the right station. (But if you’re a Vancouver resident who happens to be reading this, I’ve got a personal grudge against you for not being on the Skytrain at 11:00 on February 19th.) And by time I got there, it was 11:30 and I was supposed to be picking up my ticket at that moment.

I dithered about helplessly for a few minutes, standing outside on the street that was not Station, with my 46 lb luggage in one hand that I had just hauled up a great number of stairs, and then resignedly trudged back down and took the next Skytrain to Main. Applause, applause, it was the right one. But when I got there it was quarter after 12, and by the time I got to the front of the line at the ticket booth, it was 12:30 and my bus was just leaving. I woefully told the ticket lady that “I guess I have to buy a ticket for the next greyhound to Kelowna,” and she kindly informed me that it was okay; tickets can be transfered to the next bus time free of charge. The next bus was at 2:15. That was the first wonderful news of the day. No matter that I would get to my hotel at 9:00 rather than 7:00; at least I wasn’t going to have to fork over another $100 dollars for a new ticket like I’d thought. Oh happy day!

So I hung around until 1:45, then went through security and showed my ticket to the guard. He said, “Ok, terminal tirteen.”

“15?” I asked, mishearing (he had an accent).

“Tirteen. One-tree.”

So off I went, and waited at Terminal Tirteen for half an hour. Then another half an hour. More people showed up and lined up behind me. No bus appeared. But more people were coming. There must have been a delay, I thought, and I stuck it out. Finally, at 20 after 3, a bus pulled in and we were herded towards it. At the booth by the front of the bus, the lady asked me where I was going. “Kelowna,” I said. “You’re on the wrong bus,” she said. “WHAT,” I said. “That was at 2:15. Terminal 21,” she said.

I stormed over to the security guards where I, for the first time in my entire life, got angry at a stranger. I’ve been furious in public before, with family members usually, but sometimes with strangers. But I’ve always been polite and figured, well, everyone makes mistakes. But I had just stood waiting, in the cold, for a bus that was already putting me behind schedule as it was. I know Miss Teen Canada should always be graceful and composed. But I was not. “YOU TOLD ME TERMINAL THIRTEEN,” I yelled when I was 7 inches from his face. “I just waited for over an hour for the WRONG BUS! I told you I was going to KELOWNA!”

“Oh, I’m sorry, Miss,” he replied. “The next bus is at 6:00. There is nothing I can do. The bus to Kelowna has left.”

Oh, really? It had? Thanks.

Six o’clock. Well, I wasn’t about to believe his word so readily this time, but unfortunately, he was right about the time of the next bus. I trudged back into the depot and sat in a corner and cried for 5 minutes. It sounds pathetic on here, but this was actually a much bigger problem than mere inconvenience and infuriating employees. You see, the Sandman where I was supposed to be staying had a check-in time of midnight. Taking a bus at 6:00 would get me to Kelowna at just a bit after midnight, and by the time I got to the hotel from the Greyhound, it would certainly be too late to check in. I have no friends or family in Kelowna, and I had very little money left at this point to just book a room in some other motel or hotel. I was panicking. I had no internet, and my phone was dead (I lost my charger), and here I was, stranded in the Vancouver bus station wondering if I was going to have to sleep in a Salvation Army that night.

If I had a REAL greyhound to ride, I would have been there in no time at all.

I got myself together after the few minutes of indulging in self-pity and anxiety, and since I had some time to spare, I went and searched for an internet cafe. I paid 5 dollars for half an hour, and I wrote to the director of the pageant, who I hoped was already in Kelowna and could help me. And… well, she saved me. “I’ll tell them you can’t check in and sort it out. Ryan will pick you up from the bus depot when you arrive.”

I felt like she was already judging me on my helplessness, but I accepted gratefully. And so I made it to Kelowna and got to my lodging safely in the end, at 2:00 in the morning. I got five hours of sleep before the first big day of training for the pageant. But at least I got there.


