Friday, August 13, 2010

I think I need a vacation – BAD!

Current mood:tired
Detroit 2010 08 09 004 

I’m off to Detroit again, and apparently I’m not alone, ‘cause almost every car rental company was sold out. I always use Avis but this time they had to get me a rental car with National – more on that later.

I’m continuing to enjoy my new found appreciation for dresses and wore a new one on this trip. It is kind of a business / office kind of dress and I think looks very professional - unlike the tramp wearing it! When I took a seat in the gate area of the airport, I discovered that there is a bad girl element to the dress you see. While standing, the slit on the side didn’t appear to rise too terribly high, but when I took a seat I discovered that it showed a bit more leg than I was really comfortable with.

Detroit 2010 08 09 010

On my drive to the airport I was listening to the news on the radio and I got a little worried when they started warning everyone that the traffic in Austin, and especially around the airport, was going to go all to hell today. It seems that President Obama was visiting Austin somewhere around noon! How cynical I must have become in my old age, because here the President of the United States of America was coming to our city and my only real concern was the hope that he not mess up my drive to the airport! Fortunately I was arriving at the airport at about 630AM and he wasn’t coming in until around noon, so my drive did not suffer at all. I did have to chuckle a bit when I went through the TSA security process though, because they were all looking sharp, clearly intending to be “inspection ready”.

I got checked in and made my way through the TSA check point, then I pulled all of my things off of the X-ray machine and made my way to a seat where I put my jewelry and shoes back on. When I had all of my things back together I started off for my gate and almost fell flat on my face. The strap on my shoe had broken and it had come half way off of my foot! Limping along on my tip toe, I made my way to a chair, where I took my shoe off and examined it. The strap was supposed to be held on by a button, and the thread holding the button in place had broken. Fortunately the button was still gripping the strap and so I had not lost it. Tucking the strap inside the shoe and under my foot, I made my way through the airport looking for a sewing repair kit, thinking I could probably repair the darn thing myself. Not one of the half a dozen shops in the airport carried a sewing kit, and so I spent the rest of the morning wearing one shoe with a mary jane strap and one shoe without. Talk about a fashion statement!
The good news though, is that the Chicago O’Hare airport has not only a shoe shine place, but a full fledged shoe repair shop! With a lot of grins from the two or three guys working there, they had my shoe repaired in less than 10 minutes and it only cost me $6! The inside of the shoe looks a bit rough now, but the outside still looks flawless. Feeling more than grateful, I gave him a $5 tip on top of that, and headed off for my connection.

When I landed in Detroit, I almost headed to the Avis shuttle bus out of habit, but caught myself as I exited the building. The National shuttle bus driver was real nice, grabbing my bags as I boarded, and then chatting with me as we made the drive to the lot.
“Are you a member of our program?” He asked me.
“Nope. I’ve gotta be honest, I normally use your competition – Avis.” I told him with a laugh.
“Well, once you have used us, you wont go back to them!”
“Confidence AND pride! I like that! And you know, I have to be honest that Avis has sort of pissed me off pretty bad a few times lately anyway!”
“Really?! What did they do that made you mad?” he asked, looking at me through the large mirror as he was driving.
“Well the worst was calling me three weeks after I returned a car in Wisconsin to tell me that I had scratched the hell out of the trunk and they were gonna charge me for it! THREE WEEKS it took them to try and blame it on me.” I told him, getting mad at the very memory of it.
“No WAY? You didn’t pay for it did you?” he asked.
“I told my company not to pay for it under any circumstances and that I’d be willing to go to court over it. It offended my principles that they were blaming me for something I didn’t do. As if I wouldn’t have the moral integrity to admit it if I had scratched a car in the snow and ice that was covering the roads at the time. Still, I think my company IS going to pay for it, just because it’s easier than fighting with them.”
“Well that’s just not right!” he said. “Be sure you walk around and inspect the car before you take it from now on.”
“Oh, no question about that!” I told him with a laugh.

