For grade 12 I went to a boarding school 1,300 miles from home in Regina, Saskatchewan. The school was where my Dad graduated from and he was proud that one of his girls was going to go there as well.
When Christmas break came along there was, as usual, a lot of snow in Regina. However, we were used to it there and it posed no problems for my flight. Vancouver Airport, where I was heading, was a completely different story. It was fogged in like crazy. Our plane took off on time but while in the air, we were told there may be some problems landing.
Now, some more background to this story. Right behind the school the training barracks for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). We would see the recruits running around the blocks clearly in training mode.
Back to the flight. I just happened to be sitting with 6 recruits who were getting a few days off to spend the holidays with their families. They were all young and very good looking. This shy and awkward 17-year-old was in heaven. The two-hour flight turned into 2 1/2 hours and we ended up landing in Abbotsford, which is about the same distance from our home as the Vancouver Airport but in the opposite direction.
We were told if we knew our rides would be at Abbotsford we could get off but our luggage would go onto Vancouver. I was sure my parents would go to Abbotsford, but the guys would not let me off. They said if my family did go to Vancouver it would mean more travel in this dense fog and I would be stranded for awhile.
What do you say when a half a dozen handsome young men, months away from being police officers have your back! 😀 So, I stayed on the plane and eventually we were whisked onto school buses bound for Vancouver. I stayed with my “bodyguards”, feeling very safe and happy.
Once we got to the Vancouver Airport it was a madhouse. I am very bad in crowds and it really showed. My anxiety and panic were really starting to show no matter how hard I tried to hide it. The guys just kept me with them and eventually we found my parents, who had been told to go to Abbotsford and when there said that they had to go to Vancouver.
We waited a very long time for my luggage but never found it. My parents thanked the guys very much for taking care of me and we went home. I was exhausted and fell asleep immediately upon hitting the pillow.
I had promised my Mom I would take her shift at the drug store they owned so she could get ready for the Christmas party they put on every year for the staff. I had nothing to wear so I had to borrow some pants from her with my t-shirt from the flight. Luckily we wore white smocks so it covered it up.
I also had to borrow clothes from my closet that I hadn’t taken with me. They weren’t really appropriate as they were my summer things, but I made do. To be honest, I was less worried about my clothes as I was the fact that all my presents were in those two suitcases that were somewhere in a sea of unclaimed luggage!
Finally, on Christmas Eve, three days after I flew in, my bags were delivered to the house. All gifts were accounted for and not broken. What a relief seeing as I had no way of getting out to get more. The stores were closing early.
We all went out for Christmas Eve dinner, which was a tradition, and then came back to the house. My sister and her husband left with their two boys but would come back the next day for present opening and Christmas dinner.
So, I made it back home for Christmas despite the snow at one end and fog at the other. It was a good time and my flight back was uneventful.
But this is not the end of the story. Now, when the recruits did their run, six of them would always wave, ask how the holidays were, how school was going, and even give me a wink. The other girls were so jealous. This plain Jane with zero self-esteem felt pretty good inside!