Friday, March 19, 2010

Gone to Denver!

..New Kim Avatar 

This weeks trip was to the Denver Colorado area for a couple of days. I like Detroit just fine, but it’s kind of nice to be going somewhere else for a change.

I dunno if maybe I’ve been burning the candle at both ends for too long or what, but I was moving very slow when the alarm went off at 230AM this morning. Since it took me so long to get out of bed, and then I moved too slow when I did get up, I was running way behind schedule by the time I was ready to head out of the house for the airport. My self imposed policy is to get to the airport two hours before my flights. Some folks think that this is excessive but it has saved my behind far too many times for me to change the way I do things. In all of the years that I have traveled for a living, I’ve never missed a flight for being late to the airport, and several times I was able to catch alternate flights when I arrived to find that my own had been canceled. Well, this morning I blew it all to hell and was getting in my truck to leave the house with only two hours before my flight, and I still had to make the forty minute drive to the airport! I had sort of an awkward moment when I stepped out of the house and peeked over toward my neighbors place. Four thirty in the morning and I see the head lights on his truck are on, but I can’t see if he is in it, and I don’t hear the engine running. I waited a few minutes and then looked a little harder and realized that his truck lights were NOT on – it was just the reflection of some decorative lights they had just installed in their yard off of his chrome bumper! Laughing at myself, I continued down the sidewalk to my truck and headed for the airport.

Denver 2010 03 002

Denver 2010 03 004

I arrive at the airport, just a little nervous because I only had about an hour before my flight took off, and so you can just imagine my joy when I discover that the lines are huge! The line to the Delta counter and the line through the TSA check point are both long as hell. They don’t always, but today the Delta counter has the First Class and Elite line open, so it doesn’t take me long to get to the front of the line. As I am waiting for the Delta CSR to call me up, a CSR comes up to the counter for Alaska Airlines right next to Delta and he grins and waves me up. I grabbed my bags and started to pull them forward when the Delta CSR stops me.
“Hold on!” she says to the guy at the Alaska counter. “She’s on Delta, not Alaskan.”
“That’s OK, I’ll take care of her.” He says, and again waves me forward. I’d just started to pull my bags forward again when the Delta CSR speaks up, once again causing me to stop.
“You understand she’s on Delta right?” she asks him, now leaving me entirely out of the conversation and looking only at him.
“Yes, no problem, I’ll just log on and take care of her.” He responded. This time I didn’t move and just glanced at the Delta CSR and raised an eyebrow and waiting to see what she was gonna say.
“Ok, cool. Thanks!” She said with a smile and then she waved me onto the guy at the Alaskan counter. He turned out to be very friendly and I’m perfectly happy that he took care of me, but I still have no idea what that was all about.

Thank goodness that Austin has started to offer a separate line for frequent and first class flyers, and so I got to walk right past a long line of people, saving me probably 30 minutes of waiting. Do you remember how I mentioned in prior posts that the TSA folks in Austin have apparently taken an interest in me lately and have been going out of their way to take walks by where I am sitting, sneaking peaks at me and whispering as they walk by? Do you also recall that I had made up my mind that the next time this happened I was gonna strike up a conversation with them just for the hell of it? Yeah, well they were one step ahead of me and out smart assed me. The TSA guard looks at my ID and then points to the “Needs further inspection” lane.
“Please enter that lane for additional inspection.” He says pointing to an empty lane with a “Stop Here” sign on it. He then turns and yells loudly behind him.
“Female assist!” and then looks back at me, grinning from ear to ear. “Thank you and have a nice day!”  I took my ticket and ID back from him and couldn’t decide if I should laugh that they have beaten me to escalating the fun, or if I should be a wreck because I’m already running late and this delay isn’t gonna help. Ultimately it just didn’t matter, so I got in the special lane as I was told to and waited for someone to call me forward. Shortly a female TSA agent approaches and she doesn’t really look all that happy, so I tried to be cute, thinking that I could give her a smile.
“I knew I was overdue for this!” I told her with a smile. She just looked up at me without even the hint of a smile.
“I’m sorry, what did you say?” she asked me. You can tell by her tone that I had made a mistake by trying to be amusing. Clearly this lady isn’t the friendly type, and I wished I hadn’t said anything. Too late for that now though, so I went ahead and expanded on my comment to her.
“I said I knew my number was gonna be up sooner or later because I fly a lot and it’s been a long time since I was selected for additional screening.” I said while handing her my ticket and ID. She didn’t even bother acknowledging my comment and got right down to business.
“Please stand with your feet apart and arms out.” She said while setting down my documents and picking up the hand held metal detector. First she runs the wand all over me. The thing never went off, but to my surprise she still starts to pat me down. Soon I’m blushing and just a bit embarrassed as she starts to pat the areas of my legs covered by my skirt, as if I might be hiding a back pack nuke or high explosives under there.
“Thank you, have a nice flight.” she says, still without the hint of a smile, and walks off.
I’d have to admit that I thought of at least two or three innuendos but decided that it wouldn’t be in my own best interests to pop off with them, and they probably would have been wasted on her in any case.  Still blushing, I gathered my things together, put on my jewelry and headed for my gate for the very short wait before the flight boarded.

