Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Buffalo New York / University of Waterloo

Current mood:rejuvenated

Buffalo NY 009

This week I was off to Buffalo NY and the University of Waterloo in Ontario Canada.
My flights left fairly late so I started the day off by getting my daughter ready and dropping her off at school, then I returned home to get myself ready for the day.
.. ..
Almost a year ago I bought a long, beautiful, brown leather skirt, but it’s been far too hot to wear it so it’s been sitting in my closet teasing me. Well, today I decided it was cool enough to risk wearing it, and out of the closet it came.
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.. ..
Having been pleased with the outdoor pictures I got last week in Kentucky, I started my drive to the airport by heading down a reasonably secluded farm road not far from my home. There was a thick fog that morning and so I was driving pretty slow. I was driving and thinking that the fog might help make the pics look pretty cool, when through the fog I could see a couple of cars almost blocking the road. As I got a little closer I can see that one is a police car and the officer is standing beside his car. I came to a stop and as he approached my truck, all I could think was the fact that my father-in-law goes for motorcycle rides with one of the local cops, and if this is him, my life is about to get real interesting.
“I’m sorry ma’am, but the road is closed” he tells me as he gets to my window.
“Not a problem, I can go around. No worries!” I told him with a wave and a smile, immensely relieved that he is not my father-in-law’s friend. Phew . . .   Still, it had scared me so I drove halfway to the airport before looking for someplace nice to stop again!
.. ..
Buffalo NY 003

As I was checking in with US Airways for my flight, the lady behind the counter went out of her way to stop and chat with me after getting my bags all checked in. She was a cute young lady (aren’t they all?) and put one foot up on the baggage scale as she started to talk.
“Your shoes are awesome!” she said with a sincere smile on her face.
“Thank you! I have sort of  a thing for cute shoes.” I told her, and gave a wink to top it off..
“I don’t have any choice, I have to wear this!” she said with a look of distaste and while tugging on her uniform.  “I envy you. You get to wear what ever you want. If it were up to me, I’d wear jeans and flip flops.”  I stood there for a moment, wondering if she had any idea how much irony there was in her envying me because I get to choose my clothing.
“Well, I guess I could wear flip flops, but I think I’ll stick with something a bit prettier.” I told her. We chatted about nothing for a moment or two more and then off I went to go through security.
.. ..
I had chosen a isle seat in the emergency exit row and was just sitting down when a woman about my own age taps me on the shoulder and tells me that she is in the window seat. Shortly after we both get sat back down she suddenly gets this surprised look on her face.
“Oh no, this is an exit row! I can’t sit here. They need some big strong guy that can lift the door.” She said with a small laugh. I looked at her, wondering if this was really why she wanted to move, or maybe it was a convenient excuse to get another seat, maybe one a little farther from away from me. She seemed sincere though, so I offered to swap seats with her, assuring her that properly motivated, I wouldn’t have the least bit of trouble getting that door out of the way. She didn’t respond to my offer but instead started chatting with me.
“So where are you headed?” she asked.
“I’m going to Buffalo and then on to Waterloo in Canada.”
“Cool. What takes you there?”
“My job.” I told her, keeping it a little vague.
“No kidding! What do you do?” she continued the interview / interrogation. I’m not in the least bit ashamed of what I am, but I’m not so sure that my company would be as proud of me as I am of it, and so I don’t care to tell everyone I encounter who I work for, so again my response was a little vague.
“I’m a field service engineer. When my company sells something, I go install it and train the customer, and when it breaks, I go fix it.” I told her, just positive that her next question is going to be “WHO do you work for.” But it wasn’t.
“What kind of equipment do you work on?” she continued, as people continued to filter past us looking for their own seats.
“I work mostly on our Infrared Mass Spectrometers.” I said, sort of liking the way that it sounds so much more impressive than it really is. Both of her eye brows rose in surprise.
“Wow! You must be a very smart lady!” she said, and I started laughing.
“Not really, but I’ve got my company fooled, and since I love my job, I try to keep it that way!” I told her. Well it turns out that she was sitting in the wrong seat anyway, and soon a tall gentleman approached with a flight attendant in tow to claim his rightful seat. This one was quiet and didn’t want to chat, and that suited me just fine. After we got all settled again, I realized that I had forgotten to put my bracelets back on after going through security, and so I pulled them out of my purse and started fiddling with them. One is fairly hard to get clasped and so I had made multiple failed attempts, when the gentleman next to me speaks up.
“Would you like a hand with that?” he asked me, with a friendly look if not an actual smile. That actually set me back a step with all that it implied. Either he knew what I was and was comfortable enough to still help with the bracelet or he didn’t realize what I was and was offering to help a woman. Either way it was a win-win for me!  Fortunately I got the bracelet clasped on my very next attempt and so required no help. The rest of the day was pretty much a typical day in airports and airplanes, and by the time I got to my hotel in Buffalo at around 730, I was tired and called it a night.
.. ..
The following morning I set off for the two hour drive to the University of Waterloo. The repair turned out to be a bit harder than I’d anticipated, but still I was on my way back to Buffalo by around 330PM. I’d been driving for maybe 20 minutes when the car started to make an odd humming noise. This continued for about five minutes and then suddenly there was a super loud grinding / whining sound. My heart leapt in to my throat and I started looking for a place to pull over when the loud noise settled back down to just a scary noise. I was starting to relax a little when suddenly it again made the super loud grinding sound. I no longer trusted this car toget me the hour and a half to Buffalo and so I used my GPS to find an AVIS dealer in the city of Hamilton. After an hour of stop and go traffic I arrive at the spot where the GPS says Avis is supposed to be . . . and there is nothing there! Having no choice, I head back to the freeway in my whining and grinding rental car.  Much to my relief, the car did indeed get me all of the way back, making the loud hum the entire way, but never again making the super loud grinding sound. As with the last time I tried to return to the States from Canada, the US border patrol grilled me, made me pull the car over, and went through it.
“What? Do I have a guilty face or something?” I asked the guard, with what I hoped was a friendly laugh.
“No, we are just doing our job, and have to inspect a few here and there.” He replied. A short while later I was on my way.
.. ..
I once again decided to make the flight home “dressed”. This is a mixed blessings thing, because I like to fly pretty as it makes the day a bit more interesting, but I can’t arrive at home dressed because of my daughter. This means that I have to clean up and change in the Austin airport, and this is a bit uncomfortable to do. What the hell though, I’ll take twenty minutes of pain for a day of fun.

