Friday, May 7, 2010

Renee to the Rescue!

Detroit 2010 05 009

And I’m off to Detroit yet again. I’m spending so much time there these days that I am scared my company will try and force me to move there. Given the condition that my house is in, to include the defunct but not yet fully demolished swimming pool, I see no way in hell I could sell my house, so the whole thought scares the hell outta me. With all due respect to those who live there, I also just can’t see raising my children in Detroit . . .

As usual, I was up at 2:45AM to get ready and out the door. Not much point to dwelling on that as I’ve already beat that horse to death on prior blogs. I suppose the one good point about it is that here isn’t much chance my neighbors are gonna be out and about at 4:30AM when I’m getting in to the car.

Detroit 2010 05 001

I had a good laugh as I put my wig on and faced the mirror. My hair looked like Albert Einstein had inspired it, with most of it pointing straight out from my head like a porcupine. Believe it or not, that’s kind of a good thing as I want it to have that full bodied look when I was done with it. Still, it took me a good five or ten minutes to get it looking reasonable and then I was off for the airport!

Checking in with US Airways this morning, the young lady behind the counter checked my bags in, then handed me my claim checks. She started to give me her standard speech for customers.
“Your leaving out of gate 20. You can go through security there . . . “ she says, while pointing at the security line, but then she pauses. “You know what? I think you know the way.” she finishes with a grin. That gave me a pretty good laugh.
“Yes ma’am – been there and done that!” I told her with a wave as I grabbed my things and headed off for security.

The TSA inspector that checked my ID and tickets passed me through and then left his post to step over to another TSA inspector who was watching the people in line for the X-ray machines. He walked up to this other guy, stood in close, and whispered in his ear. I see the guy he is talking to take a good look at me and then I hear him say “Yeah, I know,” in a bored tone, clearly unexcited and unimpressed with the entire deal. I’m not sure if they were yapping about me or not, and given that I was in a bit of a foul mood that morning, I really didn’t care. Wouldn’t you think that I would be old news to these guys by now?

I was wearing a relatively new pair of shoes with a mostly black and red plaid pattern and through out the day I received at least seven compliments on them. I still have to wonder of women actually go out of their way to compliment each others shoes, of if women just go out of their way to compliment a cross dressers shoes. As I was waiting in line to hand the gate agent my ticket, a gentleman about my own age, maybe a little older, looked at my shoes and then started talking to me.
“You know those are great shoes!” he says with a smile, and then he continues after a small pause. “It’s too bad that guys can’t wear them. . . well, at least not outside of Hollywood anyway.”  I just laughed and thanked him, but on the way down the jet bridge I thought of at least three cute replies I should have given him. Oh well . . .
Still thinking of the things I could have said, and how he might have reacted, I boarded the plane and was walking past the flight attendant when she startled me by grabbing my arm.
“Honey, I’ve got to tell you that those shoes are gorgeous!” she said, with just a hint of awe in her voice that made it clear I was in the presence of someone that appreciates cute shoes.
“Thank you! They are pretty adorable aren’t they?!” I replied and gave her a wink. With a lot of people stopped and waiting behind me though, that was were the conversation ended.

A couple of hours later my flight landed in Charlotte where I was to catch my connecting flight on to Detroit. I had a couple of hours to kill so I decided to grab a lunch at the Burger King right across from my gate. I HATE eating salads, but I try to force myself to do it every once in a while because they are good for you and good for your figure, so that’s what I tried to order.
“I’m sorry but we don’t have any salads right now.” The young man behind the counter told me. Then he leaned a bit closer to me and spoke softly. “But they do have salads right next door.”  I thanked him for the tip, went to the shop next door and got myself a chicken salad, and had just sat down to eat it when a older gentleman mopping the floor stops to speak to me.
“Those shoes are very nice, I had no idea they came in that style.” He told me.
“Thank you!” I replied with a grin. “Aren’t they great? And they do seem to be kind of popular today!”
“Well, they are very pretty.” He said with a genuine smile and then returned to his work.

I got another smile when I discovered that Avis had my car waiting for me right where the bus drops you off. It’s kind of cute that they have apparently decided to treat me as a VIP. I wonder if it is because I’m “the cross dresser” of if it’s because I rent one or two cars a week from Avis? All I know is that none of the other Avis facilities go to that kind of effort for me. I was a little disappointed to see that the friendly lady I often chat with at the exit gate wasn’t working, but even though I didn’t recognize the guy that was there, he clearly recognized me.
“I know you’re here a lot, so I’m not even gonna axe you if you need directions.” He said with a smile as he handed me my contract and opened the gate.