My trip to Denver took me through the Salt Lake City airport where I caught a connecting flight. As the plane was approaching the airport, I couldn’t help noticing that the colors and textures of the area surrounding the airport were really quite pretty and so I made sure to take a few pictures.

Salt Lake City Utah Area 2010 03 008

The next amusing thing to happen was as I was boarding the plane in Salt Lake City for Denver and was approaching the flight attendant at the aircraft door.
“Well don’t you just look gorgeous?! All pretty in purple!” she exclaimed with a huge smile.
“Thank you!” I responded, “that is kind of what I was going for!”
“Well you look fabulous!” she said as I took my seat with a smile on my face and feeling just a little bit smug about myself.

Well, I arrived in Denver, picked up my rental car, and checked in at the hotel with nothing of any interest occurring. I had noticed a huge mall not more than a couple of miles from my hotel though, and so headed off to look for any bargains or sales there. Shortly after I entered the mall though, I noticed that one of my heels had started to sound a bit odd, and when I inspected it I found that the tip on the heel had broken most of the way off, and I was essentially walking on the tack or nail that had once held it in place. I have some worn out or damaged shoes that I like well enough to take to a repair shop but this pair isn’t one of them. I love the style and they are very pretty, but they are not comfortable because they have very little padding. Unfortunately, they are the only shoes I own that look good with brown or purple outfits though, and so now I needed replacements, so this gave me a mission and a goal for my shopping. I hit up every single shoe store in the mall, and all of the shoe stores I could find with in a few miles of it, and could not find any that I liked. How hard can it bee to find brown or burgundy, high heeled Mary Jane’s, with a rounded toe for goodness sake?

Denver 2010 03 016

At one point I was in Nordstroms browsing through the shoes and had paused to pick up a set of purple pumps that were exactly the color of my skirt. The only problem with them is that they were about four and a half inch stilettos with no strap. I can’t wear heels without a strap because my heels just tend to lift right out of them with each step, and so I’ve long since stopped even trying them. Still, they would have been a perfect match for my outfit and so I was holding them and considering it when a young male sales associate approached me.
“We’re having a bit of a purple day today I see!” he said with a giggle.
“I am indeed, but I’m having a minor problem!” I replied while lifting my foot behind me and showing him the damaged heel of my shoe.
“I would like something as close to these as I can get and I’ve been through this entire mall with no luck! Do you have any suggestions?” I asked.
“Not really. To be honest, this is the wrong time of year for closed toes – everyone is going towards sandals now.” He tells me, still looking around him while making small “tsk Tsk” sounds.
“I’m sorry, but I’m afraid we aren’t going to have anything quite like them.”
Still, he made the effort and we took a small walk around the shoe section. Soon he paused and picked up a pair of plain looking shoes that had about a one to one and a half inch chunky heel on them and showed them to me. I thought they were horrible and so was blunt with him.
“No thank you. They scream ‘old lady’ to me and while I may be failing fast, I’m not quite to the ‘old lady’ stage just yet!” I told him, and was relieved when he gave an honest laugh. At least he had a sense of humor, unlike certain TSA inspectors!
I spent the rest of the afternoon going through all of the shoe stores in the area and never did find a pair I liked.

The next day had me working until fairly late in the evening. It was too late and I was too tired for getting cleaned and dressed up by the time I was done.

Thursday, my last day in the area, I completed my work and was done by about two in the afternoon. Rather than doing the pretty thing, I decided to do a marathon tour of the Goodwill stores that were reasonably local and see if I could find any really good deals. After spending better than 4 hours driving from Goodwill to Goodwill, I had only found two things of much interest. At one, I found a purple skirt that I thought would look good on me and so I got it. In another Goodwill, I found three or four wedding dresses in sizes 16 and up, and a couple were actually quite pretty. Since I have been trading emails with a TG in the Denver area that I know is interested in getting a gown, I wrote down the address and sent that to her in an email. I had actually considered getting one of them for myself but thought that $50 was a bit much for something so frivolous AND I wasn’t sure I could fit it in my bag to carry it home anyway. I returned to my hotel at about 7PM after my Goodwill expedition and searched the internet to find that there was a local “lesbian” club called “Hers” that was supposed to be doing karaoke tonight. It was getting very cold outside and supposed to snow that night, and so I chose to wear my long black skirt with my blue sweater over a cute white top.

