So today I stumbled onto a heart warming blog from a mother raising a transgendered daughter. I can't even really put my finger on exactly what it is about the blog that impresses me so much, but it impress me it has! The mother is just so level headed about it all and somehow manages to navigate the minefields with humor and love. She treats her daughter the way that all parents should treat their children - lets her run free when and where it is appropriate, and hooks her up and puts the brakes on her when it's called for. In other words, she is a good mother and if I could reach this lady I would give her a huge hug. :)
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Saturday, December 10, 2011
Well, my personal life, and the lives of my wife and children, have been pretty torn up the last few weeks. Over the last five years or so, the droughts in Texas have caused the ground to sink in some places, and rise in others, predictably wreaking havoc on man made structures. I recently had to demolish my swimming pool because of this, and just a couple of weeks ago we had to have the foundation repair folks in to work on our home. All of the walls and the windows were cracking as our home settled unevenly, until it reached the point where we had no choice but to spend the many thousands of dollars it took to have the foundation lifted and leveled. That was just the start of our pain though, as they told us that virtually every drainage pipe under our foundation had been cracked and broken by the leveling process, and so new holes will have to be dug into our floors and the plumbing under the concrete almost completely replaced. We don’t have anything close to the kind of money it would take to do this and so my wife and children have been living in a home with bare concrete floors, and with a two foot wide, three foot long, and four foot deep hole in the middle of the living room floor while we try and figure out what we are going to do. As you can imagine, we are not happy campers . . .
Yet again I found myself on the way to Albany New York to assist our new engineer in installing a lot of new systems in a semiconductor factory that they are building in the area. I have mixed feelings about working there as I really like hanging out with our new engineer, but the job itself requires more patience than I seem to have these days. For the trip out, I decided to wear a kind of retro dress that I have had for a while. The last time I wore it, my wife and daughter in law both kept telling me that I should not have worn a black belt and shoes, but should have gone with red instead. Well, I spent months looking for the perfect red belt and shoes, and this is what I came up with!
To be honest, I was a little disappointed in the photos, because I thought that the outfit looked awesome, but the photos are just kind of “ehhh”. The important thing is that I felt pretty though and so it was all good!
I got a surprise going through the Austin airport – it seems that they have now installed those full body scanners, and so it looks like my life just got a little more complicated.
As I exited the scanner, the female TSA agent was all business and with not a smile to be found.
“Please wait here!” she said with her arm and hand up in front of me in the classic “stop” pose. She spoke again after a moments pause.
“OK, I’m going to have to pat down your side, OK?” She asked while pointing to a monitor behind me. I glanced at it to see it had a flashing dot over the side of a cartoon type display of a human form. It took me a second to realize that it was apparently marking the area where the zipper of my dress was, and so at least I knew what had triggered the pat down.
Once she was done with me, another TSA agent picked up my back pack from the x-ray belt and held it up.
“Is this your bag ma’am?” he asked, all business.
“It is.” I replied
“I need to go through it and take some things out. Is that all right with you?”
“Sure – knock yourself out!”
“Do you have anything sharp in there that I might get poked with?”
‘What, is this an episode of “cops” or something?’ I thought to myself.
“Not that I know of.” I told him.
As good as his word, he started pulling everything out of the backpack one at a time, countless power supplies, USB cables, Ipod, my GPS, my camera, my laptop video camera, my Kindle, my external hard drive, my USB memory sticks, my . . . well, you get the point. Lots of gadgets made their way out of my bag and into a bin. At one point the man actually laughed as he continued to find and remove toys from my bag.
“That was the problem.” He told me with a smile. “Too many electronics and cables piled on top of each other – it makes it hard to inspect them with the X-ray.”
“No worries. Y’all are trying to get me there alive and I kind of like the idea.” I told him with a grin.
As usual, after going through security, I had to take a few moments gathering my things and putting my shoes and sparklies back on. While I sat on a bench doing this, a woman walked by with her husband and grinned at me.
“I LOVE your shoes!” She told me over her shoulder.
“Well thank you!” I replied with a grin.
Going through the airport I saw countless grins pointing my way, a sure sign that people are reading me and amused by it. I just kind of decided to enter my “Well, since we aint getting away with it, we may as well have fun with it” mode, and so I started grinning back and winking from time to time.
As luck would have it, the woman that had commented on my shoes, and her husband, ended up in the seats right behind me so I wasn’t that surprised when she caught my eye and spoke again as I was stuffing my things in the overhead compartment.
“Wow, I really like those shoes!”
“Well thank you! I like them too. They are a bit higher than I wanted, but I looked and looked for the perfect red shoes and these were the first I found that I really liked.”
“I don’t care if they’re high or not, I love ‘em!” She replied.
So I had a bit of a layover in Atlanta and chose to spend some of it in the Delta Skyclub (more or less a country club in most major airports). Frankly I cant afford membership, but since they let you pay with miles, I’ve got the system beat! So I went to get a soda from the lady behind the counter, and the first thing that I noticed was that she has absolutely awesome eyes. I was doing my best to look at her pretty eyes without it being obvious that I was looking at her pretty eyes, while I ordered my coke.
“Can I help you?” she asked.
“Sure, I’d like a coke please!”
“Coming right up!” she said with a smile, and then she surprised me. “You look great!” she added out of the blue. Coming from a young woman that I thought was exceptionally pretty, I found this immensely flattering. The bad news is that it is sort of a back handed complement, because the unspoken words were “ . . . for a dude” Let’s face it, your average woman may well compliment your outfit, hair, or accessories, but I really don’t think she just states “You look great!” to a complete stranger. Still, I knew I wasn’t passing already and so I took the compliment and ran with it.
The woman that sat next to me on the flight from Atlanta to Albany was a very friendly sort and so we chatted, chatted, and chatted some more. Somewhere along the line I asked about her job and found that she was a manager for a company that makes medical devices, and I guess that keeps her on the road almost as much as I am. The thing that surprised me was that she was so young and so tiny, that I just had trouble imagining her in a position of management.
After she told me all about herself, she then asked about my job and why I was on the way to Albany.
“Well, I am going to install a lot of systems for my company in a brand new Semiconductor factory there.”
“OH! You mean Global Foundries?!” she asked, clearly aware of the new factory.
“Yep. You should see the place – absolutely full of muscle bound he-man types so you can just imagine how very well that I go over there!” I told her with a grin and while passing my hand down my body and outfit. I was most gratified when she laughed so hard that she almost spilled her drink.
Just about then the flight attendant walked by and looked directly into my eyes.
“Honey, that is a beautiful wedding ring!” She said and then continued walking down the isle before I could respond. The lady next to me picked up the ball and ran with it.
“You know she’s right, that is a heck of a ring!” she said with a grin.
“Awe hell, this thing?” I said while holding it up for her to get a better look. “I got it at JC Penny and it is at least as fake as I am.” At this point, she almost did spit her drink out.
So here I was, absolutely convinced that I flat out was not passing at all when I made my way to the Avis counter in Albany and handed over my drivers license to get my rental contract. I have a state ID with my female picture on it, but that doesn’t authorize me to drive or rent a car, and so this is one of the few places where I still have to hand over my male drivers license. The lady behind the counter looked at it for a moment and then handed it back.
“I’m sorry, but I will need to see him then.” She said, very politely and very professionally. I was so convinced that I wasn’t passing all day long that it took me a moment to realize what the problem was, and then I busted out laughing.
“Miss, that is me. Here, does this help?” I said handing over my state ID with my female photo on it. She just looked at it for a moment and then looked up at me with an impressed expression on her face.
“Wow, I had no idea at all and wouldn’t have known if you hadn’t said something!” she said while still comparing the two forms of ID.
“Well, for the record, you just made my entire day and I thank you from the bottom of my heart!” I told her.
The folks at the hotel didn’t bat an eye at me, but since they knew me from earlier stays, this didn’t surprise me much. I still got a bit of a giggle though as I made my way to the elevator to find a man inside holding the door for me. Considering that the elevators are pretty slow in this joint, I really did appreciate his waiting for me and so I thanked him.
“No worries, I thought I heard someone walking up!” he replied with a heavy Australian accent. I took a good look at him and realized that the man was built like Popeye – kind of short but with the biggest forearms I have ever seen in my life. He was clearly just coming from the gym, still sweating and with a towel on his shoulders.
