Thursday, October 19, 2006


My dear friends and fellow readers of this blog who you have patiently suffered with me through the weeks of waiting: on Sunday evening my phone rang to announce The End of Ouch.

I was told to appear for customs clearance on Monday morning 8 am, somewhere in the middle-of-nowhere Kitchener, Ontario. There I went, Monday morning at sunrise, to a dead end street in an industrial park, lost between an infinite amount of containers from all over the world. The only living soul I could detect was a women clinging to a coffee cup who didn't look like someone you would want to disturb before finishing this very cup.

So I wandered around between the containers until suddenly a man jumped out of a corner, looked at me and said back of the building, up the ramp, before he disappeared to where he came from, maybe my imagination. Nevertheless, that I did, and found an office the approximate size of an award winning pumpkin with equally appealing interior design. At third sight I noticed a to pumpkin color faded sign saying Canadian Customs.

When I entered, I saw someone sitting in there who looked confusingly familiar. I tried to place his face unsuccessfully until his BlackBerry began to beep, and I realized he's a new postdoc at PI. That's how large Waterloo is.

What unsurprisingly did not appear until 10 am was the moving van. Out of which stepped Viko-the-moving-guy just to point out that nobody was in that pumpkin office who knew anything about customs. A fact that had been hard to ignore the two hours we were staring either at each other or at the orange walls. When finally someone appeared who pretended to be someone that someone did so only to request $ 11.45, and send me to the airport. At the airport I was asked whether I import any firearms. I correctly answered with no, upon which the lady said 'Welcome to Canada', stamped and handed me a form. And that was customs.

The nasty surprise at my apartment though was that Viko-the-moving-guy did not only use an extremely disgusting aftershave, but simply refused to assemble my furniture, claiming it wasn't written in his contract. It didn't impress him zip that it was written in my contract. Pointing out that he was hired by a sub-company of a sub-company of a sub-company, he shrugged his shoulders and left me within a complete mess.

Consequently, I immediately went back to yelling at customer service representatives, and when I'm done with it, I'm afraid you'll have to endure a lengthy report with naming all the companies who are executors of Murphy's law on earth.

I managed to assemble desks and bookshelves. (Even though I found myself climbing into the dumpster in the darkness, because I had accidentally thrown away some screws. I startled some squirrels in there who had plenty of fun with the bubble wrap.)

Thanks to the help of our yesterday's colloquium speaker, now also the bed is usable again. As a pleasant side effect, I got from him all the explanations about dark matter I asked and didn't ask for, and I promise will write something about his very interesting talk... as soon as I am done with unpacking. All the essentials of civilization are back in my household: the can-opener! my towels! the hair dryer! the microwave! and my teddy-bear :-)


  1. Welcome to Canada! :-)

  2. Thanks, yes, please, I'll move soon too, I need to hear all the details about the moving companies.

  3. Will you be wearing a pom-pom atop your tuque? All else pales into insignificance.
    One Size fits most, in cotton not wool!

  4. I looked up Waterloo on the map and, well... it's not there... ;)

  5. Hi Island ;-)

    You know what: the first time I visited PI, I almost accidentally booked a flight to Waterloo, Iowa.

    But I am pretty sure Waterloo, Ontario exists - at least Google knows it (maybe I live in a virtual reality?)

    Google Maps



  6. You know what: the first time I visited PI, I almost accidentally booked a flight to Waterloo, Iowa.

    That's too funny. I can just imagine the look on the cab drivers face as you try to give him directions to the PI from Iowa.

  7. Hi Island,

    Well, the guy who invited me to PI told me the closest airport is Waterloo. So I went to and typed in 'Waterloo'. The flight duration was about okay. But I didn't actually book the flight. I was kind of suspicious because my colleague is known to be a master of desorganization.

    Anyhow, I told that story to the secretary to the other day, and she told me that they had a visitor who actually flew to Iowa (she didn't tell me though who it was).




    PS: The closest airport to PI is in Kitchener, which is a pretty small airport but has an okay connection to Detroit. But the airport of choice is Toronto YYZ, PI usually provides a pick up there, it's about a 1 hour ride on the highway to Waterloo.

  8. I told that story to the secretary to the other day, and she told me that they had a visitor who actually flew to Iowa (she didn't tell me though who it was).

    I think that I caught wind of his reaction all the way down here in the land of sun... but I didn't recognize his voice... ;)


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