Buffalo NY 029
.. ..
As I dropped the car off, I warned the Avis people about the problems and they appeared supremely unimpressed. Oh well, don’t say I didn’t warn you! Going through TSA security in Buffalo NY was a little fun. The guy takes my ticket and ID with the female picture on it and starts to scribble on the ticket. Then he gets to the name and so help me God, he looks up into my eyes with a look of obvious and complete shock. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such obvious  surprise in someone’s face before and it was all I could do to keep from laughing outright. Clearly he hadn’t had the foggiest clue that I was male until he saw my name. He did recover though, completed the documentation, and told me to have a nice day. I’m still grinning about that as I write this.
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Buffalo NY 034

So I wrote this blog on my flight from Buffalo to Charlotte NC thinking that anything interesting that was going to happen had already occurred – I was wrong! On the flight I was fortunate enough to get a free upgrade to first class, something most airlines try and do for their frequent flyers. The man I sat next to was friendly and kept chatting with me, and the flight attendant was a very friendly and outgoing sort. Between the friendly and helpful flight attendant, and a seat mate that was doing the same, I had more than one of those drinks with the itty bitty bottles of alcohol in it. At one point the FA came up to me.
“You know, I’m also a bartender and I know how to make this real neat drink with orange juice in it. Wanna try one?” I looked at the empty cup that had held the screw driver I’d just finished, and at the full cup that held the screw driver I’d just got, and started to laugh.
“Sure, why not?!” I told him, and my seat mate who was also putting down his fair share of drinks laughed. The drink was really quite good, but in the end it meant that I’d had three drinks in a little over an hour, so when I got off the plane, I had to visit the ladies room, and bad. First I tried the “Special Needs” bathroom and found it locked, so out of sheer desperation I went on to the ladies room. As I left the bathroom I stood in the walkway for a moment trying to decide if I should go to my gate or go get something to eat, when someone walked up to me.
“Kimberly?” says this gentleman that I’ve never seen before. It doesn’t happen often, but I have had people walk up to me and call me by name in public before, so I wasn’t exactly shocked. I don’t recall my exact words, but I assured him he had the right person, and so we started chatting. Turns out that he had been looking at my Youtube page just last night, and so he was pretty surprised to discover me in the airport today. Laura and I got something cold to drink and then sat and chatted for about an hour. Talk about a smart person. Laura put herself through college, now owns her own business, and does a good deal of international travel supporting her company. As if that weren’t enough, she also speaks several languages, which comes in handy when you travel international. It was a most pleasant conversation and I was very grateful for her company in passing the time. 
.. ..
On the flight home, I sat next to a very young marine that had a pass to go home for the Holiday. He was still in training and so we spoke a great deal about the military and the life he has ahead of him. I was very impressed with him for starting the conversation as one might be inclined to think that a US Marine might not be too eager to chat with a cross dresser. As the flight was landing, one of the flight attendants got on the PA to thank everyone for flying US Airways. After the standard comments she added that she thought Austin was a great place and that her son had just moved here a few months ago. She went on to add over the PA that her son loved the open minded nature of Austin and that she was so happy he had found someplace where he felt accepted and comfortable, and that he loved the “keep Austin Weird” spirit. I couldn’t help myself, when she finished her address with the “Keep Austin Weird” slogan, I looked at the marine next to me and smiled at him.
“Well, I’m doing MY part!” I told him, and heard at least three or four people around us bust up laughing.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Lexington Kentucky