“So I hope you worked out a little for me too? I’m going downhill when it comes to staying in shape these days ya know?!” I told him with a wink.
“Sure I did mate!” he said with an embarrassed smile of his own. I figure that was probably about the time that he figured out I wasn’t what I appeared to be.
Well, I spent most of the following week doing nothing but work. Just to brighten up my day, my wife sent me a text message saying “God must hate us – call me.” The quote was in from the plumber that the foundation people used – it would cost $11,000 to repair the damaged drainage plumbing under our foundation. A huge amount for the foundation folks to tunnel under our entire home, and a bit more for the plumber to actually replace pipes. Leveling the house had just cost us $8.000 and now they were telling us that repairing the plumbing damage caused by leveling the house was gonna be $11,000! All I can say is that we were in absolute shock. I had expected thousands based on what their plumber had told us, but I was thinking more in the area of three to four thousand. A quote of $11,000 just totally rocked our world, and was absolutely outside of our ability to pay for. We had taken out a 401K load to pay for the foundation repair, and flat out couldn’t come close to coming up with an additional $11,000! Needless to say I spent more than one night on the phone with my wife sobbing on the other end. In the end, we decided to seek a second opinion and sweated it out until it could be arranged.
At last the weekend rolled around and on Sunday I decided to go to the movies and to go shopping. First of all I hit up JC Penny, one of my favorite stores. This time instead of looking for outfits for myself, I was looking for a Christmas present for my wife. She had commented several times on a cheap costume jewelry bracelet that I have worn and so I was trying to find something like it, but of better quality. I might buy cheap jewelry for myself, but I’ve never bought my wife anything that I didn’t think was decent quality – of course that might be why my wife has so little jewelry. Anyway, I was at the counter looking at options while an older woman in front of me was completing her purchase. We chatted about this and that while she checked out.
“OK, and here is a $20 coupon on your next purchase of over $100 here at the JC Penny jewelry counter ma’am!” said the cheerful sales associate behind the counter as she handed the older woman her receipt and coupon. The woman held the coupon up, looked at it, and then laughed.
“You know, I am never going to use this, so you take it!” she said, turning around and handing it to me. I was flabbergasted!
“Are you sure?!” I asked her, and she just laughed.
“I hold on to these things all of the time and never, ever use them. You make good use out of it and make someone happy.” She said.
“Well thank you very much! I think I’ll do just that!”
My wife will now have a very pretty and expensive (by our standards) bracelet for Christmas.
Monday rolled around and started off a complete disaster. So there I am in the subfab (the basement area) where they keep all of the plumbing, pumps, and chemicals of the factory I am working at, when I hear a really odd sound – a very heavy rain. Remember, I’m in the basement of a huge state of the art semiconductor factory – it does NOT rain here. None the less, when I poked my head around the machine I was installing to look in the direction of the sound, I see a very heavy rain falling, and when I say heavy, I mean heavy. We are talking apocalyptic “Noah you better hurry up and finish that Ark” rain.
It looked like water, but you never know. In a factory like this they use at least a dozen chemicals in high quantities that will kill you, and so I didn’t hesitate – I grabbed my laptop and quickly headed out to find my colleague so that we could both get the heck outta there. I hadn’t taken more than a dozen steps away from the immense leak when the fire alarm AND the dangerous chemical alarms started screaming.
Well, the good news is that the chemical alarm was a false alarm resulting from a chemical safety device getting soaked. The bad news is that the alarm was generated by one of MY systems as it was getting bathed in several thousand gallons of water – something it most definitely is not designed to handle. At least three of my company’s systems were directly under the downpour. . .
I was supposed to meet Lisa Gayle Harris after work tonight, but it now started to look like I was going to be busy trying to dry out multiple systems, and so I sent her a brief email to let her know our evening was in peril. After lunch, we were able to get back into the factory and start cleaning things up. I was removing high voltage modules and pouring the water out of them, wiping things down, blowing them out, and just doing my best to clean things up. I had one rack in pieces and drying it out when water once again started to pour everywhere, to include into the open spaces of my rack where I had removed equipment. I kind of snapped and lost my temper at that point and told my colleague that we were done for the day – we can’t dry things out while water is still pouring from the pipes above. The good news that came out of all of this mess? I did get to meet up with Lisa after all.
So when it came time to meet up with Lisa, we sent a few messages back and forth trying to decide where to meet at. The sports bar in my hotel was actually a pretty neat place, but was often full of more than slightly inebriated sports fans, and I couldn’t help thinking that it might not be the best place to meet up. I did a search on the internet and found the Water Works Pub in downtown Albany. Lisa sounded less than thrilled about it, but for lack of a better idea we agreed to go ahead and meet there anyway
Just before arriving I drove past two police cars that were stopped and had three or four guys up against a wall, and so I started to wonder if maybe I should have given more weight to Lisa’s “that’s not a really good part of town” comment. Still, we arrived at about the same time and decided to stick it out. It was kind of funny with the two of us out in the parking lot trying to read the damned machine that was supposed to give is a parking receipt. Apparently you had to pay around the clock to park here, but the machines display didn’t have a light and so we couldn’t read the darn thing. There we were, both of us reaching for reading glasses and peering at this dark display trying to figure out how to use it when the instructions couldn’t be read. I still don’t know what it was that triggered it, but after we had been messing with it for a couple of minutes, it suddenly lit up so that we had no trouble at all reading it.
Having at long last paid for our parking we made our way into the place to find a reasonably cute female bartender, and four or five men sitting around the bar who all glanced our way. I saw a couple of them lean in towards each other, no doubt saying something along the lines of “Wow, did you see what just walked in?”, but we didn’t give it any thought as we made our way to a table. We chatted for probably a couple of hours I think, chatting of nothing heavy or Earth shattering, just talking about life, our families, and our jobs. Lisa has a daughter who is doing exceptionally well in school, and she is justifiably proud about this. She even showed me a photo, and I’m here to tell her that her daughter is one of the prettiest little critters you have ever seen. Not quite as pretty as my own daughter of course, but I digress. (just teasing Lisa!)
Lisa had to work early in the morning, and I had a disaster to try and recover from, and so we called it a night fairly early. When I mentioned that I wanted a photo for my blog. Lisa very bravely approached Chris, the bartender, to ask her to take the picture for us. I sat at the table and watched the entire bar listen in as Lisa asked her, and so I decided to go for the low hanging fruit and get a laugh.
“Yeah, you know – pictures. It’s kind of a drag queen thing!” I blurted out. Of course it then occurred to me that while I might think that it’s amusing to poke fun at myself, I might have just deeply offended poor Lisa. Too late though, I had blurted the joke out and was stuck with it. I was more than a little relieved when everyone started to laugh though.
As we made our way back to the parking lot, I joked with her.
“Well this was no fun at all! We didn’t even get mugged!”
“And thus disappoints you? Maybe I can arrange it?” she replied. I don’t think those were her exact words, but it was something along those lines.
And then it was back to the mess at work . . .
The day before I was to leave for home, we discovered little green drops of fluid all over our tool boxes and the floor between two of our systems. I started to clean it off of our equipment, and when the new guy I was working with saw what I was doing, he suggested that even though I was wearing gloves, I really should leave it alone until we knew what it was. I thought he was being kind of paranoid, but I decided that he was probably right, and so I threw the towels in a bag, and removed my gloves and did the same with them. It took hours to find out, but at first they told us it was just hydrogen peroxide. . .
A few hours later they told us that it had been Sulfuric Acid . . .
The next morning they told us it was a high concentration of hydrofluoric acid (HF) - oh goody. . .
I sure am glad that the new guy was paranoid about chemicals and convinced me to leave it alone and to throw away my gloves . . .
Between the broken water lines and leaking acid, I really couldn’t be happier to be leaving this place and heading for home.
I did get a little ray of sunshine though! My wife got a second opinion on our plumbing issue and the new guy tells us that the first guy was an idiot or a thief. He did all of the same pressure tests and everything passed EXCEPT the bathroom sink. After putting a camera down the pipe, he is reasonably confident that the only break is right at our bathroom sink. So, the bathroom floor has to be destroyed and the plumbing replaced, but more than likely no other tunneling will be required. He won’t know for sure until the broken pipe is replaced, but it is likely that we just went from an $11,000 quote to a $3,000 quote. It still hurts, but hurts a LOT less. We find out Monday so keep your fingers crossed for us would ya?