Since I was not a member of their program, I had to go the counter for my rental agreement, and the lady there was just awesome. She made the same claim that I wouldn’t want to go back to Avis after I had used National. After a little bit of chatting and laughing, I had my rental agreement and was told to go to the luxury lot and pick out the car I wanted. Since Ford was going to be one of my customers on this trip, I made it a point to grab one of theirs.

I got my bags put away in the trunk, my GPS programmed for the hotel, and then grabbed my contract and drivers license so I’d have them available for the gate guard. At least that had been my plan, because I couldn’t find my damned drivers license! I went through my wallet and purse at least half a dozen times – not there. I dumped every thing out of my backpack twice – not there. I pulled my bags back out of the trunk to be sure I hadn’t dropped it there when I was loading them – no drivers license. I had just had it not five minutes ago when I was at the counter, so I returned there and asked the young lady behind the counter – nope, not there either! By now I’ve been bouncing around inside the car, walking around it, and walking to the counter and back for about 15 minutes, so two National employees walked up and asked if I needed help.
“Thanks, but I don’t think there’s much you can do! Being the brilliant person that I am, somehow I’ve managed to loose my drivers license between here (I pointed at the car) and there (I pointed at the office).”
“Well, let us know if we can help!” they told me, both laughing as they walked off.
Just as I was getting ready to really get upset and blow a gasket, I found it where it had slid down between the seat and center console, standing straight up on edge so that the edge was all you could see.

As I pointed out in the title of this post, I think I need a vacation or something, because I am always exhausted these days. I don’t mean just tired, I mean the kind of worn out where you sit in your car or your room for a couple of moments trying to convince yourself that you really don’t have any reason in the world to feel like crying. To add to the worn out feeling, I have this wonderful condition called Erythema Nodosum. Ironically enough, according to the many doctors I’ve seen through the years, its an almost exclusively female condition. Anyway, the end result is that I have these large and very painful bruises and bumps all over my rear, my thighs, and my calves. This is a particularly bad flare up and so I pretty much hurt every where from the waist down. It hurts when I walk, hurts when I stand, and hurts when I sit, so I pretty much can’t win.
Suffice it to say that by the time I got to my hotel room, I was really tired, hurt everywhere, and so I just called it a night.

The following day I worked until 730PM trying to get both of my customers back up and running. To be honest, part of my motivation was also the hope that I could just get both repairs done that day and catch an early flight home the next, but it wasn’t to be. After staying so late, we ran into a serious problem that was going to take me a couple of hours to address, and so we agreed to return to the issue in the morning. Once in my hotel room I started checking my emails and found one from Victoria, a local Tgirl that I had met once before. She’s a real sweetheart and we keep threatening to meet up again but never seem to get our schedules together. Anyway, she wrote that she might be able to meet me that night if I was free. I sat there feeling worn out, with my legs hurting and throbbing, empty stomach growling, and looking at my hands and clothes that were filthy from the days work. I wrote her back and told her not today, but that I’d be happy to meet with her tomorrow. She wrote back to say that she wasn’t going to get off of work until 11PM tomorrow, so it looks like we miss each other yet again.

The next day I returned to my customer to resolve the remaining issues. As I parked, I reached for my cell phone to call them and let them know that I was there. The only problem being that I couldn’t find my cell phone. Once again I dumped my backpack just as I had when I was looking for my drivers license the day before, but no cell phone. Eventually I gave up and just headed for the lobby where I used their phone to call my contact. The good news is that I was able to resolve the remaining issues in a few hours, and was then free for the rest of the afternoon.

Detroit 2010 08 10 004

Despite the dark bruises all over my legs, I decided to wear a relatively short skirt because it was just too darn hot for anything else. Once I got dressed, I had the usual dilemma – what to do?! I decided to continue looking for new hair, and even realized that the Detroit area would be a perfect place to find a wig shop I can build a relationship with. I’m there so often, it would make a perfect place to find a shop that I could return to over and over if I wanted to.

