Sunday, August 9, 2009

Peoria Illinois and Shreveport Louisiana

Well this last week was very busy but I have no pics to show for it. You see I left the battery to my camera sitting at home on the charger!
I have three children – my 20 year old son (who just signed the contract to join the Navy), my almost 6 year old daughter, and a new born son. I guess my oldest son sort of made me complacent and careless, because I swear I could walk up and have a conversation with him while wearing a dress and he still wouldn’t realize that I was a cross dresser. For most of his life he had seen odds and ends in my closet, and apparently had always assumed that they were his mothers. He didn’t even consider that I might be transgender until I failed to clear the internet history on our computer and he found a forum I frequent a lot. I guess I’d just sort of come to think that if children grew up around this sort of thing, they just sort of took it for granted. Well, maybe so with little boys, but not so with little girls, particularly very fashion conscious little girls. She has made several comments over the last year that make it plain she thinks I wear dresses, but I’ve never confirmed or denied it. I don’t want to complicate her life with this until she is much older, but on the other hand I refuse to lie to my pride and joy.
Well, apparently she has made up her mind that she is going to settle the matter once and for all, and she has recently been sneaking peaks into my luggage, and paying very close attention to what I pack. So there I am, I have the bedroom door closed though it doesn’t lock, and I’m packing for a week long trip. This is lots of work clothes (male clothes) and a pretty outfit for each night, when suddenly my bedroom door is pushed open and in walks little miss smarty pants. Normally you would hear this little critter pounding up the steps on the way to the bedroom, so the fact that she has made it to the door quietly tells me that it was intentional. She has snuck up to the door and entered it unannounced because that was exactly what her goal was. She walks up to me and looks at the odds and ends in my luggage, and then looks up at me.
"Daddy, how come your taking pretty shoes and bras?" she asks me matter of factually. I just looked at her, probably with a dear in the headlights look on my face. If I get upset or angry I will just make things worse. Do I just come out and confirm it now? Should I lie to her, and if so, what kind of plausible fib can I possibly come up with? Ultimately my brain just locked up. Having not got an answer from me, and six year olds not being known for their patience, she repeats her question.
"Daddy, how come your taking girls clothes with you?" Things like this had slid right by my oldest for almost 20 years, and here this little Einstein had figured me out before she was five.
"Sweet heart, there are some things that daddy might not want to tell you about. OK?" I told her kindly. While a bit unsatisfactory a response, there was no point at getting mad at her for being smart or asking an honest question AND it had the advantage of not confirming it with out lying to her. She reaches in to my suitcase and picks up a pretty knit top.
"That’s PRETTY daddy!" She looks at me, and with a very adult and serious look on her face she continues. "Well, you can’t wear it in public, but you can wear it at home Daddy!" Apparently satisfied that she knew what she wanted to know, she turned around and left the room. I sat there in shock for a moment and then headed down the stairs and shared the story with my wife. My daughter might be just fine with it, but my wife is less than amused.
My trip started off with a flight to Peoria Illinois. As usual, I got up early to get ready and out of the house before everyone else is awake and moving. With a newborn in the house though, I wasn’t too surprised to hear my wife come down the steps only 10 minutes after I did. After I was all ready I would normally take half a dozen pictures before heading for the airport, but there was no way in hell I was gonna do this with my wife sitting there watching me cater to my vanity. I decided I would just stop along the way and take a pic or two in the early morning sunrise. When I stopped, I discovered that I had forgotten the battery to my camera on its charger. Oops. . .
Got to Peoria just a little ahead of schedule and found that my rental car was not yet ready, so I had to wait for a few minutes at the counter. Soon, a gentleman in his early 60’s approaches and with a smile asks me to follow him to the pickup and drop off curb. As I stand there, he gets in to a SUV with another gentleman and off they drive to go get my car. Soon, they both return in the car, and both go out of their way to come talk to me. From the grins on their faces, it’s pretty clear why they are chatting with me.