At long last it was time to head for home. Two weeks doesn’t seem like that long, but with your foundation torn up, your family living on bare concrete, the house covered in concrete dust, and a home with no Christmas tree as Christmas quickly approaches, it seemed like forever to me!
When I checked in with the airline at the Albany airport, the lady behind the counter was a real trooper and didn’t really bat an eye at me. Still, she kind of balked when she discovered that my bag was a bit over weight. (What do you expect with a cross dresser on the road for two weeks?!)
She took one look at the scale and then looked at the customer service representative next to her.
“His bag is over weight.” She said to him with a ‘what do I do?’ tone of voice and attitude.
“His” bag she had said – so apparently we aint passing today either . . .
“That’s OK,” he said. “She’s a platinum elite and she’s allowed up to 75 pounds.”
“Yeah, they let you get away with all sorts of things when you fly as often as I do!” I told her with a laugh as I batted my eyes at her.
I had the usual shoe conversation when going through the TSA check point when the female TSA agent at the entrance to the X-ray machine and body scanner saw me.
“Oh my God! I LOVE your shoes!” She blurted out. I glanced up at her and gave her a wink.
“Me too, but they are just a bit higher than I really would have preferred.” I told her while holding my fingers about an inch apart.
“Nah, I just bought a pair the other day and cant wait to wear them out.” She replied, while holding her fingers about four inches apart to show that she was talking about some seriously high heels.
“Well, I DO love them, but you wanna bet that by the time my trip is over today I’ll regret having worn them?”
I had almost the exact same conversation with the lady behind the counter at the Detroit Delta Skyclub.
“Those shoes are SO cute!” she told me as I handed her my card.
“Thank you! I guess that they aren’t exactly practical for airports though.” I told her with a smile.
“Well that’s OK since you have plenty of time and wont have to run for your next gate!”
So now for a deep and philosophical ending to this little fluff of a blog. My over all impression about this trip is that I “passed” very rarely, so now the question becomes ‘does it, or should it, matter to me?’ For the most part I don’t really think so. It would be grand if I were young and flawless, and everyone who saw me only perceived a woman. Clearly that goal is not within my grasp and so I have a choice to make. Either I can accept that most people know what I am and yet still treat me well, or I can go insane worrying about whether I am or am not passing. Since I’m pretty much having a good time, I figure to let it go and just be happy with being treated reasonably well regardless of whether they know what I am or am not.
Friday, November 18, 2011
To the best of my admittedly poor memory, this was only second time I’ve ever had a service call that lasted two weeks. I packed plenty of stuff, hoping against hope that I would end up with plenty of time to play, but no such luck. In all honesty, I really did have plenty of opportunity but I was just too damned worn out and tired.
This service call was a lesson in patience – a throw back to my old Army days of “Hurry up and wait”. They are building a new semiconductor factory in Malta NY (near Albany) and the factory has purchased several million dollars in relatively complex systems from my company. The thing is, there are three players involved here – my company who makes widget A, another company that makes widget B that our widget gets installed on, and then the new factory that bought widgets A and B. The problem is that in order for me to set up, test, and certify my widget, I need the help and cooperation of Company B, who is of course also busy trying to get their equipment set up and certified and doesn’t necessarily consider my needs to be their priority. To further complicate things, the factory was largely unable to provide me with the assorted gasses and liquids that my tool requires in order to operate. Suffice it to say that for me, the hardest part of the last two weeks has been to remain calm and to not come unglued while others wasted my time.
Saturday I just spent unwinding and literally did nothing but surf the internet, watch TV, and sleep. With all of that rest, I have to wonder why I still felt tired when Sunday rolled around?! Feeling tired or not, I wasn’t about to spend another entire day cooped up in my room, and so I decided it was time to go see a movie and maybe do some window shopping!
You know, it’s very rarely these days when I actually feel pretty, but this was one of those days. Sometimes I go through all of the effort just to look in the mirror and think that I look like hell. On the other hand, sometimes I just throw something together and end up thinking that I look great.
I went to the “Crossgates Mall” where I started off by walking through the same “Burlington Coat Factory” where I found a killer dress on my last visit to Albany . The good news is that I found one quite a bit like that one, but in black and white! The bad news is that it does not have it’s own lining and is a bit to see through for my comfort, so it will have to wait for another trip when I bring a slip with me to wear with it!
The movie I saw was “Immortals” and it was pretty fair. It was very much in the style of the “300”m which has both its good points and its bad ones, but over all I it was worth the seeing.
My next stop was into a shoe store, where a mother and her young daughter (maybe 10 years old?) momentarily blocked my way to the sales rack, but as I got closer, the mother looked up and asked her daughter to move over and allow me to walk by them. I couldn’t help but notice that the young girl kept staring at me as I was looking at the shoes on the sales rack, and so I gave her my best smile. She briefly returned the smile but continued to stare at me, so I’m guessing that she had a clue.
After I finished my window shopping through the mall, I headed back to the hotel where I got my last laugh for the day. As I walked by the front desk on my way to the elevator, the young man behind the counter looked up and smiled at me as he greeted me. The funny thing was that just before the elevator door closed, he jetted into the elevator, clearly flushed and out of breath. I had been about to press the button for the fifth floor when he startled me, and so I asked him what floor he wanted.
“The third floor please.” He said after a long pause that sort of gave me the impression he didn’t really have a floor he needed to go to at all. Then it struck me – there was no easy way for him to get from behind the counter and to the elevator in a hurry as he had done. He must have literally sprinted from the counter, through the offices behind it, into the hall, and then to the elevator, and he had done this in the same amount of time it had taken me just to walk there from the front door. Since I walk pretty fast myself, I figure he must have really busted his ass to get to the elevator in time to ride it with me.
“So how are you today?” I asked him with a grin as I was thinking of all of this.
“I’m well thank you, how are you?” he asked, face still red from his little run to the elevator.
“I just couldn’t be gooder!” I said with a laugh as we reached the third floor and he exited.
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
In the last four years or so, my eyesight has just plummeted downhill, and I do mean fast! Welcome to the wonderful world of hitting your mid forties! (Getting old SUCKS!)
So today I went to the optometrist for an eye exam and to be fitted for contacts for the very first time in my life. After a whole shit-load of exams and tests, they came up with a prescription and and a young woman trotted me over to a room to teach me how to install and remove contacts properly. Talk about weird - but I guess that's another story. Anyway, I got them in with very little fuss and she seemed deeply impressed.
"Wow - most newbies to contacts have a lot more trouble when it comes to touching their eyes - you didn't seem to have much trouble at all!" She said.
"OK, now it's time to take them out!~" She said with a evil grin. THAT turned out to be quite a bit more difficult, but still I didn't have too much trouble with it, and again she commented on it.
"Most people have a lot more trouble at first, especially the men."
"The guys really have that much trouble with it huh?" I asked.
"They do! Sometimes I have to remind some of them that it's not nice to say the F word even if it is directed at the contacts and not at me!" she said.
"I wonder why that is? OH - I KNOW!" I blurted out. "The women are used to touching their eyes, or at least they're used to things getting close to them because of putting on eye liner and mascara!"
"Yep, I think that's exactly why." She agreed.
I thought about it, but I didn't tell her why I was also reasonably comfortable with it.
Saturday, October 29, 2011
So I was back to Manassas VA again, but this time I had to give on the job training to yet another new guy. I’m not really all that good at training others, so I don’t know why they keep sticking me with the task and I really kind of wish that they would cut it out. Not only does it make me uncomfortable, but it makes it virtually impossible for me to get out and about “pretty”, or as pretty as a 47 year old wrinkled up old man can achieve these days anyway.
The job here went just about like my last install here – the customer brought us out before he was truly prepared, and so we sat around spinning our wheels for two days waiting for them to provide all of the gasses and liquids that our system requires to run. Then, when my customer really was ready, I got a call from my manager that apparently we were having a serious problem with some equipment we buy from another vendor for cooling one of our systems, and the very company that I was currently working at was mad as hell and screaming that they wanted someone from my company there this very moment so that they could yell at ‘em. So guess who got to go get screamed at and then had the pleasure of inspecting all of the systems they had purchased that used that chiller? Grrrrrr. . .
