On Friday night I attempted to fly from Newark to Montreal--a silly notion in the face of the fierce thunderstorms that typically roll through here on summer afternoons. But on that day, the cumulonimbus towers contained much fury, but little staying power. I arrived to Newark airport to find clear skies, but unfortunately, no planes. The brief storm had scared them away.
"Sunday afternoon," the harried AirCanada gate agent flatly told me. The first flight I could take to Montreal to see my fiance Jackie would depart when I was supposed to be returning. So there was nothing to do except bond with a couple of stranded Montreal businessmen and decide to drive to Canada. My '93 Subaru Legacy wagon took over from a Boeing 727. and my new Quebecois friends Claude, Alfonso, and Richard played equal parts captain and passengers for our journey. We arrived to Montreal 7 hours and 2 tanks of gas later and at the 3am hour when the strip clubs and bars on Sainte Catherine were just closing. It took us 10 minutes to convince the puzzled Canadian customs agent why a car with New Mexico plates owned by a Pennsylvania man was filled with 3 Canadians, one with a Swiss passport, and another Venezuelan-born with a secretive import-export business.
"I wouldn't have done what you did," admitted the border agent in heavily accented English. But why not? Mishap and mis-direction are the best opportunities to meet people you never would.