Denver 2010 03 024

Denver 2010 03 025

When I got to the club and was parking, I saw a very prominent sign saying something along the lines of “parking in the wrong area of this lot will cost you $250” so the first words out of my mouth to the bouncer at the door was “Is it OK to park near the wall of the bar?”  She just grinned and assured me that it would be just fine, and so I got my hand stamped, and continued on in. I couldn’t help noticing that although it was shortly after 9PM, the time karaoke was supposed to start, there was clearly no Karaoke going on, nor any equipment set up, so I asked one of the bartenders.
“I’m so sorry, but we wont be doing karaoke for a few weeks. We’re trying to save money to put up a porch for the summer time.” She told me.
“Hmm . . . well, do you happen to know of anyplace that is doing karaoke tonight?” I asked her.
“I don’t know, but I’ll ask around for you.” She said with a smile, and the turned away. I had just taken my first sip of my White Russian when I felt a tap on my shoulder and turned to see a large but pretty Hispanic woman behind me.
“You know, I just had to tell you that your necklace is cute!” she told me, with a huge smile. It is a sort of teardrop shaped pendant on a silver chain, and depending on the angle of the light hitting it, it reflects many different colors off of it, making it look as if it is shimmering between silver, gold, purple, green, and blue.
“Thank you! I just got it last week and was afraid that maybe it was a little big.” I told her. We traded a few more words and then she returned to her friends.  About this time, the bartender returns with a local paper in her hands.
“Well, it doesn’t look like anyone is doing karaoke tonight, but there are several places that have it on Monday nights.” She tells me, while pointing to the calendar of events  and locations in the paper..
“Well, that’s not gonna work, because I’m just here for work and leaving tomorrow morning, but I very much appreciate your going through so much effort to help me. Thank you so much!” I told her.
“No problem! So where are you . . . “ she started to ask me when a woman walks up to her, sort of exuding the “manager” vibe and interrupts her to point at two or three people in line waiting for drinks. She had been so busy trying to help me find someplace “friendly” to do karaoke that she had not noticed the other patrons waiting for her, so off she rushed to take care of them. Now alone, I had a moment to look around and so I started checking people out.

I’ve heard some other TG’s say that “lesbians don’t like us” but I’ve never found that to be true. Lesbians don’t mind us at all. What many of them do mind is when we hit on them and try to pick them up. Let’s face it, most of them are not in lesbian bars because they like men, not even effeminate men.
I know one should never make sweeping and all encompassing statements, but as a general rule most of the lesbians I’ve met were not what I would consider terribly attractive. There have been exceptions, don’t get me wrong, but most were fairly plain. It was with some surprise and interest then that I noticed that at least half of the women here were truly attractive and pretty. So there I sat in a room full of women and their friends, each chatting and laughing in their own little clicks, in a bar that wasn’t going to do Karaoke after all. . . . I was bored out of my mind. My choices appeared to be between sitting there by myself and drinking, or going back to my room and packing my stuff up for tomorrows return, so a little over an hour later every thing I had was packed and ready to go and I was drooling on my pillows. . .

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Guess where I went again?

Current mood:tired
....Detroit 2010 03 10 005 B

From now on, maybe I should just stop telling you where I’m going, and we’ll just assume it’s Detroit unless I say otherwise!  This trip came down with no advance warning at all – I literally found out I had to be on a plane at about 3:30 PM the night before. Something about a major customer, who owns a lot of our systems, with multiple problems, and one of the vice presidents of my company being involved. Let’s just say I was on a plane the next morning. On such short notice the only flights they could get me left at 6AM and were VERY expensive. I live almost an hour from the airport, have the policy of getting there 1.5 to 2 hours before my flights, and it takes me two hours to get made up. If you did the math, that means that my unhappy ass was outta bed at 2AM. Uggg. . .
It’s funny – these days I’m getting up even earlier than I did most of the time when I was in the Army. I suppose I could have got one more hour of sleep and just flown as a guy, but lets face it, getting up at 2AM or 3AM doesn’t really make much difference. Either way, it’s way too early in the morning for getting out of bed, and your gonna be miserable. Be miserable and bored spending the day drab, or get up an hour earlier and enjoy the trip a bit more.