Well, as with most bad things, it did eventually come to an end, and I had the system I was there to install all setup and running, and also had the customer reasonably satisfied that we were doing our best to address the quality issue they had been yelling about.
If you have been reading my blog for a while, you may recall my telling you about a friend of mine who developed a serious drinking problem and ended up fired for his actions at the very same customer I was now working with. Well, it turns out that his home is only about three hours away and so I had arranged to go and see him Friday.
Considering all of the trouble that he has been in and out of in the last couple of years, I thought that he looked and sounded pretty good. He just completed either his second or third stay in rehab, but this one was mandated by the courts. I guess he got either one or two DWI’s and the judge made it real simple for him – you either complete this three month rehab visit or you go to prison for a couple of years. I suppose that might tend to motivate you . . .
When I arrived he and I shook hands and his wife gave me a warm hug. She and I have traded a lot of emails and phone calls while she has been going through this, and so in some ways I guess that I am actually closer to her than to him now. I offered to take ‘em out to dinner but was out voted in favor of a homemade dinner of pasta in a shrimp and cream sauce! Well, if you have to loose an argument, that’s certainly one of the better ones to loose, because I love pasta in cream sauce!
We spoke about at lot of things that night, with only one or two relatively light hearted comments about his alcoholism. Those comments led to him telling me a story about one of his friends that had a drug abuse problem in Thailand. It seems that this guy had such a serious drug problem that he wound up in the hospital for assorted organ failures. I guess that in Thailand, your family is pretty much responsible for taking care of you while you’re in the hospital – the hospital does not wait on you hand and foot as they do in the US. His girl friend had a job and so could not be there for him, but her brother was unemployed and could and would help. The catch being that he is a “lady boy” – a cross dresser or transsexual. When the guy woke up one day and took stock of where he ws in his life, he realized that his drub abuse had resulted in his being in a hospital, loosing an organ, and being taken care of by a “lady boy”, he decided that it really was time to quit. I was kind of bothered that the “lady boy” brother had stepped up to help and yet was still thought of with derision, but I’d have to admit that the thought of the whole thing did make me grin.
My friend doesn’t live too very far from the Hershey’s chocolate factory, and so he took me there for a little tour of the joint. It was all right, but I sure wouldn’t go too far out of your way to visit the place if I were you. Where once upon a time you used to actually see the candy being made, these days it is all an amusement park ride with only cheesy simulations of the real factory and production steps.
On the way back to Manassas from PA that afternoon, I drove past a rather large outlet mall, and predictably, my rental car veered into the parking lot all of it’s own accord. I looked through pretty much the entire outlet mall but it wasn’t until I hit the “Dress Barn” that I found anything that I both liked and could afford.
“Hello and welcome to the Dress Barn”, said a young woman standing just inside the door.
“Thank you.” I replied to her.
“Are you looking for someone or for something?” she asked after watching me for a moment.
“Well, I’m just kind of browsing, so I suppose that means I’m looking for something.” I responded, placing the emphasis in the same place that she had.
“Good! I’ve had just about enough of men who are looking for their lost wives, girl friends, or what ever!” she said, managing to sound both playful and irritated at the same time.
“Oh, so that’s the excuse they all use then is it?” I asked her with a laugh, poking fun at these men that I had never met.
“Pretty much! So can I help you find anything? Are you looking for anything in particular?”
“I’m looking for anything that I can afford that will make me look fabulous!” I told her with a wink.
“Well, if your looking for bargains, we have the 40% off rack here, and the 60% off rack in the back. If your looking for dresses, there are some back there but not much in the way of sizes.” She told me with a smile while pointing out the racks as she mentioned them.
“Awesome! Thank you very much!” I told her, and then cruised the 60% off rack but didn’t find anything there. The good news is that when I raided the 40% off rack I found a dark blue dress that I think I will look pretty good in, and it was only $27 on sale!
Saturday morning it was time to head for the Washington Dulles airport for my flight home, and I was a little worried about the drive to the airport, and about my flights, because my friend in PA had told me that they were expecting four to ten inches of snow! While I might not have too much trouble getting to the airport, snow anywhere on the continent can start a chain reaction that causes flight problems everywhere. Just to be sure that I didn’t end up stuck in Washington rush hour traffic during a snow storm, I got up at 3AM and headed for the airport at 5AM for my 8AM flight. The joke was on me though, because while there was plenty of rain, there was no snow, and virtually no traffic at all.
I found it kind of interesting going through the Dulles TSA check point right before the metal detectors that the TSA inspector was a small woman, wearing a head scarf, and with a distinctly Middle Eastern look to her. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like the idea of treating ALL people from the Middle East, nor all Muslims, as suspect because of the actions of a few, but still there was a part of me that was intrigued by this. In my opinion, the way that the US put its own Japanese descended people in camps during WWII was one of the most shameful things our nation has ever done, so it was nice to see that we apparently aren’t making that mistake again. Oh, and you know what? She was quite nice, wished me a good day, and gave me a genuine smile as she returned my tickets to me.
The lady I sat next to on the flight from Dulles to Atlanta was perfectly comfortable chatting with me. She and I both had Kindle’s and we were both busted by the flight attendant for keeping them on and reading during the take off, so we had a bit of a giggle together. Speaking of the flight attendant, we had an amusing moment when she was making her way through the first class cabin with a passenger manifest in her hand, asking each of the passengers by name what they would like to drink when we were up in the air.
All the way down the isle, she was “Mr this” and “Ms that” until she got to my seat where she took quite a long pause before she finally looked up from the roster.
“. . . and is it ‘Huddle’?” she asked me, not sure how to pronounce my name, and apparently unsure if it should be “Mr” or Ms”. This has happened to me before, but these days it is rarer and rarer when people that I am face to face with don’t realize that I am TG, and so it was kind of gratifying.
“Yes ma’am! You got it just right!” I replied with a grin and a wink, and I was delighted to see a huge smile appear on her face. From there on out, every time that she spoke to me, she gave me a terrific smile.
It’s funny how different people can treat me once they figure out what I am. Some don’t like it all and aren’t real subtle about letting you know it. Others are tickled to death, as if we are both now sharing a fun little secret. It’s usually one extreme or the other, but very few people react by simply treating me just like they would any other person.
As is usual these days with air travel, I hit a couple of snags trying to get from Atlanta back to Austin. First of all, it seemed that there was some sort of delay with the arrival of the plane that was supposed to take my happy ass home. I don’t know what the problem was, but it didn’t arrive until almost an hour after my flight was supposed to leave. That’s pretty much par for the course though, so I just rolled with it. Once the darn thing had landed though, we boarded it and just sat there for another hour or more because of some sort of technical problem. There were two or three guys up in the flight deck wearing bright yellow/green vests saying something along the lines of “Technical Team” on them, and the pilot was standing out in the passenger cabin with a forlorn look on his face with the rest of us. Sooner or later I had to make my way to the bathroom to get rid of all of the caffeine I had drank, and the male flight attendant took one look at me and grinned from ear to ear.
“LOVE the skirt!” he told me.
“Well thank you!” I replied, kind of in a hurry to get into the bathroom as it appeared that the technical guys were about done and the plane would soon be getting ready for taking off. When I came out of the bathroom though, he stopped me and pulled me over to another flight attendant.
“Doesn’t she look awesome?! See the way she matched the purple top with the lavender in the skirt?!” he said/asked the woman.
“Awe thanks! I’m one of the rare people that actually prefers it to be kind of cold out – it let’s me wear my long skirts!” I told him with a laugh.
“Well you look great girlfriend!” he replied with a huge and friendly smile.
Some days I feel like an imposter – a guy trying to force my way into the world of women, but sometimes I actually feel like maybe, just maybe, I belong there.
Strange aint it?!
Thursday, October 20, 2011
Once again I started a trip out afraid that I was gonna have nothing at all interesting to write about. The folks in the Austin airport are so used to me by now that it’s just business as usual and there are very few amusing or interesting events to write about that happen there anymore. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing though? On the one hand, I sort of miss the fun that I used to have by catching people by surprise on almost every trip, but on the other hand, it would seem that I have accomplished something that I am proud of – I’ve shown an entire airport full of people that cross dressers are people much like themselves and I’d like to think that I’ve helped to get them used to the idea of seeing and interacting with one. So, I guess it’s all good!
I keep asking the lady that sets up my travel to try not to put me on flights that leave before 9AM because it means that I will have to get up at 2:30 or 3 AM if my flight is at 6 or 7. It’s an hour drive to the airport and I stick to the airlines recommendation to be there two hours before a flight, and so that makes for a damned early morning. This time I almost paid a high price for getting up at 2:30AM for a 7 AM flight – I fell asleep twice while making the twenty minute drive from the Detroit airport to the hotel. Once was about mid way and without much traffic around me, but the second time was a close call. Of all places, I was on the off ramp of the exit to my hotel and apparently dozed off, waking just in time to avoid rear ending the traffic that was parked at the intersection ahead of me. Scary stuff there boy! Needless to say, my day was pretty much over at that point, and so I did nothing of interest that evening.
The next day was purely a work day, where pretty much all I did was my job, hit up a couple of department stores looking for good deals, and then had dinner at “Bob Evans”. For those of you not familiar with Bob Evans, it’s kind of like a Denny’s or a Cracker Barrel, but I think a step or two above them in quality. Anyway, I was sitting there eating my dinner and reading my book when an older couple entered. The man was stooped and using a walker and his wife slowly walked along side of him with her hand on his arm. You could tell that it was a gesture of love and not that she was helping to hold him up or anything. Y’all know me by now – I couldn’t help noticing that he was wearing a “US Air Force” cap and so I nodded as they walked by.
About mid way through my dinner the waitress came up and started asking me a lot of questions about my Kindle E-book reader. It seems that she was thinking about getting one for her daughter, and so we probably spoke about it for a good five or ten minutes, with my telling her the good and bad attributes of it. When I finished my dinner, she brought me my ticket and gave a laugh as she handed it to me.
“Well, today is your lucky day dear! I accidentally gave your bill to a couple that has already paid for it and left, so you only have to pay for their meal!”
I took a brief look at the $8 ticket that didn’t come anywhere near paying for the mushroom appetizers and the chicken and noodles I’d had, before I looked back up at her.
“I tell ya what – let’s spread the love huh? You see the older couple sitting two tables behind me? The gentleman with the walker?” She looked a little confused, but looked behind me and then nodded.
“I don’t want you to say anything to them, because I don’t want to make them uncomfortable, and frankly I don’t want to be uncomfortable either, but why don’t you go ahead and add their bill to mine?”
“OH! You know Harold?! I’ve known him for years!” she said with a smile, and her expression now clear of the confusion it had held a moment ago now that she understood that I must know Harold..
“No ma’am, I’ve never met him.” I told her with a wink, and then watched her expression falter again..
“But. . . then why are you picking up his bill?” she said with a surprised look once again on her face.
“Did you see the “US Air Force” hat that he’s wearing?” I asked her, and she nodded in the affirmative.
“Well, I figure that means that he either served or retired from the Air Force – either way I figure that he did his part for our country. I kind of figure that deserves at least a dinner, ya know?”
I kid you not, the waitress actually teared up. She didn’t cry, don’t get me wrong, but her eyes definitely got glassy.
“Well look at you!” she said softly. “You know, people just don’t do that kind thing anymore. Thank you.”
You know for the low low price of $25 I got to feel great for the next two days just thinking about it. Besides, I figure I need all of the good Karma I can get.
Fortunately my flight back home from Detroit to Austin was no where near as early as my flight out had been, and so I didn’t have to get up until about mid day (5:45AM) to start getting ready. This time I was wearing a black and white dress that is no great departure from my normal outfit. I figure that a little black and white dress is just about as flattering as a little black dress, so I have more than my fair share of ‘em.
As I dropped my car off at the Avis lot, the young man that checked it in was the same kid that literally backed away from me when he saw on my contract that I was a guy the last time I had been there. He wasn’t a whole lot more eager to get anywhere near me this time, but at least he didn’t have that panicked look. While I was getting my receipt from him, one of the bus drivers called out to me.
“Which airline ma’am?”
“US Airways” I told him, and before I knew it, there were TWO bus drivers reaching for my bags. They both stopped, looked at each other, and then looked back at me.
“I’m sorry, which airline?” he asked again.
“US Airways please.”
“See, I told you she was on my bus!” He told the other driver with a laugh, and then grabbed my bag out of the other mans hand and headed off with it. The driver that had just surrendered my bag to the other looked at me and laughed.
“Just follow your bags ma’am, just follow your bags! I wouldn’t let him out of sight with them if I were you!”
“Thanks – I think I’ll do just that!” I replied with a laugh of my own.
The man behind the counter at the US Airways ticket counter surprised me a little bit. I've always found most US Airways folks to be just a little bit cool toward me, but not this time.
“Well hello and welcome back! I haven’t seen you here in a while!” He said with a huge smile.
“Oh I’ve been here, but probably flying your competition. They put me on what ever airline and flight is cheapest, so I’m Gold with you guys and platinum with Delta.”
“Yeah, I recall your being Gold from the last time I took care of you. OK, so let’s see – they have you set for a long day don’t they?!” he said as he pulled up my itinerary and looked at it. “Wow! They have you sitting in Charlotte for four hours! Let’s see if we can get something better for you, shall we?” he said with a genuine smile, and then he started punching a bunch of keys on his terminal. Every couple of moments he would “tsk tsk” or say “nope, not that one”, and eventually he looked up at me with regret in his eyes.
“You know, I’m sorry, but there really are no other options. All of the other flights are booked solid!”
“That’s all right, I appreciate your trying for me. Besides, I just remind myself that I am getting paid to sit in the nice comfortable airport!” I told him.
“I guess you have a point at that!” he laughed.
“Yeah, it could be a lot worse! I could be busting my butt off outside in the cold rain for a living."
“Oh no, we don’t want that!!” he quipped.
Going through Detroit’s TSA checkpoint always makes me a little nervous because they use those full body scanners. You know, those marvels of science and engineering that make it real clear to who ever is looking at the monitor that I am most definitely a guy? Before you get to that scanner though, you have to show your tickets and ID to a TSA inspector. The young man, maybe in his mid twenties, took my documents and looked at me.
“Hello . . . Matthew . . . “ he said loudly enough for everyone around us to hear. I didn’t know if he was just thoughtless, or if he was trying to be rude, so I gave him the benefit of the doubt.
“Good morning!” I told him with a smile. He kept looking at my documents and said something I couldn’t hear, so I asked him to repeat it.
“For fun?” he said again.
“I’m sorry?” I asked him. I was pretty sure that I heard him this time, but I had absolutely no idea what he meant.
“Are you doing this just for fun?” he clarified. Ah! Now I get it! He wanted to know if I was cross dressing for fun.
“Well, it’s not quite that simple, but I guess you could say that.” I told him, and still he kept looking at my documents.
“Let’s just say that I’m not running or hiding from anyone if that’s what you mean!” I told him with a laugh that he didn't return. At last he glanced up at me again, stamped my ticket, and passed me through.
Oh – the body scanner? Yeah, they made me wait and then frisked my chest again. You know, patting down my chest when I go through those things is so popular that I’m thinking about either putting a mouse trap in my bra or charging admission. . .
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Well my customer in Albany finally said that they were ready for me to come install some of the systems they bought from my company. This trip was supposed to take place over a month ago but my customer just kept pushing the date back over and over. The bad news is that they were wrong – they weren’t ready and so the entire trip was pretty much a waste. Oh well . . .
A couple of weeks ago I bought my first pair of Palazzo pants and gave them a whirl on this trip. Quite honestly, I loved the way they looked and felt! I think they looked really classy and I just felt like I was pretty in them, so it doesn’t get any gooder than that! I paired it up with a pretty purple top that I have had in my closet for two or three years. The funny thing is, I almost got rid of this top a month or so ago having despaired of ever finding the right skirt to go with it. I sure am glad that I kept it though, because I think that these two together make a perfect outfit.
Just before the flight started boarding, the customer service rep called a few people up to the counter to exchange their coach seats for upgraded seats in first class.
