From now on, maybe I should just stop telling you where I’m going, and we’ll just assume it’s Detroit unless I say otherwise! This trip came down with no advance warning at all – I literally found out I had to be on a plane at about 3:30 PM the night before. Something about a major customer, who owns a lot of our systems, with multiple problems, and one of the vice presidents of my company being involved. Let’s just say I was on a plane the next morning. On such short notice the only flights they could get me left at 6AM and were VERY expensive. I live almost an hour from the airport, have the policy of getting there 1.5 to 2 hours before my flights, and it takes me two hours to get made up. If you did the math, that means that my unhappy ass was outta bed at 2AM. Uggg. . .
It’s funny – these days I’m getting up even earlier than I did most of the time when I was in the Army. I suppose I could have got one more hour of sleep and just flown as a guy, but lets face it, getting up at 2AM or 3AM doesn’t really make much difference. Either way, it’s way too early in the morning for getting out of bed, and your gonna be miserable. Be miserable and bored spending the day drab, or get up an hour earlier and enjoy the trip a bit more.
So this time I’m wearing a long teal/green skirt I have recently found. It’s very 1980’s in style, though you can’t really tell it with my top covering the empire waist. I’d have to be honest that I really don’t think it’s terribly flattering, but I didn’t dislike it enough to look for something else. Maybe I should have though. It has two snaps on it, one above the other, and the top snap kept going “pop!” and coming loose. I suppose that’s what I get for stuffing my size 10 rear end into a size 8 skirt. Oh well, live and learn I guess . . .
Trying to save my company a little money, I chose the happy medium parking lot at the airport – the “Close in” lot. It’s close enough that you can just walk to the terminal and so the airport does not run a shuttle through it. I prefer this lot, because for the small price of a short walk, I avoid the hassle of hefting my heavy bags in and out of a shuttle bus. I noticed as I was parking my truck that there was an airport pickup truck driving through the parking lot and emptying the trash cans. As I parked and took my bags out of my truck, this service vehicle pulls up to me and the driver rolls down the window.
“Would you like a ride to the terminal ma’am?” he asks with a grin. I briefly imagine the scene of my hefting my bags in and out of the back of his truck, and then the awkward moment that would no doubt occur on the short drive when he realizes that I am TG. The thought makes me both smile and feel uncomfortable at the same time.
“I’ll walk, but thank you anyway!” I told him and headed off towing my bags behind me.
I checked in through the Delta counter and then made my way through the TSA security check point where the TSA guard looks up at me and grins.
“Mattie!” he exclaimed loudly “Where ya’ headed today?!”
“Detroit,” I told him with the best smile I could muster at 5AM.
“You sure fly a lot,” he says as he is shinning his little hand held black light at my ID. “And I see you have a new ID too.”
“Yeah, I guess I do travel a lot, but that’s what they pay me for!” then I pointed at the ID he has commented on. It has all of my legal male info on it, but has my Kimberly picture on it. “I like that ID a lot better than the older one.” This was of course referring to my male drivers license that I had used for about a year before getting this one. Then it struck me that he had said my name before I had handed him my ID. ‘Mattie??!!’ I thought to myself. Holly smokes – with the thousands of people that these guys deal with every day, this man has remembered my first name (Matt). In some ways, this actually made me a little uncomfortable. I’ve always taken a little comfort in the anonymity of dealing with strangers who will have no idea who the heck I am. Well, he may still be a stranger, but he DOES know my name. I suppose it makes no difference in the end, but still it’s interesting in its ramifications.
You know, I flew out of the Austin airport about once a week for over a year without attracting a lot of attention, but the last three or four flights, I’ve had small groups of TSA guards go out of their way to sneak a peak at me in the gate area. Please don’t bother to tell me that I’m paranoid and that it is all in my head. I’m in airports and on airplanes four to eight times a week for the last 8 years or so, so I think I’ve got a clue what’s normal and what’s not. Well, much as has happened on my last few flights from Austin, I was sitting in the gate area when a group of four TSA guards just happened to take a stroll around the relatively secluded area I had chosen to sit in. They weren’t quite as blatant as the group that had done the same thing on my last flight out of Austin, but still, you could see them sneaking furtive peaks at me as they all filed past. One of them looked a bit sheepish when I busted him and our eyes met, so I just gave him a grin and went on about setting up my laptop to kill the time while I waited for the flight to board.
Since we set up this trip with so little notice, we found that Avis was all sold out, so I had to rent a car from National. I have to hand it to them though, they stepped up to the plate and treated me every bit as well as Avis does. I had to deal with their bus driver, and the people behind the counter, and they’re all just fantastic. I also had to stay at a less expensive hotel, because with such expensive flights, the lady that sets up my travel decided we should go a little cheaper than usual when it came to the hotel. I would have to admit to a little trepidation when I checked into the hotel because most of the staff appeared to be a middle eastern decent. I know that many cultures in the Middle East are very particular about the distinctions between a man and woman, but they all gave me warm smiles and treated me very nicely. A little after 14 hours after my day started, I found myself standing in the elevator next to a gentleman with a head full of long and graying hair. As he got out on the second floor, he paused just outside of the elevator for a moment, and then looked back at me.
“You look beautiful.” He said softly, clearly very sincere, and not in the least bit teasing. I was so surprised that it took me a moment to respond, and so he had already started to turn away when answered him.
Here I felt tired, exhausted, old, and ugly when he says something so kind to me. Do you think he knows that he made my entire day?