Friday, December 14, 2007

Impressions from a Toronto business trip

Tim Hortons, the Dunkin’ Donuts of Canada, makes a blueberry fritter that’s so gooey and glazey and delicious you want to spank it.

Toronto Pearson International Airport is about as beautiful as any modern steel-and-girders airport has a right to be. It takes a simple visual vocabulary of soaring arches and glass walls and open spaces and exposed trusswork, washes it all in whites, and creates a clean, calming, logically organized people-moving environment.

How come customs agents will arbitrarily demand crash courses in advertising creative philosophy from you before they will let you enter their country, but security screeners won’t notice that you forgot to take out your legally mandated plastic bag of liquids and place them in a separate scanning tub twice?

We had two days of meetings sandwiching a three-hour drinks-and-appetizers client meet-n-greet. Normally I hate small talk and big crowds—especially small talk with clients, which automatically eliminates “so, what do you do for a living?” from your arsenal of conversation starters—but I really like these clients, and the restaurant we picked (Paradiso in charming Oakville) served us delicious food in a funky environment. Plus, I may have loosened up beforehand with a vodka tonic.

Canadians follow US football and watch US television. I don’t know why learning this surprised me so much. And kind of embarrassed me once I heard what their favorite US shows are.

They use the same snow in Canada that we use in the United States. Or maybe they’re just importing our snow now that the dollar is so weak.

Speaking of snow, I’m amazed we even got off the ground in yesterday’s blizzard. We had to go through a two-step de-icing before we took off, but our pilot walked us through the process so we’d get what was going on. The first step was a spray of pink soapy stuff that washed existing ice off the fuselage. The second step was a day-glo green goo they sprayed on the wings to prevent new ice from accumulating. It clung to the wings like an “ex-gay” to his delusions, and as we waited to take off I could see all the planes lined up self-consciously in front of us with their green wings glowing as conspicuously as a rainbow bra under a white sweater set.

I was so excited to land yesterday in time to listen to NPR on my drive home, which I never get to do when I take the bus home from the office. Unfortunately, NPR is obviously facing a year-end budget deficit so severe that they were staging a fund drive smack-dab in the middle of shopping season. Best of luck with that. To make matters worse, they’d changed their phone number, and the only thing the radio personalities could come up with off-script was the fact that it was so hard to remember the new number. Which kind of boggles the mind—if you’re able to say “This is 91.5 WBEZ” about a thousand times a day you really shouldn’t have trouble remembering 888-915-WBEZ. All things considered.

No comments: