flying north flies north to montréal, and meets a music legend along the way


I’m not a huge fan of LaGuardia – the airport that is.  The airport named after the WWII mayor of New York City is generally used for domestic flights, so I much rather be travelling somewhere far far away than taking a puddle jumper to Buffalo.  However, there are flights that head to our Celine Dion-loving neighbors to the north, as was the case with my flight to Montreal.

For those New Yorkers who insist on taking a taxi to LaGuardia, if you take the Q or N to Astoria Boulevard, there you can pick up the M60 bus which takes you to the airport in 10 minutes.  Especially if you are coming from work in midtown on a Friday rush hour, making part of the trip underground is the way to go, and it worked out beautifully.

Since I had already checked in online, upon my arrival at LaGuardia I checked for the gate information so I could head there shortly.  Beforehand, I marveled at the hustle and bustle of crowds of people rushing to get flights to places like Cincinnati and Detroit.  I mean, really? Why rush to get out of New York City?  Stay and see a show or something, and of course if you see something say something.

Perhaps they were all put in a zombie-like trance as a result of the chemical warfare of the fake butter smell from Auntie Annie’s pretzel and hot dog concession, they were shocked into submission by the price of a simple bag of mixed nuts, or they were longing for the glorious and genius sugar/salt/fat of McDonalds fries, which were not to be found.  For whatever reason, the response was pavlovian, as the masses moved like a flock of birds, perfectly coordinated to migrate to their particular gate.

Before I actually headed to my gate I decided to use the restroom just in case.  I didn’t want to have to explain to the Canadian border control agents why my pants were wet.   Anyway, entering Canada should involve border control not bladder control.  As I was in there, I noticed something familiar in my periphery [insert joke here].  It was not what you think – in actuality there was a man who I believe I recognized [ok insert another joke here].  With him was an assistant, the size of and solid as a house, helping him wash his hands.  I knew who this was. 

I followed them out of the restroom and they stopped to talk.  At that moment in time, I approached the two of them, outstretched my newly-washed hand, and said, “Stevie Wonder, may I introduce myself.  My name is [j], and it is truly a pleasure to run into you here.  I was going to begin singing the verse to “I wish” but I thought after thirty years you are probably tired of hearing it!”

Stevie replied with all of the class of corn-rowed royalty, and said, “Looking back on when I was a little nappy-headed boy.”  I then replied, without missing a beat “and my only worry was for Christmas what would be my toy!  [Thank goodness I picked a song with lyrics I knew and even better that I didn’t forget that lyric.  Good thing he didn’t start singing Higher Ground].  He then laughed then I laughed, and his assistant just looked at us with a blank stare.  He then said nice to meet you, and I said likewise.  I wished him a safe flight, and we went our ways.

I don’t know why these kinds of things tend to happen to me when I’m travelling, but they do, and I never know what strange or interesting twist of time-space will present itself when I am on the road.  I waited at the gate to board the small Embraer aircraft [only three seats across] and we were on our way.  The weather was perfect for a take-off, the sun was just going down, and New York City looked more beautiful than ever. 

From there, Montréal was only about an hour, a complimentary drink, an Economist podcast and a few almonds away.