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. . .