Monday, December 21, 2009

Stirring the Emotional Embers at NT Air

Watching that video for the first time caused me to gasp – even though I knew from the news what I was about to see.

My Dad worked at NT Air for about 40 years, retiring just under two years ago.

I underestimated just how much that building was a piece of my identity until last night when I watched this. I’ve walked through that hanger more times than I could possibly count.

When I was in kindergarten my class did a field trip to the airport and we got to ride on a plane (never leaving the ground) and get a tour of the hangar and look at other planes. Most of those kids had never been on a plane before – if was a different time – though by then I was already taking them for granted. It was simply what Dad did.

Though I’d need to work with the schedule of their various charters, any time I’ve gone to Prince George in the years since I moved away I almost always would deadhead on one of their flights (sometimes running mail, other times shipping forestry personnel and equipment, sometimes riding with mining workers being shuttled home for their off-cycles) Dad would be waiting on the tarmac right outside of the building – pretty much exactly where the collapsing sheet metal falls in the video.

We’d walk on through the hanger and into the office like we owned it (indeed, Dad was a minority owner for a number of years) where I’d have a coke or coffee while Dad tied up whatever work he was doing. We’d possibly run an armload of mail to the postal plant or stop and do a company deposit at the bank on the way home.

When Dad retired in February 2007 the company flew a plane load of family and Vancouver based co-workers to Prince George for the party. The trip home would be my last time in the building. NT Air had put the name of their longest serving employee on one of their planes. We went early and took pictures of the plane.

I was going to be there again this coming Wednesday. But now that’s not going to happen. Our flight up for Christmas was cancelled – understandably. We now have to bus. But we will be there to fly home on Monday.

I’ve seen pictures of the blacked pile of ice covered debris that is where the building once stood. I’m not looking forward to standing beside it. I’m not sure how I’m going to feel. I’ve been looking forward to going home for Christmas for the first time in years (and for the last time in Dad & Kay’s house – which has recently been sold), but I can’t help but feeling that it’s going to be a bit different.

But no matter how I feel, someone else is going to feel worse. It appears as though, despite initial indications, that someone was caught in the fire. It’s going to be hard to not think about that family.

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