COLLABORATE13 Day Zero

Apr 7, 2013 / By Michael Abbey

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Day one, sort of, for #C13DEN. Ever since I started using Twitter in 2011, I have conjured up imaginative reasons for the hash sign prefix to tags. I continue to settle on one rather odd explanation. One of the pseudonyms for that character on the keyboard is the pound sign. Since that is a unit of measurement, I think back to Marty in Back to the Future calling everything “heavy”. Heavy = pound means everything said on Twitter is potentially heavy.

I flew out of Pearson mid-afternoon, which was wise. That is probably the least busy time of day and I was in luck. The Air Canada kiosk let me down a different way than I had experienced yet. I went through the lengthy boring dialogue with Martha (my name for the kiosk). We got to the document being used for entry into the USA question and I proudly chose my Nexus. I then placed the card in the scanner as instructed, and the machine told the name on my ticket (Michael S. Abbey) was not the same as that registered with Nexus. That was news to me. So we keep going and Martha’s next prompt wants the number from my travel document. I assumed by then that she had already refused to use Nexus so we must be back at the default choice – passport. She asks for the number on my travel document so I enter the first two alpha characters of said document and they do not register on the screen. I enter the 6 numbers which do then gaze at the screen showing a 6-digit number rather than an 8-digit alphanumeric string. Silly keyboard – I try again with the same result. I abandon the silly machine and inquire of an attendant who instructs me to proceed to the G counters for assistance.

The line at G is short but still annoyingly long. I have probably had serveral million flights in my time, so it seemed especially odd that this time I could not check-in at the kiosk. About 20 minutes later I was on my way to customs. I entered the 2-person Nexus line rather than the 2,000 person non-Nexus line and the machine there froze part way through the dialogue that terminates in the receipt of a piece of paper that allows you into the USA. I re-started the dialogue with a machine beside the one frozen and that worked fine. I figured that Martha had contacted the machine on the right informing her to not allow me into the USA after the position I put Martha in during Air Canada electronic check-in. Fortunately Martha did not have enough time to contact ALL her Nexus counterparts so I was on my way to the USA, card in hand.

I toddled off to gate F34 after handing my entry card to a uniformed USA customs agent and discovered, suprise surprise, that that gate was the furthest away possible. That always reminds me of two other situations where one is ALWAYS plopped somewhere that is the furthest physically away from where one is going. Firstly, when the front desk person checks you into a hotel, the computer chooses the room furthest away from the elevator. Secondly, when selecting a gate at an arriving airport, Martha’s cousin Jenn selects the gate furthest away from baggage claim. Jenn is so sophisticated that she knows if this is your final destination. If not, she still places you as far away as possible from your connecting gate – preferably in a different lettered terminal from where you arrived.

So I arrive at F34, some 11.5 kilometres from the customs person who gladly took my card. There were lots of moving walkways to use, and I am always intrigued by the fact that nobody gets gobbled up by the treads as they disappear into the floor. I have an hour until the flight leaves. About 15 minutes later, an Air Canada person appears. I count to 178 (a random number) after his appearance then toddle off to the counter to ask a question that ranks as odd with both the asker and the askee … is there any exit row available? This question is ridiculous from the viewpoint of the person at the gate who has a 212 person plane to load and some idiot wants to talk seat change. It is ridiculous from my standpoint as one almost always gets a “no sorry” from the counter attendant. As ridiculous as it is from both ends, I am overwhelmed with excitement as the attendant utters two of my favorite words when flying – “aisle or window.” Say what? I am in 19F and loving it. I have always wondered why the seats in a 4-seat span are called A, B, E and F. Have C and D been dropped from the English language?

I sleep most of the way to DEN and start writing this very text, a testimony to the trip I am on to COLLABORATE 13. I have been going to these tech shows sponsored/facilitated by the IOUG since 1990 in Anaheim CA. The trip into town will be taxi, and hopefully I will run into someone I know so we can share. The journey from DEN into the city is long, the reason why travellers get there up to a day before a show begins. Getting there so far in advance guarantees that the trip from the airport to the hotel will end before the event starts.

So what will this week bring? My prime mission is two-fold. First is my desire to support this wonderful company I work for and do whatever I can to enhance our profile in the community and market our services and personnel to a hungry customer base. My second is to learn and network. Networking is the primary community based need that all shows foster, especially those run by the user groups. Tomorrow is packed with education with a bevvy of well-respected and loved presenters. The show officially starts Monday and my first session is late morning. Stay tuned for more musings.

Have you had memorable experiences as of late with carriers in North America? It seems that the catch-all phrase used to “blame” for poor service is that this is the post-911 world and our hands are tied. Agreed or not?

Don’t miss a suite of sessions at COLLABORATE13 from strong Pythian presenters. A synopsis can be views here. See you at the show. Please stop one of us in the hall to chat; we’d love to meet each and every one of you.

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