I searched the internet for “wigs near Detroit” and while it came up with a lot of hits, I didn’t find a single one that had a web page I could browse, so I headed for the car, setup my GPS and searched for “Wig”. It offered me quite a few options and so off I headed to the closest one where I found an Asian woman helping an elderly lady. While she was helping the older woman I browsed around but didn’t see anything comparable to my favorite hair. All of hers were by a manufacturer that I’d ever heard of, and frankly struck me as cheap, and sure as heck didn’t approach the quality of the one I had, so I thanked her and left. The next shop I visited had gone out of business and was closed up tight. The third shop I went clearly catered almost exclusively to African Americans because every piece she had was either very dark black or brown, or exotic (Orange, red, purple, etc). I decided to head to Ferndale because I’d been told several times that they have a large GLBT community there, and so I thought that maybe their wig stores would have a better selection, but it wasn’t to be. The first one I visited there still had the lights on and everything, but had the closed sign up despite it’s being just 445PM, and the next store I found had also gone out of business. Apparently owning a wig store in the Detroit area isn’t a real good idea . . .

I’d had enough disappointment for the day and decided I’d give up for now and just go have dinner, and so I made my way to Maria’s Italian restaurant. I had found this place a couple of years ago, because it’s right next door to the “SoHo” bar / club where I used to go for karaoke all of the time. The food is good and the owner and wait staff have always been really friendly with me, so I’ve made it a point to try and eat there when I can. When I entered, I was greeted by the one waitress working at the time. She is a pretty woman with mid length brown hair, and I’d guess that she is probably in her early thirties.
“Just one?” she asks me with a smile.
“Yup, just me – the lone ranger.” I replied.
“Hey, I remember you, you’re the karaoke . . . person.”  There was a ever so short pause between “Karaoke” and “Person” and I busted up laughing.
“Go on, you can say it! We both know you were gonna say “Karaoke Queen” before you decided it might not be the best way to phrase it, huh?!”  We both laughed as she seated me.
“Uh, no, not at all! I’d never say anything like that!” she said with a shit-eating-grin that made it clear that this was exactly what she had been thinking. A little later in the evening, I could hear her softly singing to the Dean Martin music playing on the intercom as she was cleaning things up at another table.
“I see that I’m not the only one here that likes to sing.” I told her with a wink when she brought me my check.
“Just when I’m alone or in the shower, but NEVER karaoke!” she laughed. As she took away the check and my credit card, the owner approached my table. He is very tall, well over six feet, and has very short hair, almost a military cut. He has taken the time to talk to me every single time I’ve been there.
“So I see that your back in town.” He says, and then continues after a short pause. “I’m a master of the obvious, aren’t I?”.
“That’s OK,” I told him with a laugh. “I always make it a point to eat here when I can.”
“I’m glad to hear that. So how was your dinner?” he asked.
“It was awesome, thank you. Of course, that’s why I make it a point to come here!” I replied.
“Well I guess that makes sense, so then once again I’ve stated the obvious !” he said with a laugh, and then he retreated as I filled out the credit card slip and handed it to the waitress. I had to walk right by him again where he was sitting at the wine bar on my way out the door, and he spoke as I went by.
“Hey! You do know it’s not karaoke night tonight right?!” he asked, picking on me by implying that I had chosen the wrong night to be there.
“Actually, according to their web page it IS karaoke night tonight, but it doesn’t really matter. I’ve got a flight to catch in the morning, and they don’t start the karaoke until too late for me to hang around. I don’t do late nights followed by early mornings much anymore!”
“Well, I hope you have a good night anyway and we hope to see you next time you are in town.” He told me with a smile.