“So does this mean that I get to fly in style today?!” I asked her with a smile while handing her my ticket for exchange.
“No dear, you are already flying in style, but now you get to fly in comfort too!” She replied with a grin and a wink.
This was one of the few times I’ve had a flight attendant with Delta airlines that made it fairly clear that she didn’t care for me at all. She spoke to me as little as possible, only to ask me what I needed. She never once smiled at me and she never replied to me when I thanked her for odds and ends. I’ve received that kind of attitude on the more conservative US Airways before, but never on Delta. Bummer . . .
I had a couple of hours to kill in the Atlanta airport while I waited for my connecting flight, and so I went to the Delta Sky Club lounge where I grabbed a coke and a plate full of rabbit food (carrots and celery). I was sitting there crunching away on my snack and reading my book when a couple sat down next to me. I noticed the woman giving my outfit the once over and then she leaned my way.
“You know, your outfit is absolutely flawless and I love your shoes” she told me.
“Well thank you! I have kind of a thing for cute shoes!” I replied with a laugh.
“Oh, it’s not just the shoes, your whole outfit is terrific.” She assured me.
“Thank you. I was actually a little worried that maybe it was a bit too much.”
When I took my seat in the airplane from Atlanta to Albany, the man in the seat next to me was having an argument with the little air vent above his seat. It turned out that both or our air vents were broken – I couldn’t turn mine on and he couldn’t turn his off. He started to kind of fuss sarcastically at the flight attendant about it, clearly irritated that he was going to have the cool air blowing on him for the whole trip. Since I get pretty warm while wearing hip pads, nylons, makeup, and a wig, it seemed like a no brainer to offer to change seats with him.
“I’d be happy to change seats with you if you like?” I offered.
“You don’t mind the air?” he asked me with a doubtful look on his face.
“I don’t mind it at all – I’m actually hot and wouldn’t mind the cool air at all.” I replied.
He thought about it for a second and then got a playful look on his face.
“Yeah, but it’s my air!” he said with a laugh, making it clear that he was yanking my chain.
“And you are more than welcome to it too.” I laughed back.
“Yeah, let’s do it then!”
After checking in at the hotel, I stepped into the elevator to make my way up to the fifth floor where my room was, and a man jumped on just before the elevator door closed. Since he was going to the same floor I was, and the elevator was fairly slow, he decided to strike up a conversation.
“So what brings you here?” he asked pleasantly.
“Work. They’re putting in a new semiconductor factory just north of here and I’m installing some equipment that they purchased from my company.” I replied.
“Really? What company do you work for?” I always hesitate at this question, concerned about what might happen if he is in our industry and actually knows my company. Still, there’s no graceful and polite way past the question and so I told him.
“Neat! So semiconductors – that sounds familiar – what is a semiconductor?”
“Computer chips and that sort of thing.” I told him. A major simplification but I doubted that he really wanted an entire class on the subject.
“Ah – now I get it. By the way, my name is Trevor. Yours?” he asked while sticking his hand out. (for the record, I can’t recall what his name really was)
“Kim,” I said, shaking his hand. “Very nice to meet you.”
“So how long are you going to be here Kim?”
“That’s a real good question!” I replied with a laugh. “It’s going to depend on how prepared my customer really is and on how well things go. Probably two or three weeks though. And you?”
“Oh, I’ll be here about a week.” He said, and then as the elevator door opened and we both headed out “I hope we get the chance to talk again Kim.”
Then it struck me - was he actually flirting with me?!
Well, as I said at the start of this little story, it turns out that my customer was not really ready for us. The bad part is, it was my companies fault. They had asked our factory if they had to plumb a drain line or not, and our factory got their wires crossed and told them that it was not needed. This is no small deal as we are talking about something like twenty systems that all need this drain line installed now. Not only that, but since it will be transporting a hazardous chemical, great care and thought has to go in to it – it is not something where you just go buy some PVC at Home Depot and run your own lines. From my perspective, the worst part about it is that the customer is pissed now, and he was quite free in taking it out on yours truly even though I had absolutely nothing to do with the foul up. I couldn’t bring our systems up and into operation without the missing drain lines, but I there were still a lot of odds and ends I could get done, and so I managed to stay pretty busy until Friday.
Friday morning started with my having to do some laundry if I wanted to have clean clothes to wear. The hotel had exactly one washer and one dryer, but since I was there pretty early in the morning, it was wide open. I did a bachelor load - chucking my dirty work clothes, socks, and the bra I had worn on the trip there all in the same load. Since the machine said it was going to take exactly thirty minutes for the load, I headed back to my room to write up my report for the weeks work. When I returned about thirty five minutes later, I found that someone had moved my things to the dryer, and had even put in the $1.50 that was required to start the machine. I put six quarters on the washing machine to replace the money they had put in my dryer and then I took a seat to read my book while I waited. About ten minutes later a woman about my own age entered the room and we started to chat. I apologized for being late to move my things from the washer and she apologized for moving them. It was right about then that I realized that this would have included my bra and couldn’t help wondering what she might be thinking about that now. Her name was Jan, and she works for FEMA, and so much like myself, she travels a great deal. We swapped stories for the twenty minutes or so that it took for my laundrey to dry.
There was nothing else that I could accomplish with my customer until they got their plumbing problem fixed, and the only reason I was still in the Albany area was because I had a simple service call planned for another customer in the region Monday morning. That means that I more or less had the day off, and so I got cleaned up and headed out to do a little shopping and maybe to see a movie.
The only movie playing when I arrived that I was at all interested in seeing, was the most recent Star Trek in Imax format. I’d already seen the movie, but thought that maybe the Imax version would be interesting so I gave it a go. After the movie, I browsed through the mall looking for bargains, and I actually found a couple.
This peach outfit wasn’t really a color I thought I would look awesome in, but I got a hell of a deal on it and so decided to buy it anyway. After getting it back to the hotel and trying in on, I’ve decided that it was a mistake as it really doesn’t flatter me. Anyone want it?
The green dress below I wasn’t real sure about either. I know the colors work well for me but I wasn’t entirely sure about the style. What do y’all think – should I keep it or get rid of it?
Saturday I decided to make a movie day. I cant afford to shop anymore, and have no more room in my baggage for anything I might buy anyway, so movies sounded like a good way to kill the day. First I watched “Killer Elite” and then “Abduction”. Both were pretty good movies, better than most I’ve seen recently, but not really anything I’d rant or rave about. I had to laugh as I entered the theater for “Abduction” – it stars Taylor Lautner, the guy who plays the werewolf in the “Twilight” movies, and the theater was full of girls and women, with only one man to be found in the room - assuming that you don’t count me that is . . .
Saturday I decided to make a movie day. I cant afford to shop anymore, and have no more room in my baggage for anything I might buy anyway, so movies sounded like a good way to kill the day. First I watched “Killer Elite” and then “Abduction”. Both were pretty good movies, better than most I’ve seen recently, but not really anything I’d rant or rave about. I had to laugh as I entered the theater for “Abduction” – it stars Taylor Lautner, the guy who plays the werewolf in the “Twilight” movies, and the theater was full of girls and women, with only one man to be found in the room - assuming that you don’t count me that is . . .
Friday, September 23, 2011
As usual, I was on the way to Detroit this week, but in an unusual turn of events, I had a direct flight from Austin to Detroit and it didn’t leave until after 2PM. As always, I considered going “pretty” but reached the conclusion that it would be almost insane. There was just no way in hell that I was gonna get up at 4AM and be out of the house by 6AM for a flight that wasn’t even gonna leave until 2PM. Even I am not that crazy!
Still, I packed a few outfits just in case I had free time on my hands on this trip, and then I laid out a boring guy outfit of jeans and your typical casual shirt.
The next morning the alarm went off at 6AM for getting my daughter up and off to school and I laid there in bed for a moment as my wife just about catapulted out of it. I almost giggled at the reversal in rolls, because early on in our 24 year marriage I used to be the one that jetted out of bed and always had to kind of prod her to get her moving. Today I was the one being a slug while it didn’t seem to bother her at all to get up with no delay. What the heck has the world come to anyway?