Detroit 2010 03 10 001

So this time I’m wearing a long teal/green skirt I have recently found. It’s very 1980’s in style, though you can’t really tell it with my top covering the empire waist. I’d have to be honest that I really don’t think it’s terribly flattering, but I didn’t dislike it enough to look for something else. Maybe I should have though. It has two snaps on it, one above the other, and the top snap kept going “pop!” and coming loose. I suppose that’s what I get for stuffing my size 10 rear end into a size 8 skirt. Oh well, live and learn I guess . . .

Trying to save my company a little money, I chose the happy medium parking lot at the airport – the “Close in” lot. It’s close enough that you can just walk to the terminal and so the airport does not run a shuttle through it. I prefer this lot, because for the small price of a short walk, I avoid the hassle of hefting my heavy bags in and out of a shuttle bus. I noticed as I was parking my truck that there was an airport pickup truck driving through the parking lot and emptying the trash cans. As I parked and took my bags out of my truck, this service vehicle pulls up to me and the driver rolls down the window.
“Would you like a ride to the terminal ma’am?” he asks with a grin. I briefly imagine the scene of my hefting my bags in and out of the back of his truck, and then the awkward moment that would no doubt occur on the short drive when he realizes that I am TG. The thought makes me both smile and feel uncomfortable at the same time.
“I’ll walk, but thank you anyway!” I told him and headed off towing my bags behind me.

I checked in through the Delta counter and then made my way through the TSA security check point where the TSA guard looks up at me and grins.
“Mattie!” he exclaimed loudly “Where ya’ headed today?!”
“Detroit,” I told him with the best smile I could muster at 5AM.
“You sure fly a lot,” he says as he is shinning his little hand held black light at my ID. “And I see you have a new ID too.”
“Yeah, I guess I do travel a lot, but that’s what they pay me for!” then I pointed at the ID he has commented on. It has all of my legal male info on it, but has my Kimberly picture on it. “I like that ID a lot better than the older one.” This was of course referring to my male drivers license that I had used for about a year before getting this one. Then it struck me that he had said my name before I had handed him my ID. ‘Mattie??!!’ I thought to myself. Holly smokes – with the thousands of people that these guys deal with every day, this man has remembered my first name (Matt). In some ways, this actually made me a little uncomfortable. I’ve always taken a little comfort in the anonymity of dealing with strangers who will have no idea who the heck I am. Well, he may still be a stranger, but he DOES know my name. I suppose it makes no difference in the end, but still it’s interesting in its ramifications.

You know, I flew out of the Austin airport about once a week for over a year without attracting a lot of attention, but the last three or four flights, I’ve had small groups of TSA guards go out of their way to sneak a peak at me in the gate area. Please don’t bother to tell me that I’m paranoid and that it is all in my head. I’m in airports and on airplanes four to eight times a week for the last 8 years or so, so I think I’ve got a clue what’s normal and what’s not. Well, much as has happened on my last few flights from Austin, I was sitting in the gate area when a group of four TSA guards just happened to take a stroll around the relatively secluded area I had chosen to sit in. They weren’t quite as  blatant as the group that had done the same thing on my last flight out of Austin, but still, you could see them sneaking furtive peaks at me as they all filed past. One of them looked a bit sheepish when I busted him and our eyes met, so I just gave him a grin and went on about setting up my laptop to kill the time while I waited for the flight to board.

Since we set up this trip with so little notice, we found that Avis was all sold out, so I had to rent a car from National. I have to hand it to them though, they stepped up to the plate and treated me every bit as well as Avis does. I had to deal with their bus driver, and the people behind the counter, and they’re all just fantastic. I also had to stay at a less expensive hotel, because with such expensive flights, the lady that sets up my travel decided we should go a little cheaper than usual when it came to the hotel. I would have to admit to a little trepidation when I checked into the hotel because most of the staff appeared to be a middle eastern decent. I know that many cultures in the Middle East are very particular about the distinctions between a man and woman, but they all gave me warm smiles and treated me very nicely. A little after 14 hours after my day started, I found myself standing in the elevator next to a gentleman with a head full of long and graying hair. As he got out on the second floor, he paused just outside of the elevator for a moment, and then looked back at me.
“You look beautiful.” He said softly, clearly very sincere, and not in the least bit teasing. I was so surprised that it took me a moment to respond, and so he had already started to turn away when answered him.
“Thank you!”
Here I felt tired, exhausted, old, and ugly when he says something so kind to me. Do you think he knows that he made my entire day?