YVR resident is half way there 0
Jaeger Mah interviews David Solloway, Air China senior advisor for Canada, about Air China's recently revamped business class cabins while sitting in business class on an Air China Airbus A330 on Thursday. (STEPHANIE IP, 24 HOURS)
In August, Jaeger Mah was announced the winner of Vancouver International Airport's Live@YVR contest. His job? Live at the airport for 80 days while blogging and tweeting stories from around YVR.
While many call it crazy, 24 hours decided to spend 24 hours at the airport to see just what goes on and how Mah has spent the first half of his residency.
"I don't want it to end. After this, there's all sorts of realities I have to start facing," Mah said, adding he's grown accustomed to the swanky comfort of the luxurious Fairmont Hotel where he's taken up residence during the project. He'll also be paid $15,000 when his job is complete.
Airport staff were apprehensive at first and had no idea the project would garner worldwide attention.
"The greatest concern, obviously, is you take a risk with something like this 'cause we weren't actually selecting the finalist," said YVR spokeswoman Rebecca Catley. "We were lucky that it was Jaeger who won."
The 29-year-old Port Alberni man has since become a staple of the YVR family, demonstrated by the number of staff and travellers who smile in acknowledgement when they spot his Hawaiian shirt from across the terminal. Both airport and airline staff have contributed to his Hawaiian shirt collection - which now stands at 21. Some staff dote on him with motherly concern while others greet him like a college roommate.
"The hardest thing is going to be leaving all the friends. These are people I give high fives to everyday," Mah said.
Sure enough, every person we encountered on our 24-hour experiment had a smile, a hug and a story to offer.
The best stories, however, are love stories.
Since starting Aug. 17, Mah has played matchmaker to at least one couple, witnessed a reunion between long-lost Second World War lovers and officiated an airport wedding. But not everyone has love for Mah.
"I haven't had any flight attendants love me. Except for the older ones. They give you a little pinch on the bum," he said with a grin.
The day 24 hours visited, Mah also entertained a CNN camera crew while jetting between multiple assignments.
Dallas Dalziel, a childhood friend, was brought in as an extra camera operator to help with the day's events. He also happens to be Mah's first employer - he hired Mah for 50 cents a week to help build tree forts when the two were kids.
"Jaeger was destined for something like this," Dalziel said of the Live@YVR stint. "It was a perfect fit and everybody knew it."
While Mah has received unending support, he's also fielded his fair share of criticism since skyrocketing to international attention. Some have questioned whether Mah is simply the airport's puppet. However, he says he's received little pressure by airport authorities on what to cover and is given free reign when choosing stories.
When Live@YVR concludes in November, Mah will celebrate his 30th birthday with a trip to Hawaii. Upon his return, he'll return to focusing on his small video production company, Punchline Videos.
If job offers come up, however, he'll listen but said he won't work for a company he doesn't believe in.
"I made that decisions years ago. I don't want to be super rich. I just want to have balance."