I laid there in bed watching my wife make her way to her closet and start getting dressed for the day, and I wondered just how feasible it would be to try and sneak in another couple of hours of sleep, but I just couldn’t handle the guilty feeling that was growing at the back of my mind. With a sigh, I gave in to the guilt and dragged my lazy butt outta bed and headed down the stairs to make my wife some coffee. Just as I walked past our two year olds closed door his parent detector went off and he started to holler that he wanted “up”, and by the tone of voice, he wanted “up” by God right this second! Now holding the little Tasmanian devil in my arms I again headed down the steps, got him something to eat, and managed to make the pot of coffee I had planned on. I had a nice domestic morning taking care of the little one, helping to get my daughter ready for school, and reminding my wife that I still loved her by getting her some coffee and toast, and then I killed the rest of the morning chatting with her and surfing the internet. At about 1130 it struck me that I had killed too much time and really needed to get my behind off to the airport before I ended up late, so I grabbed my bags and gave my wife a hug.
“I love you and I will miss you!” I told her as I kissed her forehead.
“I love you too. Have a good trip.” She replied. As I made my way to the door, she surprised me by calling out to me.
“Hey. . . “
Mid way through the door with my huge suitcase towed behind me and a twenty pound backpack slung over my shoulder, I turned to see what she wanted.
“Thanks for sticking around. . . “
For just a moment I started to get that warm and fuzzy feeling, thinking to myself that I was glad I had gotten out of bed to help her with our children. I started to smile and then all the implications of her simple statement struck me.
“Hold it! You are talking about today and not just in general right?” I asked her with a laugh.
“Well yeah, but maybe a little bit of both” she replied with a laugh of her own.
On my drive to the airport I kept thinking about her words.
“Thanks for sticking around . . . “ she had said. Wow, apparently my wife misses me so much that she felt the urge to thank me for spending time with her instead of leaving early in the morning to fly pretty. When it came down to the choice of flying pretty or spending a few extra minutes with my wife and children in the morning, I had chosen my family so rarely that my wife felt compelled to comment on it and to thank me for it.
When I first met my wife, I was at the lowest point in my life. I was suffering almost crippling depression, most definitely deep in the hands of alcohol abuse, and in legal trouble with the US Army for something stupid I had done while drinking. For some reason (and I’ll never know why) she managed to look beyond all of that and to see the person that I might become. Not only to see that person, but to have the patience to wait for me to become that person. This person that had saved me from a life of loneliness and depression, this person that had helped me to become a decent man, husband, and father, had stood in our home and thanked me for spending the morning with her. . .
Clearly I have been doing something horribly wrong . . .
I admit that sometimes I have come to almost think of myself as female, or at least largely female, but every once in a while something like this jumps up and slaps me in a way that makes it plain that I apparently am still very much a male.
A woman would not have needed this to be pointed out to her and she would not have needed someone to explain this to her. She would have known what it would mean to your spouse to always be choosing the selfish path over her, and she would have known that it was important to sometimes choose to spend a few hours with your spouse over doing something for yourself. I think that a woman would have known. Me, on the other hand, I had to be hit over the head with it.
There was no one I recognized at the Delta counter when I checked in and so I sailed through that and the TSA check point with little or no conversation and soon found myself sitting on a large and comfortable airplane. It was quite a nice change of pace from the cramped little planes that I normally get stuck on. As I entered the aircraft I almost, but not quite, stopped in my tracks as I saw the flight attendant, because she had to be one of the prettiest and cutest women I had ever seen. She was a woman of medium height, with long blond hair, and a tiny and perfect waist that was immensely flattered by the Delta airlines uniform skirt and blouse. Her makeup was light and flawless and she wore her hair up in a single pony tail that sort of stood up an inch or two before falling down her back, and all I could think of was that she was a living Barbie Doll. I kept catching myself sneaking looks at her as others were boarding the aircraft, and eventually I reminded myself that since I didn’t care for it when people kept staring at me, I really should stop obsessing about her. Trying to distract myself, I pulled my kindle out of my bag and began to read my latest “society ended and here’s how people survived it” book. I was just starting to get into the story when someone walking by stopped and tapped me on the shoulder.
“Hey” he says to me. Since I really don’t know that many people in the Austin area, this kind of surprised me, and so I probably just about jerked my head up to look at him. With a feeling of shock, I recognized one the few men in my office that I work with quite a bit. The shock wasn’t really at seeing him, but more the thought of what might or could have been. What if I had made the flight dressed? Would he have recognized me? Would it have been the end of my job or would he have just walked by me, never having realized who I was? When I was younger I would have been 90% sure that no one would recognize me, but as I age I am afraid that my “looks” are coming closer together, and the change between Matt and Kim is not as significant as it once was.
“Hey, what brings you to my world?” I said to him with a snort.
“I’ve got a couple of customers in Detroit to visit.” He replied with a short and to the point response.
“Well, good to see ya’!” he added after realizing that he was holding up the line. As he walked by my first class seat on his way to coach, he gave me an odd look and rolled his eyes. The message clearly being that he thought it less than amusing that the lowly service engineer was gonna fly first class, while he, the sales/product expert was headed back to coach. I cant wait to talk to him later to rub that one in!
Apparently determined to make an ass outta myself, I blushed and stammered every single time that the Barbie Doll flight attendant asked if I wanted something to eat or drink. At some point during the flight, I recalled the feeling of joy it gave me when a woman in the Austin airport had just suddenly told me “You are beautiful!” and I resolved to try and screw up the courage to tell Barbie the same. As we left the aircraft after landing, she told most of the first class passengers goodbye on their way out, to include me when my turn came.
“Thank your flying Delta, we appreciate your business!” She told me with a stunning smile.
“Thank you!” I replied, and then with a red face, my heart in my throat, and my pulse rushing in my ears. “You know I have to tell you – you are one of the very prettiest women that I have ever seen.”
“Thank you so much!” she answered with kind of a surprised look on her face and then a huge smile. I didn’t wait to see what else she might say, because I was too busy almost running up the gate ramp, afraid that God might strike me dead for getting up the courage to make such a poor attempt at complimenting such a pretty woman.
As it turns out, my colleague was coming to Detroit to talk to one of the same customers that I was here to work with, and judging by my customers greeting to me, he had clearly been there before me.
“Hey Matt! Glad to see you and thanks for coming on such short notice! Hey, you know your sales guy was here last night right? Yeah, we made sure to tell him how much we liked you and that you are our preferred service guy!” he told me as we shook hands.
“Well hell, that was damn nice of you – thanks! So does that mean I owe you a steak lunch today?” I asked with a laugh.
“Damn right it does!” he replied with a wink and a laugh of his own.
“No worries! You keep lying to my manager and the sales guy, and I’ll keep buying lunch when I come. Deal?!”
I thought I was going to have a short day, because what I had to do there was not that hard to accomplish, but when I was almost done, I received an email from another customer in the Detroit area – Ford. Ford is one of my favorite customers for several reasons. They are of course the creator of my beloved 1967 Mustang, and also of my 2002 F150 – two vehicles that I love. I also happen to really like the woman that I work with there. I was new to infrared mass spec (FTIR) when I first met her, but she was not. She told me how she and her group had pioneered the use of FTIR at Ford many years ago, and how they had started off with a huge bench top systems that required constant alignment and adjustment. They were delighted to move on to our much more compact and reliable system when it became available years later. That first day so many years ago when I was working with her, I knew that she knew more about the thing than I did, and she knew that she knew more about it than I did, and still she was a good and kind person that had patience with me as I worked things out. Of course that was a long time ago and I now feel confident that I can hold my own with her, but she remains one of my very favorite customers to this day. Needless to say, when she sends out an email asking for help, I bend over backwards to take good care of her, and it was enormously good fortune that I just happened to be only an hour or so from her when she needed it. The bad news is that it ruined my chance to have an afternoon to myself, but at least I know that I did what was right between my customer and my company.
That night after I completed repairs for both customers, it just felt too late for doing anything pretty, but not necessarily too late to go shopping in boy mode, and so off I went to the mall! At JC Penny’s I found three dresses on clearance sale, grabbed them, and took them to the mens fitting room where I tried them on. While I could get them all on, one of the dresses was too tight, the other just didn’t flatter my figure, and the third was . . . well, it was perfect! It had a red and black pattern that I knew were good colors on me, and I was delighted to see that while it had originally sold for $80, it was now selling for only $15! It just doesn’t get any gooder than that! Delighted, I made my way to the cash register. Just as I approached the empty register a young man and woman stepped up just in front of me, and so I got in line behind them. After a a few minutes, the folks in front of me were done and I started to step up for my turn.