This has been a hell of a week. Friday the thirteenth of November, I decided to get sick during training that I was giving to NASA on one of our Mass Spectrometers. Yeah I know it’s an exaggerated reputation, but thank goodness that those guys at NASA really are that smart. I normally spend two days to train people on that thing and these guys were confidently operating it in only four hours. Considering that I was loosing my voice during the training, it’s a good thing!
Well, what ever it was I came down with, it knocked me on my behind and kept me there for an entire week. I had customers lining up but I just wasn’t in any shape to get on an airplane until Thursday rolled around.

Thursday, I headed out for the University of Kentucky in Lexington for a service call. Still feeling pretty rough, I flew the good old fashioned way - boy mode. I figured that it didn’t matter how good I may or may not look, if I let loose with a deep and thoroughly male coughing fit, the illusion of femininity was definitely going to be destroyed. It turned out that it was a good thing I did though. The FAA had some sort of computer outage that more or less shut down or delayed all flights in the US for something like four hours. After they got their computer back up and running, things were in a shambles. My flights were all delayed, rebooked, and then they lost my baggage, not getting it to me until just short of midnight.
I had a good laugh getting on the plane though, as I and another passenger found our seats all the way at the back of the plane. The other guy points to the wall of the flight attendant station that blocked his view of the inside of the plane, and then he pointed to the solid wall of the jet engine just outside his window, and laughed.
“It sure is a good thing I’m not claustrophobic!” he said with a laugh.
“Well, look at the bright side,” I told him “If the plane goes down, you wont see it coming.” He gave a short laugh then stopped.
“Hey, hold it. That’s not funny!” he said, giving me a mock dirty look. A couple of moments later he gets my attention again, and points at the emergency exit in the tail.
“At least we don’t have far to run screaming.” He said. A short moment later, he continued . “Then again, that plane that went down in the Hudson a while back. Didn’t it fill with water from the rear?”
I just looked at him for a second.
“Say, your just full of bright and cheerful thoughts aren’t you?” Then it was my turn to pause for effect. “Say, that’s not funny!”
As I said, when I arrived I found that my baggage hadn’t, and that played out the way that it always does. A bit of paper work and then off to my hotel where I waited until just short of midnight for my bags to arrive. While I waited for them, I went down to Bogart’s, the hotels Pub, where I had a free drink and an expensive fish sandwich. While I sat there chatting with a couple of guys at the bar, a band came in and started setting up instruments and doing their sound check. They sounded awesome and I started to get excited until the bartender told us they were just setting up but wouldn’t actually be playing until Friday night. Since I’d been sick early in the week, I had set this trip up to do the repair on Friday night and travel on Saturday, so I made up my mind that I would come back tomorrow night to hear them. The hotel was called the Campbell House and was part of the “Crowne Plaza” franchise - a much nicer hotel than most that I stay at, and so it wasn’t exactly going to be an imposition for me to spent the evening there.
The following day, I felt a bit better, but I was still a long way from the top of my form. The drive to my customers location was almost like going back in time, with huge houses, immense lawns, and wooden fences with horse runs and corrals every where you look.
The two people that I worked with at the University were both from China and very friendly and pleasant people to deal with. They had inherited our Mass Spec from someone that had moved on from the University, and were given no training what so ever on it’s upkeep and operation and so I spent a good deal of time teaching them about it. While the repair itself took me only about three hours, I spent so much time training them that I didn’t get out of there until about 2PM and so was back at the hotel at about 3.
I sat there in my hotel staring at the wall and trying to decide if I felt well enough for it to be worth the time and effort of getting “dressed”, and ultimately decided I would give it a go. Worse case scenario, I could head right back to my room and go to bed!

