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The Engineer

The Life and Times of Donald F. Simmons

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A Week in the States

Last week I was off to Connecticut to teach a training course for work, and an odyssey it was.

I had to leave Ad Astra early Sunday in order to make my flight (and I think AA went very well). I was flying into Bradley-Hartford in CT, and I was flying Delta with a connection thru JFK. When I booked the flight on the company website, there was a direct flight with Air Canada, but it was almost $400 more so I decided to be a good employee and take the cheaper flight. Big mistake.

I got to Pearson to find that my flight had just been cancelled due to bad weather (not in Toronto or Connecticut, but wherever the flight was coming from). And the best Delta could do was fly me the next day so I'd get in at 4:30 PM Monday, effectively throwing away the entire first day of my course. So I ran in a little circle for a minute, then called my boss and then the company emergency travel number, and got on the previously mentioned Air Canada flight, which actually got me in earlier than I would have otherwise made it. Since the course was supposed to start at 7:30 AM each morning, I was glad for the extra chance to sleep that night.

The course was for Sikorsky Helicopter, and my hotel was actually almost across the street from them. Unfortunately again, the training rooms there were all under renovation, so they got a small room at a nearby company they worked with. And I mean small. There were 12 people from Sikorsky taking the course, and the room could fit maybe 8 comfortably, everyone was in there hunched over laptops with no elbow room, and the room was stifling in next to no time. Also, there are apparently no sidewalks in Connecticut. My hotel was on the top of a hill, the road lead down to an interchange, and there was nowhere and no way to take a stroll at all. I had counted on walking back from the training center to my hotel in the afternoon for some exercise, but it was just impossible.

Fortunately, Vanna, one of the engineers taking the class, very graciously gave me a lift to and from my hotel each day, as she was passing that way. She also one afternoon got me into Sikorsky to take a quick tour. We got on the factory floor where they assemble the Black Hawks, and it was extremely cool. There were about 50 of them in this huge space (which was cleaner than my apartment to be honest) in various stages of assembly. Vanna said that the US military was buying them as fast as they could assemble them, as they are wearing our a lot faster than anticipated overseas. I had to show my passport and Vanna had to clear it with her boss to get me in, security is pretty tight.

The course itself I think went well. I spent a couple of days preparing for it, and I managed to answer nearly all of the questions that came my way. There were a couple I had to figure out Monday when I got back to work as they were errors I'd never seen in five years of working with the software.

On my way back, Delta cancelled my flight AGAIN, Delta apparently standing for "Doesn't Ever Leave The Airport". I had actually made it on the place at Bradley-Hartford, we sat there for a hour, and then got off thanks to weather at JFK. It was early evening Thursday, and they said they could fly me out at 6:30 AM the next day. So I just got a room at the hotel attached to the airport. At least I got to see the ER finale "live". Had to get up at about 5 AM in order to make the plane, we sat there for another hour while they rebooted some computers, and then we finally got off, to JFK, and back to Toronto. Next time I'm taking the Air Canada flight, price be damned.

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I was in CT two weeks ago, I took a direct flight from YYZ to LGA on Air Canada. Well... actually the flight was cancelled and I rebooked on another one an hour later. On the replacement flight the plane's APU was broken, I think the only effect that had was on internal power at the gate. At LGA I had a car rental reservation, drove to West Hartford. I agree the Air Canada flight to Bradley looked expensive, but a short hop from JFK to Bradley sounds like a big wild card when you could be taking a car or an MTA train.

On my way back, Delta cancelled my flight AGAIN, Delta apparently standing for "Doesn't Ever Leave The Airport".

That's what evil_admiral, who lives in Atlanta (their hub), calls it. Cracked me up the first time he said it (after I'd had problems similar to yours).

It sounds very GI-humour, somehow.

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