I’ve felt a little like a bouncing ball on this trip. First I was excited to find that I was returning to Peoria where they had a cool karaoke bar called "Elbo Room" that I had enjoyed in the past. Next thing I know, I’m getting a call from one of our applications sales engineers that he intends to be there at the same time and on the same flight I’m on. All of my plans for flying dressed and having fun at the Elbo Room trashed! A few days later he lets me know that he can no longer make it after all, so all of my plans are on again! Then a day later I get a call from the sales manager for that region that HE is going to be there! Since he is driving, I can still fly pretty but will have to spend the rest of my visit there drab. Arrived, got cleaned up, and went to dinner with the sales manager. That night after he went his own way, I headed to Elbo Room drab for Karaoke . . . and I didn’t enjoy it at all. I could list a half dozen reasons why, but what would be the point? I just didn’t enjoy it and don’t know if I’ll go back. One good thing I will say though is that the bartender rocked. She made it a point to ask my name when I got there and she referred to me by name the rest of the evening making me feel at home. The next day was a very long workday and so I again had no chance to play. Oh well. . .
On Wednesday, I had to fly from Peoria to Shreveport Louisiana for my next service call, and so I decided to take a chance and fly pretty. I have flown dressed from a few airports, but mostly big ones that I assume may have better trained people, and less risk of my having a problem. Well, there wasn’t a single problem – everything went very well. The TSA guard at the inspection point looked at my ID for a LONG time – probably a minute or so, and then handed it back to me.
"Have a nice flight." He said with out a smile.
The flight attendant from Peoria to DFW didn’t appear to like me much either. When she spoke to me, she had a attitude making it clear that she didn’t like me. When she couldn’t hear me, she gave me a mean look and demanded "What? What?!" I had begun to think bad things about American Airlines flight attendants right up until my flight from DFW to Shreveport. This young lady treated me like gold, was very friendly and talkative, and was a pleasure to be around.
The next morning I had to make the road trip to my customer, and when I say road trip, I mean it. Once again I found myself off road, driving down miles of dirt roads, with trees towering over me. At least this time the drive was in the summer, and dry weather at that, so there was no ice and mud to contend with. After miles of driving through the forest, my GPS at last said "Approaching destination on the right". I looked to the right and saw nothing but a fairly nice farm house and a beat up old work shed off in the distance. Since I was here to work on a $50,000 piece of laboratory analytical equipment, I was fairly sure I had gone wrong somewhere and must be in the wrong place, so I stopped the car and called my customer. I didn’t have to pull the car off the road or anything, because I was way to hell and gone out in the sticks and didn’t have to worry about any other cars coming along.
"Hey, this is Matt. I’m afraid I’ve made a mistake and am at the wrong place!" I told him over the phone. He gave a short laugh.
"Are you in the little white car?" he asked me, still laughing. Clearly he could see me and I WAS at the right place.
"You have GOT to be kidding?" I replied, as I turned into the driveway.
"Nah, your at the right place. Go on and pull up to the work shed." He said, and so I did. As I pull up to the shed, I can see that it is homemade and with a hand poured concrete floor, and sitting outside in the heat and humidity, with a little cloud of mosquitoes hovering around it, was our very expensive instrument. I warned him repeatedly that there were components in the instrument that could not tolerate the introduction of humidity, and he just shrugged his shoulders.
"The house is the owners folks, they aren’t home, and I can’t get in. I’ve got no choice – repair it out here." He told me. I just looked at him for a minute, hoping his common sense was gonna kick in, but that was where he stopped talking.
"As long as we have the understanding that I am doing it only at your insistence and that I warned you this was the worst possible environment to expose the instrument to. We may ultimately cause serious and expensive damage by doing this. Are you SURE?" I told him.
"I got it." He said " Go ahead and tear into it!"
So there I was, outside on a hand poured concrete pad, in front of an old hand built work shed, in the middle of Louisiana, at the height of summer, slapping mosquitoes off of me while tearing into a $50,000 instrument that can’t tolerate having humidity inside it. Good times in Louisiana I’ve got to tell you, always a good time in Louisiana . . .

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