“I’m sorry, but the line forms over there.” The sale associate told me while pointing to the other side of the counter where two people had formed a line after I had arrived.
“You know I see that now, but I was here long before those folks formed a line.” I told her, feeling just a bit offended.
“I’m sorry, but you will need to wait in the line.” She replied.
“No ma’am, I don’t. I’d rather give you the dress back than get in the end of a line that formed after I was waiting here.” I told her, placed the dress on the counter, and turned to walk away.
“Hold on dear!” called out the first woman in the newly formed line. “You were here first – you go right ahead!”
“Are you sure?” I asked her, looking in her eyes to try and tell if she was doing what she thought of as the right thing, or if she thought that she was just humoring the asshole. With a kind smile, she waved me forward again, and so with a quick look at the sales associate, I again stepped up to the counter. Dress in hand, I thanked the woman that had waved me forward and then made my way to Macy’s.
Once in Macy’s, I made my way to their sales racks, looking for another good deal, and my eye was drawn to a red dress. It was not the caliber of the red dress that I had found in Dillards a couple of weeks ago, but it was pretty nice, and so I pulled it off of the rack to get a look at it and at it’s tag. As I was holding it up to look at it, a Macy’s sales associate walked by.
“Just your size!” She quipped with a grin.
“You know, it just might be!” I replied with a laugh while looking at the size 12 tag.
“I’m just teasing you. Can I help you?” she asked.
“No ma’am, I’m well beyond help but thanks!” I replied with one of my favorite jokes.
“Well, that puts you at least one step ahead of most people! At least you know your beyond help!” she laughed.
“Well, let me know if you need anything!” she told me and then moved off.
I usually wear size 14, but I have found a lot of 12’s and a lot of 16’s fit me perfectly as well, so there was a bit of hope. I looked at the price tag and saw that it was priced at over $80 after a number of mark downs, but after doing a little math in my head I figured that the price tag still said it was more than the 50% off rack said it should be, and so I took it to the counter where I found the same sales associate was now standing. She took one look at me.
“So you DID find your size!” she said with a giggle.
“You joke, but you never do know these days!” I told her with a laugh, and while seriously contemplating showing her my pic on my cell phone. Fighting the urge to get a giggle with the shock tactic, I just handed her the dress.
“The rack it was on said 50% off, but it’s current price is a bit more than that. Can you tell me what it really costs?”
“$70” she told me after scanning the tag.
“You know, it may be worth that much, but it’s more than I wanna pay. Thank you anyway!”
“No problem, and thanks for letting me play with you!” she replied to me. I again seriously considered pulling out my photo just to show her that kidding or not, she had hit the nail on the head, but I decided that I’d leave it alone.
I headed back to my hotel with my new dress in hand, and started to get my stuff together for flying home the next morning. Once again I had the back and forth decision making process where I tried to decide if I should fly pretty or drab, and eventually I decided to go pretty. Now the next bit of nerve wracking was about WHAT to wear! I had brought a few outfits with me and I had also just bought the cute little red, black, and white dress – so what to wear?! At last I settled on the new dress and started packing everything else away and getting the odds and ends ready that I would need for the following days trip. I had most of my things put away and most of my outfit picked out when I ran into a serious snag – I had forgotten to bring even a single bra with me! What kind of cross dresser leaves the house without a single bra for goodness sakes? In self disgust, I packed away my pretty things and took my male outfit back out, now resigned to flying home drab. The thing is, the following morning I decided that really wanted to fly pretty, and it had been so long since I’d felt a strong desire to do that, that I decided to make the effort to make it happen. At 8AM yours truly was shopping at the local Walmart for a pretty white bra, and by 11AM I was dressed and headed for the airport, sporting my pretty new dress!
As I approached the TSA check point in the Detroit airport, there were two large, African American, female TSA agents chatting with each other, and they both looked up at about the same time and with the same look that I long ago learned to recognize – the “Wow, that really is a cross dresser standing in front of me” look.
“Good morning!” I said to both of them as I handed my ID and ticket over.
“Good morning to you!” one of them replied. “And how are you today?”
“Oh hell, I just couldn’t be any gooder, thank you for asking. And how are you?”
“Fine thank you!” she replied with a huge grin.
“That dress is adorable!” the other woman injected.
“Awe thanks! I just got it yesterday!” then I leaned in like I was gonna tell her a secret. “Ya know, JC Penny’s rocks!”
They both laughed, inspected my documents, and then passed me through.
Most of the time you will find yourself going through the full body scanner at the Detroit airport, and this time was no exception. This always makes me a bit nervous because more often than not they decide to frisk me as a result of my breast forms. This time they surprised me though.
“Wait here a moment please.” Said the female TSA agent at the outlet of the scanner, clearly waiting to hear over her headsets if I needed additional screening or not.
“OK, I’m gonna have to pat down the back of your neck if that’s all right?” she asked.
I just nodded and then she patted the back of my neck briefly.
“All right – you’re free to go!” She said with a smile.
I was grabbing my stuff off of the Xray belt when a male TSA rep looked at me with a look of regret as if he was personally sorry that I had been inconvenienced.
“I guess they just liked your hair.” He told me with an apologetic grin.
“Oh it’s no problem, I’ve been through worse” I assured him, thinking of the many times I had been forced to stand there with someone patting down my chest or legs.
After putting my shoes and sparklies back on, I made my way to the Delta Skyclub to kill the three hours before my flight.
As I took my seat in the first class section, the gentleman in the seat next to me looked up.
“We are in for a treat on this flight!” he told me. There were a number of thoughts that went through my mind at this comment, most of it along the lines of “Oh great, he’s being sarcastic, hates the thought of sitting next to a cross dresser, and is about to say something really mean.”
Much to my relief though, his comment had nothing to do with little ol’ me.
“Really? How so?” I asked him
“Do you see the cute flight attendant?” He asked, pointing at an adorable flight attendant with red hair standing at the door and greeting people.
“Uh huh” I replied
“She’s a magician! I’ve been on a couple of flights with her before and she will actually do some magic for you! She is really good at it too!” he told me.
“I’ll be darned! I don’t think I’ve ever actually seen a magician before, so that would be really neat!”
As the plane taxied to the runway, I was disappointed to see the cute young and presumably magical flight attendant head to the back of the plane, and so I feared that I wasn’t gonna get to see any magic after all, but I shouldn’t have worried. Apparently the guy sitting next to me was one of those freaks of nature (someone who actually flies more often than I do) and the magic flight attendant made her way to our row part way through the flight just to see him.
“So would you like to see some magic?!” she asked him.
“Would you mind being my assistant?” She asked, looking at me with a huge smile.
“What the heck. You betcha!” I told her.
“OK, I have four cards – two red queens and two black aces.” She said and showed us all four of the cards.
“Hold out your hands for me” she told me, and then she showed me the two red cards and placed them face down in my palms.
“Wah la!” she said (or something along those lines). “Take a look!”
I turned the cards in my hands over to look at them and sure enough they were both now the Aces.
“Awesome!” we both told her.
“OK, now I have a couple of washers. Here, you hold this one.” She said to the guy next to me and placed a typical large washer into his hand and closed his hand around it.
“I have the other washer here.” She said, showing us the twin to the washer she had earlier placed in his hand.
“I’m going to go ahead and move the hole in the washer.” She said, and then placed her thumb and finger over the hole, then slowly started pulling them across the washer. Suddenly the hole in the washer was no longer in the center. Since she had her finger and thumb on the washer it wasn’t yet clear if she was “moving” the hole or if the hole was gone.
“You know, I’ve changed my mind. I’m just gonna move the hole onto your washer instead!” she said with a grin while showing us that there was no longer a hole in her washer at all. She then pointed at his hand indicating that he should open it, which he slowly did to reveal that his washer did indeed now have two holes!
“Hey you’re pretty good at that! Do you mind if I take your photo for my blog?” I asked her.
“Not at all – go ahead!” She said with a grin. “I’m already on youtube!”