Canoecopia is one very busy paddling showIt was going all so well - too well. It was the first day of March Break, one of the busiest times to be at the Toronto airport, but I managed to get through the ticket agency and security in record time. I didn’t even get strip searched this time. The officer only checked my buttocks out with the back side of his gloved hands and waved his special wand under my armpits. Not a big deal in the grand scheme of security checks. The flight prior to mine was late arriving but mine wasn’t. What a surprise. Usually something always happens to me on the way to speak at Canoecopia - the largest paddling show in North America. I was launching my new film The Happy Camper's Wilderness Quest. Then we boarded. I sat comfortably in my designated seat, all set to depart to Minneapolis where I would get a connecting flight to Madison well in advance of that plane’s departure.
I gave my wife a call to tell her things seemed to be going smoothly. She replied “The flights not over yet.” That’s when it happened of course. The woman sitting beside me noticed her tray table latch was loose. She gave it a wiggle (not sure why she did that) and it broke off. Before any seasoned traveler could stop here, she pushed the steward button for assistance. What a mistake! This broken piece of plastic had to be fixed before we were allowed to leave the gate; all for the sake of National aviation safety. This, of course, meant that a maintenance person had to be called - which took a full forty minutes to arrive. The plastic knob was replaced, proceeded with ten minutes of paper work. In total we were just over an hour behind - but I still had time to make it for my connecting flight. Then, a surprise snowstorm hit the runway. It was sunny before, and then sunny again after the four minute snowstorm. But this meant the plane had to go back to get de-iced. Add another twenty minutes to our delay and the chance of making my connecting flight seemed dismal.
It wasn’t just me that grew anxious over making the next flight, but we all reacted to the stress different. The gentlemen in front of me used the aged-old bossy approach; yelling at the steward and demanding action be taken. The woman that started the whole affair tried crying. The woman beside her tried begging. I tried a little bit of fibbing.
I informed the stewart I needed to make my connection. No later flights would work due to a performance I was giving at 7:00 p.m. that evening. I seemed to get more attention with that then the yelling, crying and begging the others had tried. “You’re a performer?” the steward asked excitedly. “You look like a comedian Are you a comedian? he asked. Before I could answer with a detailed description of what a presentation at Canoecopia was all about, the man across from me claimed I looked like Martin Short. I’ve been labelled Barney Fife and the legendary Ed Wynn. I was even labelled the “Red Green of the Canoe World” during a previous presentation at Canoecopia. But I never really trademarked myself as a “Martin Short.” It didn’t really matter at this point, however. The stewart at least tried to have the connecting flight wait until I arrived. He failed, of course. But I had the attention of all the other passengers on the plane the rest of the trip. The stewart even gave us all complementary whiskeys.
I got the next flight out of Minneapolis for Madison. It landed at 6:30 p.m. and by the time I exited the plane and ran through the airport, it was close to 7:00 p.m. I waved down a taxi and promised the driver a $20 tip if she got me to the show on time. She did - with seven minutes to spare. Before I entered the auditorium, however, I made a pit stop at the mini bar set up outside the room and ordered a beer. I then opened the theatre doors and proceed to greet a full house of 500 plus people waiting for my arrival. Without missing a beat, I clipped on the microphone, stood in front of the crowd, cracked open my beer and said “I had a bad day at the airport, so if you don’t mind I’m going to drink this beer while presenting.” The audience was quite at first, uncomfortably quiet, until someone in back yelled out “Sure, you’re Canadian.” “Yes I am” I replied; my name is Martin Short.”