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Debbie Ridpath Ohi reads, writes and illustrates for young people. Every few weeks, she shares new art, writing and resources; subscribe below. Browse the archives here.

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pearson airport escape tips

Feeling somewhat better. Didn't go into the office, stayed at my Philly apartment. Tried to stay in bed and rest, but I found it nearly impossible to stay immobile for more than an hour and inevitably dragged myself back to the computer to do more prep for the workshops I'm giving next weekend in Surrey. How sad is that?! Here I am, moaning about how I wish I could have a few days doing nothing but rest, and I can't even take advantage of the first legitimate excuse I've had to do exactly that.

I was pretty braindead by the time I finally packed up to fly back to Toronto last night. I forgot my power cord, my digital camera and cables, my cellphone power adaptor. Didn't pack any clothes, just my laptop and my workshop paperwork. After we boarded the plane, I fell asleep before we took off, woke up when the plane bumped down for landing. Darn, missed my four pretzel sticks (how the airline classifies this as a "snack" is beyond me).

I have the routine down pat for getting out of the airport as efficiently as possible. I always ask for an aisle seat, around the middle of the plane. Too far forward and you risk not having room for your carry-on luggage in the overhead bins by the time you board the plane (US Airways boards rear rows first). If your seat is too far back, however, you have to wait until everyone gets off the plane before you can finally leave.

As I get off the plane, I try to manoeuver the handle on my carry-on so that I can extend it and start pulling the suitcase behind me without having to pause. Then it's a speedwalk race to the Customs area! It's pretty funny, all of us pretending that we don't really care if we get to Customs before the other passengers, but meanwhile walking as fast as we possibly can. Sometimes one of us breaks down under pressure and actually starts to run (this has happened to me).

Making it to Customs before most of the crowd is important because if you time it right, then you can zoom through relatively quickly and be out of the airport in a few minutes. If you're too slow, then you can get caught at the end of a lineup of at least 20-30 people, at least one of whom will be a suspicious-looking sort who takes at least 20 minutes arguing with the customs official in the booth, holding up everyone else, and you can be in line for over an hour. There's also an art to picking the right line at Customs, quickly gauging the people who will be ahead of you to guess which line will move the quickest. You also have to check out the Customs official in the booth at the front of the line, to see if they're the type to wave people through with a bored "I can't wait to get home to watch Survivor re-runs" attitude, or the keener type who likes to pepper travel-dazed passengers with a zillion questions.

Tips on getting past the Customs official quickly: fill out your form correctly! If you forget to fill in any required field, or make a mistake writing the date, you are an instant Suspect. Don't hesitate when answering questions. Don't try to be too friendly. Don't act like you're in a hurry. AND FOR HEAVEN'S SAKE, DON'T SLOUCH!!

Even after you're past Customs, however, the dangers are not yet have to get past baggage claim. Don't let yourself get distracted by the loud beeping or confused-looking travellers standing your way with weeping children and luggage carts piled with suitcases. Get to that exit, quickly before the others figure out where it is. Dodge and weave between the crowds like the seasoned traveller you are. WHAT??? You actually have checked luggage and have to wait for that? AUGH, YOU FOOL! You'll never get out of here now. I hope you brought a book.

Today's blatherpic:
Garrison (with the nice-smelling head) and Brittany, at the cottage.

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