I pulled out a long white skirt I had bought recently but not yet worn. I smiled as I considered how many people were going to at least think to themselves “White after labor day??!!” but I figure what the hell. I’m already breaking the cardinal fashion rule: “Men shall not wear women’s clothes!” so why worry about the white after labor day thing?!

It was still fairly early when I was ready and so I decided I’d go see a movie. I headed to the theater, intent on seeing “2012”, but I had failed to consider that this was a Friday night in a major city – EVERYONE was going to the movies. I circled the parking lot in a line of other cars all looking for parking, until 20 minutes after the movie started. Still not having found a parking space, I decided that the movie was a bust and went shopping instead. I went through the mall there in Lexington, hitting my favorites – Macy’s and Dillards, but I found nothing I liked and could afford.
I am growing to really hate the kiosks that all of the malls now have filling the walkways. I swear, in male mode they don’t ever talk to or bother me. In female mode every damn one of them wants to stop me and try and sell me something. In every kiosk, at every mall around the country, it’s always the same line too:
“Excuse me Miss, do you mind if I ask you a question?”
Grrrr.  . . .

I couldn’t help but giggle as I walked past one store while looking in to see if there was anything interesting. Two pretty SAs were behind the counter and one of them practically yelled all the way out the door to me.
“Hi ma’am, come on in!” she said. I looked up at them to find both are looking at me with curious smiles and so I smiled and waved at them. Both of them broke in to the biggest grins you have ever seen. Good news / bad news kind of thing. They were both clearly curious and cool but they had also clearly decided what I was all the way from the door. Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think you yell out the door at just anyone that is walking by. Still, I’ll take the curiosity and honest smiles any day.
I returned to my hotel where I went directly to Bogarts, the pub, and ordered some food and staked out a table where I could watch the band that was to start in about an hour. It struck me while I was sitting there that I really am a nerd. There I sat in my long white skirt, black mary janes, in a pub, watching Babylon 5 on my IPOD. Yup, a nerd. . .
I got a few curious looks from folks as the place started to fill up. Nothing rude or anything of the sort, just curious. That might be as much from the fact that I appeared to be about the only person actually alone there too though.

I was delighted with the band just as soon as they started. I’ve heard some that may be technically better, but these guys had “it”. "It" being that hard to define quality that makes them interesting to watch and hear. The lead singer sounded a like a cross between Gary Puckett and Tom Jones and was just full of confidence and attitude. Wow what I’d give to have that kind of confidence and power behind my own vocals!  They played a lot of music that I knew and liked and soon the dance floor was full. I noticed that most of the crowd was in their late 50’s and older, with one woman easily in her 70’s. Still, I had to hand it to her – she was well dressed and wearing a skirt suit that I wouldn’t mind having my damn self, and unlike me, SHE was out on the dance floor.

