This weeks trip was to Indianapolis, a place I once traveled to quite often but haven’t visited in a year or so. I had a little trouble trying to decide if I should go in male or female mode as these days it seems that I just can’t win. If I go in boy mode I end up feeling depressed every time I see a woman in a cute outfit. If I go female, I seem to often feel unattractive and unpassable these days. Ultimately I chose to go female in the hopes that I would enjoy it.
Going through airport security in Austin, the TSA inspector took my ID and ticket and smiled up at me.
“Well, we haven’t seen you in a while.” he said with a twinkle in his eyes.
“I guess that means I’m not doing my job then,” I replied with a shrug and a laugh.
I have sort of mixed feelings about the fact that many of the airline and TSA folks in Austin have become so familiar with me. It’s kind of an odd thought that given the thousands of people they deal with every day, day after day, week after week, these folks recognize me. I’m not sure if that’s good or bad, but it again makes it pretty clear that I haven’t been fooling anyone. Let’s face it, if you deal with that many people, you don’t remember an average run-of-the-mill woman, but you DO remember a CD or TS.
The trip got off to a rough start when my American Airlines flight from Austin to DFW was delayed, then delayed again, and so I literally went right from the one plane to boarding the other. As we were getting off the plane from Austin, I was talking to the lady across the isle from me, about what our odds were of making or connections, as we both had flights that were already boarding.
“Well, we might just make it of we run like hell.” she said to me. Then she looked at my skirt and heels. “Well, I’ll be running anyway – I kind of doubt you will!” she said with a grin.
I did just barely make the connection, and so it was no great surprise to me when I discovered in Indianapolis that my baggage had not. This is one of those “been there and done that” things for me and so I didn’t get particularly upset or worked up about it, I just went to the baggage office and filled out all of the forms. The American Airlines CSA behind the counter was perfectly professional and even friendly, but kept calling me “Sir”. I’ve “been there done that” too, and so didn’t let it offend me. How can I really get upset about that sort of thing when I AM male after all? I honestly don’t think a lot of people know what the proper term of address is when speaking to a TG, and so as long as they are polite I will accept either without getting irritated. I have dealt with people before that called me “sir” with the clear and obvious intent of jabbing me, and that does get under my skin, but this woman seemed to be honestly friendly and I doubted that this was the case. I considered suggesting to her that it would be polite to refer to a MTF TG as female, but frankly didn’t want to risk irritating the person responsible for locating my missing baggage and getting it to me. That’s kind of like sending a steak back to the chef over and over – you are running the risk of having something nasty returned to you.
Soon I’m off looking for my rental car and discover that the Indianapolis airport has changed a LOT since the last time I was here. Either it’s a whole new airport, or at least a new terminal, and so I have no idea how to find my way around what was once a very familiar place. Of course an airport is an airport, and I have lots of experience with them, and so I found the rental car lot in short order, and am on my way to my hotel. I’ve stayed at the same Holiday Inn Express in Indy for years. It’s not in one of the nicer parts of town, but the staff there are simply wonderful. Over a year ago I made friends with two of the young ladies behind the counter, and had become very fond of greeting friendly people when I arrived tired from traveling. It was nice to walk in the door and have an adorable young woman greet you with a sincere smile “Hey Kim, welcome back!” I was looking forward to seeing them and so was surprised when I got out my itinerary and discovered that the lady that makes my travel arrangements had booked me in another hotel. I briefly considered ignoring that reservation and just going to my usual hotel, but with the economy the way it is, and so many people at my company loosing their jobs, I decide it’s not worth the risk, and so continue on to the hotel she had reserved for me. When I entered, the young lady behind the counter was a bit surprised, but not shocked. I’ve seen the whole gambit of reactions when checking in to hotels – huge grins, surprised looks, frowns, confusion, and very rarely even thinly veiled disapproval. This young lady was somewhere in the middle of that – not a single smile, but no real hostility either. I explained to her that my baggage was lost by the airline, was to arrive in Indy at around 7PM, and should be delivered shortly after that, and she assured me it would be no problem and that she would call me when it arrived. I was here to do an install of new equipment and probably wouldn’t need the tools unless something went wrong, but not having any males clothes was definitely going to be a problem!