When I was seated in my rental car, I checked my makeup and was shocked to see a fairly large spot on my chin was 100% clear of foundation. I have no idea what part of my dinner I had managed to get on my chin that cleaned foundation off, but there was a spot about the size of a dime that was glaringly obvious. Embarrassed, I wondered how much of the evening I had spent that way. Still, even though I have never had to use it until now, I always carry foundation and powder with me just in case, and so in short order I had it repaired. It was only 630PM and so I decided ‘what the heck, let’s hit up Macy’s and JC Penny’s and see if we can find a new pair of shoes.’ I checked out JC Penny but didn’t find anything I liked there, so I headed to Macy’s. As I was browsing through their shoe section, I noticed a young woman, probably still in her teens, wearing a scarf over her hair, neck, and shoulders. I assume this is a Middle Eastern or Muslim thing but wouldn’t claim to know enough their culture to be sure. She is cute, and despite the very conservative scarf over her hair and shoulders, she is wearing a colorful and cute dress with pants under it. I noticed her because of her bright outfit, and because she apparently worked in the shoe section. I’d have to admit that I was a little nervous to approach her for help because I wasn’t sure how someone of her culture might feel about someone like me. Still, I told myself I was being silly for making assumptions, and besides, it was her job, and so I did approach her with one pair that I liked.
“Can I help you?” she asked with a professional smile that I thought might be just a little on the cold side.
“Sure! Do you have these in nine and a half and tens? I’d bring both sizes if you have them, because it might save you trip.” I asked, handing her the shoe I had picked out. She punched a lot of keys on her PC and then responded.
“I have both. If you will wait here, I’ll go get them!” she told me. She seemed a little friendlier, and despite her clearly middle Eastern features and scarf, her English had absolutely no trace of an accent, making it pretty clear that she was probably born in the US just like I was. As she walked off, I was feeling guilty for having had my reservations about dealing with her, and I was kind of contemplating the less than flattering things that my earlier assumption implied about me, when another young girl spoke to me over her shoulder as she walked by me from behind. I was caught by surprise and deep in thought and didn’t catch what she said.
“I’m sorry, what did you say?” I asked her. She was almost a carbon copy of the young lady that was now in the warehouse looking for the shoes I wanted. She was also probably in her late teens, cute as a button, and wearing a long scarf over her long hair and shoulders.
“I’m going to scare her when she comes out. Let me know when she’s at the door!” she told me with a huge grin, and clearly not willing to even entertain the thought that I might not want to be an accomplice.
“Hmmm . . . I dunno . . . . “ I told her.
“She’s my friend – it will be funny!” she told me.
“Well I sure hope so! I’d hate to think you were gonna scare the heck outta a complete stranger!” I told her and we both laughed.
“Just put your thumb up or something to let me know when she’s coming out, OK?”
“OK, but she might be a while you know. I sent her after two pairs.” I replied, and then moved to a position at the counter where I thought I’d get more warning as she was approaching the door. So there we stood, me at the counter getting ready to warn her when her friend was going to exit the door, and her beside the door and waiting to jump out. We kept glancing at each other while we waited for her friend, and then without warning, she said something to me that absolutely floored me.
“You are SO cute!”
I think my jaw literally dropped and it was right then that her friend walked out of the warehouse carrying two boxes of shoes . . . using a completely different door. . . .
Of course this caught her friend and I completely by surprise, but still the one girl tried to scare the other by running the ten or so feet to the other door and yelling “Boo!” at her. We all had a good laugh at what had turned out to be a pathetic attempt at scaring someone. The bad news? The shoes looked good but were far too uncomfortable for someone that does as much walking as I do.
As I left the store, it was with a mixture of feelings. I was very pleased that a young lady had been so willing to speak with me, include me in her fun, and even to tell me that I was cute, but I also felt ashamed that I had made assumptions about her because of her attire and presumed culture. Those who live in glass houses really shouldn’t be throwing stones you know!

The following morning was my trip home, and once again my legs hurt and I felt emotionally and physically worn out, so I made the trip in boy mode. Oh – do you remember that I told you I had rented a car from national? Yeah, I tried to turn it in at the Enterprise lot, and I swear I’m not kidding.

Did I mention that I need a vacation?

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