You know, it’s gotten so that there is almost no point to blogging about my trips anymore. It seems that every place I go, people are so used to seeing me that nothing terribly amusing or interesting seems to happen anymore!
I had the usual start to my travel day, where I get my daughter off to school and then get myself ready. It had been kind of wet and drizzling in the Austin area for several days and this Tuesday morning was no different. Still, it was just kind of misting and not really raining, and so as has become my habit, I looked for a place that might make a nice back ground for some pics. The little stream I found is probably dry as a bone most of the year, but due to all of the recent rain, it was a little raging torrent. Even with the unusual amount of water in it, to see it in person was still not terribly impressive, but I’ve learned that scenes like it can often still make fairly nice pics. So 40 degrees out, a drizzling mist, and there’s a stupid person standing outside taking pictures of herself.
I’ve probably explained this before, but I’m bored so I’ll do it again. Somewhere around 5 years ago I was getting bummed out and depressed, and would often pull out the only two or three pics that existed of me at the time so that I could remind myself of what I can be. I would look at them and think to myself “See, you weren’t always ugly – you have been pretty before and probably will again.” I was looking at these old pics and thinking that at the time I hadn’t thought I was terribly attractive, but now I wished I had taken more pictures for the memories. It would have been nice to have more pictures from a time before the wrinkles found me, before the dark circles appeared under my eyes – before I had gotten old. It occurred to me that someday when I was 20 or 30 years older, I might well look back on today and think the same things – “Why the hell didn’t you take a few more pics before it was too late?” Well, I trotted out and bought a digital camera and started snapping pics each time I went out. In the two or three years that followed, I went from having four pictures to a couple of thousand! I guess I had made a habit or hobby out of it, and as with most things I do, I took it to the extreme. Now I find myself embarrassed when I see how many pics I have collected. It screams “Ego out of control here!” and yet that really is not the case. It’s more the rather pathetic effort of someone who see’s youth slipping away at an alarming rate trying to grab and grasp at it, desperately trying to salvage what little is left. Kind of sad huh?
I was walking from the Airport parking garage to the check in area, wearing my backpack and pulling my suitcase in one hand and my tool box with the other, when suddenly I hear this horrible squealing sound and my 50 Lb tool box suddenly feels like an anchor. ‘No problem’ I think to myself ‘the wheel has just been jammed by a rock.” I stopped and pushed the tool box backwards to dislodge what ever it is, and then continue on my walk. That is, I continued for about 20 feet until the squealing sound returns, this time with a much deeper tone, and my box feels like it’s been nailed to the ground. This time I stop to inspect it and discover there is nothing jamming the wheel – the bearings are shot! One more time I manage to get the wheel turning, but again it only lasts for 20 or 30 feet before freezing up again, so I pretty much dragged it the remaining way to the airlines counter, leaving a dark streak behind me where the little wheel is being ground flat.
So as I checked in with US Airways, I received an ambivalent reception from the lady behind the counter. She is an attractive woman, I think of middle east decent, and she looked at me with out a smile or a frown – pretty much no emotion at all.
“Well, we haven’t seen you here for a while. Not flying as often?” she says
“Oh I’m flying quite a bit, but they put me on what ever airline is cheapest so I’ve had to fly with your competition. Good news though – today YOU must have been the best deal!” I replied with a smile to show her I was sort of teasing. She still didn’t smile, and in fact didn’t smile the entire time I was there. It’s a shame – she is probably stunning when she smiles.
In Detroit I got my bags and found that the wheel on my tool box would roll for a few feet, freeze up solid for a few feet, roll for a few feet. . . . Considering the thumping sound it made due to the flat spot it had now worn in the wheel, this made my moving tool box the loudest thing in the Detroit airport and every where I went I had people turning to look at me with a “What the hell is that awful racket?!” look on their faces.
Thump . . . thump . . . thump . . . . SQUEAL SSS QQQ UUU EE AL . . . thump. . . thump - All the way to the rental car shuttle stop. Standing there waiting for the shuttle, I was hot from embarrassment and the effort of dragging my bags, and the cool air felt great. I glanced up to see a woman my own age also waiting, and she is staring at me.
“Aren’t you cold? Didn’t you bring a coat?” She asks me. I almost laughed outright thinking to myself ‘Why is everyone so concerned with my wearing a coat these days?’, but I realized that she wouldn’t get the joke.
“I think the cold feels great, at least for a little while.” I replied, then after thinking for a second I continued “Of course it depends on how little that while is!” We both laughed for a moment, and then continued to wait for the shuttle bus. Wait . . . and wait . . and wait. . .
About 10 minutes later, after I had cooled down from my walk, I looked at her and laughed.
“And that is long enough!” I told her and reached in to my bag for my coat as she laughed again.
As I was leaving the Avis lot with the car, the guard at the gate starts to give me the standard speech.
“And will you be needing a map . . . “ he starts to say, then thinks better of it and smiles. “Ah hell, you’re here all of the time, you know where you going by now don’t ya’?” he says with a laugh.
The next day was the typical work day for me and I wasn’t back to my hotel until around 4:30 PM. Good news! While I was fixing my customers instruments, I also managed to get a bit of oil for my tool box’s wheel and got it to roll again. Of course the wheel now has a huge flat spot on it, and the bearings are shot to hell, so it’s not gonna last long. It was damn cold to someone used to Austin weather as I drove to the hotel and the wind was just howling and shoving the car back and forth. I made up my mind pretty quick that I wasn’t going anywhere once I got in to my nice warm hotel room. I also decided that I was gonna fly home drab due to the cold and wind, but the more I thought about it, the smarter I thought it would be to go pretty. My boy coat is just a blue jean coat – NOT made for Detroit winters. My girl coat on the other hand, is a long, thick, and heavy affair that is often too heavy and warm for me to carry or wear. The way I saw it, that meant that if I really wanted to be warm, I ought to fly pretty, and so I did!
Dropping the car off at Avis, the bus driver came and grabbed my tool box for me and went way out of his way to chat with me as we sat on the bus waiting for others. I kind of like dealing with the Avis folks in Detroit. There is a minor tone of “picking on the crossdresser” there, but it’s playful and friendly, not mean. I would much rather have people deal with me by bullshitting that way rather than ignore me - Bull shitting is a lot more fun. Once the rental car shuttle dropped me off at the airport, I grabbed my bags and started off on the walk to the US Airways counter, with everyone again turning to watch me.
“Thump. . . thump . . thump . . . thump . . . thump. . thump . . . thump . . . thump” went the tool box, announcing my passage to all in the airport . . .