I figured I’d head out to dinner at English Ivy to kill the time while I waited for my bags to be delivered. Nothing really remarkable happened, though I’d once again repeat my endorsement for English Ivy. The food and service are outstanding there, and it’s a very open and accepting environment. If you ever visit Indy, I strongly recommend the place.
By the time I got back to the hotel, it was around 9PM, and even though I’d been told they would be there by 8, there was still no sign of my bags.
At 10PM I decided I couldn’t afford to risk not having male clothes for tomorrows work day, and so headed out looking for a Walmart or Target, and succeeded in finding a Walmart that was open 24 hours a day. You know I’ve shopped in plenty of stores like this as Kim, but only in the day time when things were crowded. I really don’t recommend shopping in one so late at night with so few people there, as you tend to stand out and draw a good deal more attention. Entering the men’s department I rounded an isle and almost collided with a young man in his early 20’s or late teens. The shocked look on his face made it pretty clear that he had quickly figured out what I was, but at this point I’d been up and running for about 16 hours and no longer cared what anyone thought of me, so I moved past and kept shopping. First I looked for a cheap pair of tennis shoes, and while looking at my options I realized the young man had followed me and was standing less than 10 feet away from me. Shortly I moved on to find socks, and again I see the young man has followed me, and is sneaking looks at me. Next I moved on to find underwear, this time paying attention to what this guy does, and am hardly surprised when he again follows me, and then continues to trail me as I move on to jeans. I have no idea why, maybe it was because I was tired and punchy, maybe it’s just my warped sense of humor, but suddenly I have this picture of the kid as Elmer Fudd.
“Shhh . . . be vewy vewy quiet, I’m hunting twannies!”
With this cute thought in my head, I proceed to the check out and back to the hotel. When I get there, I discover that the kid must have rattled me worse than I had thought, because the jeans are two inches shorter than my size, and the boxers are 2X and are so huge that they will not stay up on me.
Good news – my tool box has been delivered. Bad news – my clothes were not. I called the airline to make sure they knew that they had only delivered one of my two bags and the guy wanted to argue with me.
“I’m sorry sir, but our records show that the front desk signed for BOTH bags.” He tells me smugly. It’s almost 11PM, fully 4 hours after my bags had arrived at the airport, I still don’t have my things even though I’m only 10 miles from the airport, and I just spent $70 to buy an outfit. I’m not a happy camper, and I let him know this after the third time he tells me that both of my bags had been delivered.
“Look, I don’t give a shit what the front desk signed for, your guys screwed up and only left the one bag. You need to contact him, let him know he’s still got one of my bags, and get it delivered.” I told him, still reasonably calm, but definitely getting close to my limit. Over an hour later, my clothes are indeed found and delivered.
I’ve considered carrying a change of clothes with me as a carry on, but this happens so rarely I just don’t think it’s worth it. You have to understand that I am already fully loaded down with stuff when I travel and so carrying an entire set of clothing on with me is not as practical as you might think. I already travel with a rolling tool box, a huge suitcase because I’ve gotta carry enough clothes for two people, and a heavy laptop backpack filled with cables, chargers, notebooks, etc. I can’t take another bag with me, and there isn’t enough room in my backpack, so I guess this is the price I pay for traveling the way I do.
The following day I headed down to Indiana University where I was installing a Mass Spec and training their professor on it’s software and use. If you ever want to feel old, just go visit a university. All those young, fresh faced, bright eyed and bushy tailed students scurrying around like ants, can make you feel obsolete in a hurry. I couldn’t care less about the young men, but I tend to obsess about the young ladies, flawless in almost every way. Perfect figures, perfect hair, perfect skin, getting a perfect education before moving on to their perfect careers and lives. The install and training went fairly well but took us fairly late in to the evening, and so by the time I got back to Indy I was tired and in no mood for going anywhere.