I was just starting to consider this when someone tapped me on the arm and startled me so bad I almost went to the roof. I glance over to see Kenny Rogers standing at my side. OK, it was not Kenny, but they could have been brothers.
“Excuse me, do you ever dance with short guys?” he asked me with a huge grin.
“Oh no, I don’t dance with ANY guys!” I told him with a nervous laugh. “Dancing scares the hell out of me!”
“Well that’s too bad, because you look like your bored to death just sitting there.” He said with a classic boo-boo lip.
“I am so flattered and thank you for the invitation, but no thank you.” I told him. Still, as he left I felt a bit disappointed. I like the concept of dancing, the concept of maybe belonging and being a part of the crowd, but I literally have a phobia of dancing. I’ve tried dancing maybe three times in my life, and it makes me so scared and nervous that I could darn near faint.
About twenty minutes later, another gentleman came up to my table.
“Come on, lets go shake our things!” he said just loud enough to be heard over the seventies hit the band was playing, and I repeated the same conversation again but with him this time. I was starting to feel a little uncomfortable with the attention, and still wasn’t feeling well, so when the band took a break, I headed for my room. As I was leaving, I crossed paths with a guy just coming in, and he let out a small whistle as he looked me up and down.
“Well Heelllooooo Darlin’!” he said while winking at me. “And how are YOU tonight?!”
Hmmm . . . . interesting night!

Saturday morning I woke up with a start. I’d swear I heard someone yell my name, but I was of course alone in my room. Didn’t matter that it must have been a dream, because my heart was racing and I was wide awake. Checking my itinerary, I discovered that the young lady that makes my travel arrangements had set up my flights to leave at 1PM. I don’t know if she thought this was a kindness to me and was letting me sleep in, or if it was the cheapest flight on a Saturday, but I had a lot of time on my hands. I was starting to pack my things away when it struck me. If I could fit a change of clothes in to my back pack, I had plenty of time to get ready and fly home pretty, and I could then just change in the airport before driving home. My heart started to pound a little harder just thinking about it. Not only would that be flying from a airport other than the one I had become comfortable with, but this was Lexington Kentucky, a place at least as well known as Texas for it’s conservative and religious values. I wonder if there is any chance I’d run in to trouble flying from there? Still, it had been a long time since the thought of doing anything cross dressed had made my heart race, so I figured I’d give it a shot. I had to dump everything from my laptop back pack in to my suitcase to make room, but I did just barely get a pair of shoes and change of clothes in to it, and off I went for the airport!

As I handed in my auto rental agreement, the lady behind the counter was a gem. One of those people with an honestly cheerful attitude and terrific smile, and she was a real pleasure to chat with as she totaled up everything. I was relieved to find that there was no problem at all getting through the security and soon I was on my way to my connection in Detroit. As I sat at the gate in Detroit, I had noticed that it still didn’t indicate that the flight to Austin would be leaving from the gate. Apparently I wasn’t the only one, as I could hear a lady talking to the woman behind the counter about it, and shortly she made an announcement.
“Flight XXX to Austin Texas WILL be leaving out of this gate. If your going to Austin, you're in the right place.” She announced. The woman that had been asking her about it walked by me and I smiled up at her.
“That’s nice to know isn’t it?” I asked her.
“I know! I finally had to go ask them about it!” she replied as she was walking by. Then she stopped walking, hesitates a second, and walked over to me. She reached out and picked up my left hand, and looked at the female wedding ring I was wearing.
“That’s gorgeous!” she practically gushed, causing me to blush.
“Well thank you. You know I bought that at an airport about a week ago for $40.” I said with a laugh and a wink. We chit chatted for a moment or two and then she headed off.

As I write this, I still have to do the Superman thing, and change clothes and clean up in the airport when the flight lands. What the hell, if superman can do it in a phone booth, I can do it in a bathroom. Anything boys can do, I can do better . . .

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Critter Wisdom

It was close to bed time and I tried to get my 6 year old daughters attention away from cartoons long enough to get the message through her head "Daddy loves you". Being unhappy with her offhand and thoughtless response as she tries to look around me to see the TV, I try to share my wisdom, to maybe give her a glimpse at what it means when someone says "I love you".
"Sweetheart, do you know what it means to love someone?" I asked.
"Yes", she said, still watching the TV.
"OK, what does it mean?" I asked
"I'm not telling you because you already know." she replied, craning her head around, trying to see the TV past my head.
"OK, I'll tell you then. When you love someone, their being happy is more important to you than your own happiness." I replied, feeling smug, intelligent, and wise.
Now, for the first time in this conversation, she takes her eyes off the TV and looks right at me.
"Good, because I'm happy watching the TV!" she responded, slowley and clearly, just in case I was too stupid to "get it" if she spoke too quickly.
You know she actually got mad at me when I couldn't stop laughing? Fair is fair though - I shared my wisdom and she shared hers . . .