When I arrived at the Crowne Plaza hotel, the beautiful woman behind the counter looked up at me with a huge smile.
“Well hello and welcome back!” she said.
“Thank you. This is sort of my home away from home these days isn’t it?” I told her with a laugh. “And if not this hotel, then I am in one of your hotels somewhere else in the country every week!”
Once in my room, I started to unpack my things and get them hung up so that they would not be terribly wrinkled when I wanted to wear them. I always do this first, in part to be very sure that I have all of the male clothing that I will need for the following work day. If I forgot something critical, like oh, say, male shoes, I wanna know while I’m still presentable and dressed to go get some. Well, it turns out that I have all of the clothing that I needed, but I forgot the power supply to my laptop at home. Normally this would be just an inconvenience and would have only resulted in my not being able to surf the web in the evening, but this time my laptop is critical to the service call I’m on. My customers complaint is that the data acquisition intervals of our Mass Spec have become erratic. I’m certain that the problem is with their PC or network, but I will need to run it with my laptop to prove it. Now the problem is that my laptop runs at a lower performance when operating on battery power so I really needed to have it plugged in. The one and only time I’ve ever forgotten it, and I absolutely need it. Go figure . . .
I was going meet with Renee for dinner again and so when she picked me up I asked her if she knew of a place to get a power supply. She told me that there was a Comp USA not far from where we were going to eat dinner and so we headed there first and were dismayed to find that it had apparently gone out of business some time ago and was empty and closed up tight. Not to worry though because she also knew where to find a Best Buy and so we hit the freeway again. I didn’t notice any grins or looks as the two of us entered and shopped the store. After a moment of looking around on our own, a customer service rep offered to help, and took us directly to the only model they had that would work with my laptop. I wanted to scream in frustration when I saw the price tag of $100 but I really didn’t have any choice. That’s a lot of money to spend because I did something stupid, but it wouldn’t be as bad as being unable to do the job my company had already spent over $1000 getting me to Detroit for, so I bought the damned thing.

Detroit 2010 05 017

Now with the power supply purchased and my ability to do my job the following day assured, we headed of to PF Chang’s for dinner. During our drive from the store to the restaurant, I had bragged to Renee about all of the comments I had received that day on my shoes, and so we both had a laugh when the first thing our waitress did was to tell me how cute they were. She was a cute young lady, not exactly a beauty queen (pardon the pun) but pretty, and with a happy and kind of bubbly personality that made her very comfortable to talk to. The three of us chatted a little off and on, and when I threatened to steal her ear rings, that set off a whole conversation between her and Renee about shopping in the area. All in all it was a very pleasant evening with Renee’s good company, but I had started my day off very early in the day and so we called it a night fairly early.

The following day I headed off for my customer to earn my paycheck, and in less than five minutes of getting in front of their system and computer, I had proven that the problem was on their end. Our instrument communicates with the computer by using he LAN connection – the same cable that you use to connect to your company network or your cable modem at home. Instead of using the computers on-board network adapter, they were using a USB to Network converter and I knew the instant I saw it that it was going to be the source of our delay in communication. The lady that was escorting me was their company’s expert on our infrared mass specs, and she had been asked to work with me because of her knowledge, but she was not the owner and user of the instrument. I’ve spoken to her many times and every single time I’ve been deeply impressed with her knowledge and with her ability to intelligently trouble shoot a problem.
As soon as I saw the adapter I grinned and pointed it out to her.
“I’ll bet you lunch right now that this thing is your problem.” I told her.
“I told them over and over that I thought that USB adapter was the problem but they refused to listen to me! What do I know though, I’m just a stupid woman!” she said, just dripping sarcasm. Still laughing, I unplugged the PC from their onboard network adapter and plugged our instrument directly in to it and configured it to speak to our instrument instead of their network. As soon as I brought our software up and running, it was very quickly evident that the problem had been solved and our instrument was happily logging data at it’s specified speed. It just struck her that they had just paid over $2,000 to get me there when it had only taken 5 minutes to resolve and all I’d had to do was swap two cables on their computer. She shook her head and then buried it in her hands.
“I’ll bet they’re gonna wish they had listened to the ‘dumb girl’ now, aren’t they?” I told her with a grin. I sometimes worry about being to flippant with a customer and so I was gratified when she busted out in honest laughter and patted me on the back.
“Well, since we paid for your four hour minimum I’m not letting you get away that easy! Let’s go take a look at all of the other instruments and make sure that there are no other issues.” She said, and so we did. Seven hours later we had located and evaluated all of their instruments and had even found one that did need some work. She laughed as she told me she was glad we had found something wrong because that meant they hadn’t wasted their money in bringing me out.

