Tuesday, July 28, 2015

PanAmazing journey

The PanAm games came and went.
From July 10 to July 26, I lived and breathed the games.
The whole city, despite some negativity about the HOV lanes, embraced the games.

My PanAm journey started on Sunday, July 5 with my first shift as a T3 driver.
I had a total of 6 shifts for the PanAm games, all of them starting at 6:00am.
It was hard to wake up at 5:00am and ride the bike to the depot on Cherry street.
That first day, I was in the Yellow group, Charlie 747

The first thing I did at the depot, was to lose my radio. Someone took it by mistake, so I had to tell the people in charge and get them to give me another radio. That first day, I was stationed at the Athletes village, then moved to the Westin before being moved to the staging area at the airport. We spent quite a lot of time in the tent at the airport, with no water or coffee. I was finally sent to terminal 3 where I picked up one passenger going to the Westin. He did not talk to me, and I went the wrong way on Queen's Quay. I dropped him off in the T3 line and told him I could not go in the drop off zone. The venue manager told me that I could if they have luggage, immediately after. I was let off early, around 11:30am.

Saturday, July 11: 
My second shift was not much busier than the first. 
I was in the Gold group, Charlie 605. I met Allan that day, old gentleman with lots of stories to tell. They did not allow us in the village this time, but a cop walked us around the village and showed us the buildings. I got one Brazilian reporter going to the media centre at Exhibition Place. The poor guy was friendly and wanted to talk but had very limited English. I went back to the Athletes village before being called back at 11:00.

Monday, July 13:
First vacation day of the year. Charlie 298.
Allan was in line ahead of me and told me to get in line behind him and be 'white' so we end up being stationed together. We were deployed to the Westin this time, and we made it through the second staging to first staging and then back to Cooper street. I drove to the Athletes village twice, once with 2 officials from Argentina and once with a sole female client, origin unknown. She did not look up from her phone. I was let go at 11:45, and I made my way to PAP (Pan Am Park) where I enjoyed some beach volleyball for free.

Sunday, July 19:
Blue team, Charlie 212. Westin, again.
Two cars jumped in line ahead of me, but was relatively short staging at staging 2.
I drove 2 guys to the Intercontinental Hotel on Bloor. They talked to each other mostly, except when we drove through Yorkville. As I pulled up in front of a T1 car, I felt a little rattle, and the official in the back said that I hit the car. They got out of the car and I checked the car but I couldn't see anything. I went to the other car and the driver said that I caught his tire. I returned to the Westin. All blue cars were sent to PAP, where I followed 2 drivers to the workforce dining room and got a hot meal and 3 pins. The driver I followed was a Quebec guy. We were called back shortly after we started watching the gymnastic rhythmic. I went to the car wash before returning the car and saw scrapes on the front right bumper. I reported the scrapes to Abraham, and he was very nice about it all.

Wednesday, July 22:
I got into the Gold team today, I was about 5 minutes later to the depot than usual. Charlie 311. The folder had 'RFT' on it, but later when I asked, I was told I was not RFT. There were 2 other drivers who were RFT and one of them had to pick up someone at a hotel and drive him to the airport. The other one had to pick up someone in Oakville. [I learned today that he picked up Pinball Clemons and drove him all day!!].
I popped into the trailer to say hi to the controllers today and finally got to see what the guy in my ear all day looked like. I was soon deployed to the Westin, on Cooper street, but was asked to go to PAP as soon as we got there. I went in with Janet and her niece Kristi. As soon as we were done using the washroom, we were redeployed to OPW (Ontario Place West) where waterskiing was taking place. We got to watch that for a bit and then Kristi got us meal vouchers at the workforce tent. When we got back to the parking lot, I was asked to drive 2 Canadian athletes to the village. One was a marathon runner and already ran the previous Saturday and the other was running the 10km in a couple of days. I nearly missed the exit on Jarvis and quickly exited the Gardiner, giving them a fright. They were very nice about it when I apologized for it. I drove back to OPW and then was called to PAV (Athletes village). I drove 4 Argentinians to the media centre at the Exhibition before my shift was over. I did watch Janet scrape her car on a big block at the village during this shift. When she reported it at the depot, Abraham told me that I did not scrape the car the other day! It was already reported! 

Saturday, July 25:
Final shift today. I heard stories about fleet workforce not being happy with drivers who got their cards punched at other venues, so I was stressing out about it. I overheard the guy talking to Allan and when I walked up to him, I asked him not to be mad. He was very cool about it and he gave me a pin and a small Pachi as well as my participation letter. 

I was in the Blue team, Charlie 214 and deployed to PAP right away. 
We went to see the marathon start and finish. Today I was with Teresa, Merle, Anna and Lynn. 
We saw a Canadian athlete walk by and Teresa congratulated him. He walked over and showed us his medal and chatted with us for a bit. He won the 20km walk. 

When the marathon was over, we went into the park and got ourselves Coca Cola cans with our names on it. Lynn sent Merle and myself the picture later. We then went to watch some racquetball and handball. Canadians were playing in both sports. As I returned to my car, we were called back shortly after, around 11:30.

When all was said and done, it was a great PanAm experience even if I did not drive as many people as I thought. The other drivers, a lot of them retirees, most of them offering their time in the spirit of the games, are kindred spirits. So long PanAm, looking forward to the Parapan in a week....