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Gone to Detroit

Current mood:calm
Detroit 2009 11 09 001  

Monday, 9 November, I headed out for a flight to Detroit, but the story really sort of starts on Sunday, the day before. You see that was the afternoon I spent going through my closet trying things on to see what I could bring and wear on my trip, and I discovered that quite a lot of my skirts are far too tight! It seems that maybe I’ve been doing too much eating and too little exercise lately. Either that, or someone is sneaking in to my closet and washing everything in hot water to shrink it! If I ever catch that little bastard . . .    Ultimately I did find a few things that I thought would work, and so I packed them away and set one aside for wearing on the trip.
.. ..
Monday was an early day, as are most when I’m flying, especially if I’m flying as Kim. It takes me about one and a half hours to get ready, and I have to be out the door before my daughter gets up for school, so it was a 330 AM start. I started off by getting my makeup on, and let’s face it, it takes a lot of makeup to take this 44 year old to look anything remotely resembling attractive. Next I reached for my outfit and had to suck the tummy in purty hard to get my skirt on. God I hate not being built right. LoL
I could be wrong, but I don’t think it was obvious that the skirt was now far tighter than it really should have been.
.. ..
.. ..Detroit 2009 11 09 003
.. ..
As I was making my way through the TSA security line at Austin, one of the TSA agents inspecting the passengers documents and ID was a reasonably cute young lady. She caught my attention by her tone and demeanor as she repeatedly was saying “Next passenger please!”  It’s not that she was yelling, or loud, it was just her tone and manner. After more than a decade in the Army, I have no trouble recognizing the tone of an NCO, so I asked her as I handed my ID and tickets over.
“You’ve been in the Military haven’t you?” I asked her with a smile.
“I spent five years in the Army!” she confirmed for me.
“Would you believe I spent 12 years in?” I asked her with a grin. “I was pretty sure I recognized the sound of an NCO there.”
On my connection from Houston to Detroit, an older woman wanted to argue with me about my seat. My assigned seat (“F”) was a window seat, and I was getting comfortable when she stopped, looked at her ticket, then at me.
“Isn’t that seat D?” she asked me.
“No ma’am, it’s F.” I replied.
“Well I’m supposed to be in D.” she said, pointing at my seat and making it clear with her emphasis that she didn’t understand me and still thinks I’m in her seat. We went back and forth a couple of times, trying to get her to understand.
“No ma’am, this is seat F, and it is the seat that I am assigned to.” I said while patting my chair and showing her my ticket. I’m trying not to get worked up, because if I start speaking loudly the whole “passing” thing is gonna go out the window. Apparently the lady in the row in front of me got irritated and turned around and spoke slowly and clearly to the lady that wanted to argue with me.
That is seat F, and it is her seat.” She said pointing at me. “That,” she continued while pointing at the isle seat, “is seat D and it is your seat.”  As the woman finally took her seat, the lady in front of me winked and sat back down.