My last full day in the Indy area, the training went well and was completed fairly early, and so I had most of the afternoon to play around. I started off by seeing “The Time Travelers Wife” at the theater. It was a small discount theater and one lady sold the tickets and also the concessions. She was genuinely friendly and pleasant, and soon I was sitting there slurping coke and stuffing M & M’s in my mouth. The movie was really quite good, though more than a little depressing. They spend very little, if any, time dwelling on the science or “wow” factor of the time traveling, and instead focus on the personal and relationship consequences that would arise if you were forced to travel through time over and over, with no means of controlling when you leave, or where you go. It was a good movie and I do recommend seeing it, but don’t get it if your hoping for a Science Fiction. Next I headed out to go shopping, and started off at a shiny new Goodwill where I found a adorable little light purple skirt and a top that matched it. Both had the department store tags still on them, so I walked out with about $50 worth of new clothes for only $9. As I was browsing through the skirts, a woman was looking at the same rack, and noticed my long floaty skirt.
“That skirt is SO cute!” she said with a smile. “My mother likes those long fluffy skirts too. You didn’t see one like that in black did you?”
“I saw lots of black skirts, but nothing along these lines.” I replied. “Yeah, you either love these skirts or you hate them. It’s not much to look at when standing still, but it’s gorgeous when you walk!” I told her, while tugging mine out and waving it around a little to show her what I meant. As I was leaving the store, I walked past a short woman in her mid 50’s or maybe early 60’s and the look on her face was priceless – straight out of a comedy. She literally stared at me, with her eyebrows raised and a “What the hell?” look on her face the entire time I approached her, turning to continue staring at me as I walked by her. I just smiled and kept going, and as I approached my car I saw her and her husband walking to their car, and both were staring at me. I’m guessing I gave them something to talk about for a day or two.
I noticed a Burlington Coat Factory across the street and headed over there to shop a little. They often have nice things for low prices, and I actually want to find a somewhat lighter female coat than the one I have. I have a great wool coat, very cute, and very classy, but it’s also very heavy, and when your carrying the luggage, the weight does get to be a problem. I failed to find a coat that I liked that was any lighter than the one I have, but as I was shopping, the same woman from the Goodwill walked up to me waving a floaty black skirt back and forth.
“Hey, a found one!” she tells me, clearly delighted with her treasure.
“Awesome – good for you!” I replied. We chatted about nothing for a minute or two and then went our own ways. I found a real cute pink top with a complex pattern and carried it around for a bit before deciding it was a little too “busy” and put it back on the rack. From a row or two over, I hear my new shopping friend.
“You’ll be sorry!” she says, with a laugh in her voice.
“Yeah, probably,” I answered with a laugh “But it’s too busy I think.” I see her glance at my skirt, which is more than a little complex, and we both start to laugh.
“Oh no, I like busy skirts, but not so much when it comes to tops!” I explained.
Finally I made my way to the Castleton Square Mall and entered Macy’s – one of my favorite department stores. I raided the shoes, but found nothing I couldn’t live with out, and so browsed through the mall for a little while. Eventually it was time to head for English Ivy where I was to meet my friend Gina for dinner. We had a pleasant dinner and caught up on what had been happening in each others lives for the past year, I guess I’ve known Gina for three of four years now, but it just doesn’t seem that long. After dinner we went to the Metro where Gina had agreed to meet with Ashley, another Tgirl that was visiting Indy. We sat around talking for a bit, but once the music started it was pretty hard to hear each other. Ashley it seems, also travels quite a lot, and so we compared notes on the places we had both been.
Thursday morning I knew I was in trouble when I got an automated call from American Airlines as I was still driving to the airport. Seems my flight home has been delayed a couple of hours due to bad weather in DFW. All checked in and sitting at my gate for a flight that wont leave for another 4 hours when I hear an announcement two gates down stating that their flight to DFW has a few open seats, and if anyone traveling there would care to go early, they may be able to take you. Now instead of leaving two hours after I was supposed to, I am leaving over an hour early. Alas, the joke is on me though, because I wrote this while on that very flight, and the DFW airport has been closed. My early flight to DFW has just been rerouted to San Antonio. That’s all right though, because even if my wife has to drive a couple of hours to come pick me up, I know that I will have no trouble getting to Austin. My luggage on the other hand . . .