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?!