By happy coincidence, this was not only Wednesday, but it was the ‘every other’ Wednesday that GiGi’s has a primarily TG night, and so Renee and I decided we would go be sociable! I decided to wear my long hair tonight and so I removed it from my bag and started trying to make it presentable. I got it looking more or less the way I liked and started looking for my hair spray. . . and looking . . . and looking . . .
“DAMN IT!” I yelled to no one in particular. I had forgotten my dog gone hair spray too! I must have had my head well and truly up my backside when I left my home. Horribly embarrassed, I called Renee.
“Umm, have you, uh, left your house yet?”
“No, I was just heading out the door though”
“I can ask you for another favor?”
After a slight pause she replied “Sure?”
“If you have any, would you bring some hair spray? Apparently I forgot that too!”
“Sure I will.” She replied as soon as she stopped laughing. At this point Renee must be absolutely convinced that I’m a complete idiot. Soon enough, Renee arrived with hairspray, which I took from her while blushing heavily in embarrassment. Hair suitably primped, teased, and hair sprayed, once again all was well with the world.

Detroit 2010 05 018

Detroit 2010 05 024

Detroit 2010 05 025

Detroit 2010 05 030

I had been to GiGi’s several times in the past, but always on a Monday or some other day where they weren’t very busy and I had been the only TG there. In other words, it had bored the hell outta me. Tonight though, there were about 10 of us there, and many of them were participating in a lip syncing show. Every one of them turned out to be quite friendly and the vast majority made it a point to come by and introduce themselves at one point or another. I am not a real big fan of lip syncing, but most of the songs were good ones that I liked, and so I did enjoy the music.
A couple of the ladies were absolutely gorgeous. One of the them, I later found out her name was Jessica, was tall and skinny and she went out of her way to come spend time talking with us.

Detroit 2010 05 040

“God I wish I were as skinny as you are.” I told her with a sigh.
“Why? I’m not that skinny!” She replied.
“The hell you aren’t! Your one of those girls the rest of us all hate! You know – the skinny bitch!” I told her and we all laughed.
“Well if you hate me now, just wait until you see my next outfit!”  and sure enough, her next outfit was a real stunner . . .

Detroit 2010 05 079

About mid way through our evening a guy came and sat down next to me. As I am talking to Renee, I can see the guy staring at my legs over and over and he is just starting to make me uncomfortable when he finally speaks.
“Hi. I just have to say that you look awesome – very pretty.” He says.
“Thank you very much! I was kind of trying for the pretty thing.” I told him with a smile and then turned to resume my conversation with Renee when I feel his hand on my arm. I turned to face him again.
“So why aren’t you getting up there?” he asks while pointing at the stage.
“Oh no, I don’t lip sync.” I told him with a laugh and then turned again to face Renee, and again he puts his hand on my arm to turn me back toward him.
“Why not? Are you shy or something or will your boyfriend be jealous?” he pressed.
“I don’t have a boyfriend – I’m married.”
“Where is your husband?”
“I don’t have a husband, I have a wife.”
At this point he stopped talking so I once again turned to resume my conversation with Renee, and I’ll be damned if this guy doesn’t reach out and pull on my arm to turn me around again.
“So, does your wife not like it when you sing or something?”
This is the third time he interrupted our conversation, and the third time he has tugged on my arm, so I am pretty much done with being nice.
“My wife couldn’t care less if I sing. Why don’t YOU get up there?” I asked with out even a hint of humor. This time when I turned around he left me alone.

When the evening was gone, and I was back in my hotel, I sat there for a good ten minutes staring at my things and trying to decide if I was going to fly home pretty the next day or not. Ultimately I decided to go drab since I couldn’t dredge up the slightest bit of enthusiasm for getting up early enough to fly pretty.

Here are a few odds and ends from the evening:

Detroit 2010 05 062 Detroit 2010 05 068 Detroit 2010 05 073 Detroit 2010 05 033 Detroit 2010 05 039 Detroit 2010 05 043 Detroit 2010 05 051 Detroit 2010 05 056

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