Detroit 2009 11 09 011

When we landed, I went looking for my baggage, and I’d have to admit that I was a little nervous considering my lost baggage on my last flight. Just to make sure I was a wreck, my bags were among the last four or five to come off of the belt, but last or not, they did  come rolling off the conveyer. Grabbed my back pack, my huge suite case, and my rolling toolbox and headed for the rental car shuttle where I found a line of 6 or 7 guys all waiting. I cued up and was just sort of zoning while I waited, when the guy in front of me turned around to speak with me.
“It looks like Avis has the slow bus today!” he said with a smile.
“It kind of looks that way doesn’t it? Maybe it’s just me, but I’d swear Avis customer service has declined in the last few months.” I told him, and then after thinking for a second more I added “AND they keep giving me lousy cars!”
“No, it’s not just you – I noticed the same thing.” He told me. When the bus did finally arrive several minutes later, he offered to help me get my bags on to the bus but I politely declined. It always makes me uncomfortable when guys do that sort of thing for me, because I hate to think of how they may react when/if they realize what I am. He sat next to me, and once the bus was underway he started to talk to me. He asked about my work and who I worked for. I hesitated to tell him my company, but did it anyway, and was relieved when he said he had never heard of us. He told me that he manages a couple of plants just north of the border, up in Canada. Bad news – he is here to lay people off. Sort of good news – he is a caring man and it is tearing him up. He was clearly upset about it, but determined to do his duty.  I don’t know if might be TG, or just a nice guy, but I appreciated his striking up the conversation with me. As I was getting off of the bus he again offered to help, which I thought was sweet given that by that time he must have realized what I was as a result of our conversation. Again I declined, more out of habit than anything else I guess, and so I stumbled off the bus carrying my 120 pounds of gear on four inch heels.
.. ..
As I get the handles on my cases extended so that I could roll them to the car, I notice that there are four Avis employees standing at the kiosk and every single one of them is staring at me. Sometimes being stared at bothers me, and sometimes it amuses me. Today I went with feeling amused. What the hell, I just gave them a huge smile and turned and headed for my car. I had to grin again as I noticed that they were still watching me as I walked around and inspected the car for damage. As I stopped at their security gate, a cute blond woman stepped out and I recognized her as the lady that had chatted with me before.
“Hey sweat heart, how are you?” She asks, with a friendly smile. I gave her my standard answer.
“Oh hell, I just couldn’t be any gooder! How are you?”
“We were just talking about you today and how we hadn’t seen you in a while. Is everything going OK for you?” she said.
“Well enough, but not as busy as I’d like to be. You know, it can’t be a good thing when folks that work at an airport this huge remember you and know you!” I said with a laugh.
“Nah, you should be flattered! We like you.” She replied with a wink while handing my license and contract back to me. “You have a great time while you’re here OK?” she said as she raised the security gate for me and waved good bye.
.. ..
As I pulled up the hotel, I see that there are mattresses stacked everywhere, and a crew of men are loading them onto a large truck. They have the typical look of young men doing that sort of job, just as I did at that age, and I’m feeling a little nervous considering the walk across the parking lot with them standing there watching.  Sure enough, all eyes are on me as I take my bags out of the car. I’m not sure if it is the eyes of young men watching a woman in high heels and short skirt, or if it was something else. . .
I go through the usual routine with the clerk behind the counter.
“Checking in?” she asks me cheerfully.
“Yes ma’am.” I told her while handing her my platinum Holiday Inn Priority Club card and ID.
“Do you have a reservation?” she asks.
“I sure hope so, because I hate sleeping in the car.” That got a laugh out of her. Even though I had handed her my card, she asked me for my last name and I gave it to her. She looks for a bit and then asks for my first name. My last name is very unique in the US and I know darn well she doesn’t have more than one person with my last name staying there, so it hits me – she didn’t realize I’m a guy.
“Matthew,” I told her, and when she smiled and nodded I gave her a little laugh. “Yeah, I know. Not quite what you were expecting huh?”
She waved her arm and shook her head as if to say “it’s absolutely no problem”
As the elevator got to the third floor and opened, guess who is blocking the door trying to enter the elevator having not realized that it was occupied? Yepper, it’s three of the guys that were loading the mattresses up, and they were about to push two or three of them into the elevator before they realized it was occupied. It was comical and gratifying to see the way they fell all over themselves to clear a path. I heard a whole chorus of several voices saying things along the lines of “Oh! I’m SO sorry! Here, let me get that out of the way for you!” Every once in a while, it comes in handy having people think you’re a woman!

Detroit 2009 11 09 016
.. ..
I went to the Motor City Casino and donated $20 to them. That didn’t take long and so after stopping at Wendy’s to get a salad for dinner (yuck!) I was headed back to hotel and waiting behind a guy at the elevator. He had his hands full of bags filled with snacks, and popcorn, and that sort of thing.
“The damn elevator was full, and I had too much to carry, so I thought I’d take the next one.” He said with a ‘what can you do’ expression.
“Looks like you guys are in for the long haul” I told him while pointing at his snacks.
“You betcha!” he said. “And we brought the margarita machine with us too! We’re right down the hall from you?” he said, turning it into a question. It took me a second before it struck me. He also had not figured out what I am and had just invited me to their room for Margarittas! I was terribly flattered, but declined for a number of reasons.
.. ..
You know, other than the $20 I lost at the Casino, it was a purty nice day.