{February 19, 2010}   If *I* Were a Judge…!

Well, first of all, I would have wept such tears of joy at being there, at the 2010 Winter Oympics, in person, that I wouldn’t have been able to see the events properly and would have had to resort to looking over the shoulder of the next judge to appoint a mark, like a naughty schoolchild. So it’s probably good that I’m not a judge after all, even overlooking the fact that I am in no way qualified. But sitting here in the warmth of my friend’s home in Surrey, watching men’s figure skating all day and armed with my laptop and the freedom of speech, aint no one gonna tell me I’m not a judge in my own right!

You know what? I hadn’t watched men’s figure skating before today since…. since I was a young, young child, who registered only minimal interest. I had no idea that I would like it so much. I’ve always enjoyed watching the Olympics, but the only event before today which I took more than a casual interest in was gymnastics (being a pseudo-bendy-gymnast-wannabe myself). So the impact these men’s performances had on me was …surprising. Anyway, let this act as a disclaimer that I am not a professional, and not even a skater, and thus I will not be delving into details of the way one skate turned inwards on the landing of a triple-salchow or anything. That was the judges’ jobs, anyway. As the post-medal-disgruntled-irritant-judge, my job is only to complain about why they were wrong.

So, if I were a judge, first of all, I would like to say… yes, I would have given Evan Lysacek the gold. He was brilliant. Firstly, it was a simple relief to watch him consistently land his jumps, after virtually every contestant previous had fallen or stumbled at some point. But it wasn’t just his almost-flawless technique; the energy and power with which he delivered just… gave me chills.

Although it helped that he looked like a total super-villain, which was really cool.

He looked like such a super-villain that I thought he was Russian. Only Russians look that nefarious.

And while I’m agreeing with the judges, yes, Plushenko, if he wasn’t to get gold (because that was a close contest if I ever saw one) would obviously get silver. I know there’s a big frenzy going on right now with the dispute of why Lysacek won over Plushenko despite not doing a quad (was it Plushenko’s attitude that swayed the judges? Did they not want to give him a gold because of his aggressive remark that with a quad it is not men’s skating? Was it all rigged by aliens? Has this controversy all been created to draw attention away from Johnny Weir’s outfits?), and no, I don’t have any arguments that will sway the minds of people who are on Plushenko’s side. All I can say was that Plushenko’s quad was not perfect, and his performance did not give me chills like Lysacek’s did.

Although they actually scored the same in the component part, so that last bit is obviously just me.

The issues I have with the figure skating events of the night are with Patrick Chan, Johnny Weir, and Nobunari Oda. Well, no, not with *them* personally (unless we’re talking about the issue I have with Weir’s costume choices), of course, but their placements. Seriously, this does pain me, because Patrick Chan is a good ol’ Canadian like yours truly… but he stumbled bad. And then he fell. The rest of his performance was good; great, even. But there was no way he should have beaten the two contestants below him.

I have such a problem with the mark docking on Oda’s mishap with the skate lace! Sure, it is his responsibility to come to the arena with sound equipment, but a snapping lace that causes one to fall is much less one’s fault than just falling is. And other than that, Oda’s skate was incredible. Better than Chan’s. So if the good parts of his performance were better than the good parts of Chan’s, and the flaw was more out of his control than Chan’s was….. arrgh.

And then, of course, where does that put poor Johnny Weird Weir? He didn’t even fall on his rump like the other two. He was marvellous and charismatic on the ice, he skated a clean program… I’m not going to stoop down to crying “The judges are homophobes!”, because much as I don’t share the same viewpoint as them, I grudgingly admit that I’m sure they know what they are doing a lot better than I do.

So I’m just going to cry “It’s not fair!” instead.

Not pictured: a bronze medal. Pictured: I'm still not entirely sure.

So tell me, ever-elusive readers. Who do YOU think skated better than the rank they earned?

et cetera