Travels To The Hinterland

A Geezer’s Notebook, By Jim Foster

Now I certainly don’t want to sound like a tightwad, a skinflint, or even an unpatriotic cad for attacking a well-respected Canadian institution, and far be it for me to suggest that a Canadian business would knowingly shaft an unsuspecting member of the public but the scoundrels did just that. I am sorry to suggest that WestJet is guilty of sneaking up behind me and using a part of my body that was not designed for such an invasion.

Should their management read this verbal attack on their rascality, there is a good chance they will dump me out over Lake Superior on our return. Here I am assuming they won’t cancel the flight altogether in retaliation.

Just before COVID 19 struck, Mary and I were booked for a return flight to Winnipeg at what we thought was a reasonable price of $495. That rate was for seats inside the plane for both of us. (Outside is several dollars cheaper, but a jacket is required) That price included the opportunity to buy alcoholic beverages at prices that suggest the drinks must be ordered off the bar menu of the Harbour Castle. Like thousands of others during the pandemic we had to cancel and we left the original $495 with WestJet until the interprovincial flight restrictions were lifted and normal passenger service was resumed.

However when we rebooked this summer, for reasons I suspect can be found in paragraph 2 on page 12 of Al Capone’s playbook, the price had skyrocketed to 1785 bucks. A couple of hundred dollars increase I can understand, but close to $1300? When you get screwed like that there should be at least a kiss involved.

I am not sure what the protocol about wearing COVID masks in the airport and on the flight will be but we will gladly wear them. I am sure the management and staff of WestJet will be wearing them too; however theirs will be replicas of the masks popular with bank robbers and horse thieves in the late 1800s and references will no doubt be made about having an itchy trigger finger.

Mary and I really had no choice but to go this year. As I am sure you know, it is required by terms of the British North America Act that the brighter citizens of Ontario travel to Manitoba every few years to bring some measure of civilization to that backward province.

I understood their reasoning having been there several times before. The year my brother-in-law retired, my father and I flew out in January for Jack’s retirement dinner. In retrospect, I should have realized that during the tributes my mention of how tired Ontarians were of supporting anyone living west of Kenora might be taken as criticism of their clumsy attempt to contribute in some small way to the building of this great nation. Thankfully the timely intervention of the Winnipeg Police Department and an RCMP SWAT team saved me from actual physical harm. On the other hand, dropping me a few feet across the Manitoba-Ontario border in the dead of winter was not well planned as it was -50 Fahrenheit and I was naked except for a Toronto Maple Leaf toque.

The next time I journeyed west, I travelled by train to that quaint provincial capital in June when the temperature is a more comfortable 104F with mosquitoes, frequent tornadoes, monsoons, plagues of locusts and flash floods. Summering in Manitoba is akin to living in the Old Testament. I expected to see little roadside stands selling Ziploc bags to gather up the manna that falls from the sky on a regular basis in Biblical countries.  

Really I am actually quite fond of Manitoba because of their thoughtful liquor laws. If I remember correctly Manitoba is the only province where one can buy beer from the local taverns. And that dear friends, is a good thing. If a drinker has a glow on he doesn’t have to wait until he gets home for just one more to top off the evening. He can buy a dozen and snap a cap or two anywhere along the way, then throw the empties out the window onto Portage Avenue. However one must be careful not to get caught, the penalties are extremely harsh in the Prairie Provinces; if you remember from your Grade Eleven history class they hung Louis Riel for something as simple as trying to overthrow the government.

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