Monday, August 29, 2016

Denver to Tulsa to Indiana . . .

Big changes in our family/home life - my wife has taken a job! The sales manager from my company’s office in Austin quit about a year ago and went to work for a company that competes with mine for the repair business of our products. This is what we call a "mom and pop" repair shop. We aren’t in any danger of these little shops putting us out of the repair business, but they do tend to nibble away at our bottom line here and there. Well, a couple of weeks ago he called me from out of the blue and asked me if my wife was looking for a job, and if so, he had one for her. I told him that she wasn't looking but she might be interested as she had liked working for him in the past when she had done all of his orders and customer service when they had both worked at my company. With no intention of actually taking the job, my wife went in as a courtesy to this man and instantly fell in love with the small company atmosphere; she took the job! It turns out that almost everyone working there used to work for my company, and had left it when it got too big and went all corporate. She said it felt being back where she belonged again. So good news, my wife is outta the house and around other people again. Bad news, we still have two young children at home, so that's a bit of a concern and a headache! Oh, and yours truly is once again responsible for the household laundry since that is one of few family chores that can be set aside and piled up waiting for my return from working on the road. I'd forgotten how much laundry our family generates. Sigh. . .

This trip is a bit of a whirlwind! It was supposed to be my typical trip where I fly out on a Monday and fly back on a Wednesday, followed by more of the same the next week, but then one of my favorite customers in Tulsa OK called with a failure that was keeping them from doing their job. With just about any other customer, I would have put them in the queue and taken care of them with the next opening I had in my schedule. This customer has been awful good to me though, and has brought me up to perform preventative maintenance once or twice a year for almost a decade. When most people wait until their tools fail to call me, this company is truly responsible and tries to take care of their equipment so that it won’t fail. Let's just say I felt obligated to go above and beyond for a customer that had just last month paid me a fortune to PM their equipment, and so I agreed to take care of them over the weekend.
So my first stop is in the Denver area to work on a rare variety of our spectrometer that I've never seen before, then straight from there to Tulsa OK to take care of the customer I mentioned above over the weekend. I then go from there back to Columbus Indiana for a follow up visit with the new guy that I hired and trained there. Phew - I'm getting tired just writing about it!

I was surfing Facebook a night or two before I left for Denver and noticed a post from Amanda Farren saying that she was in Denver. I sent her a message and asked if she would still be there when I arrived, and if so, would she like to meet? Like a fool, she graciously accepted!

I used to make it a point to go out of my way to meet other TG's when I traveled, but to be honest, it was making me a nervous wreck. The anxiety involved in trying to schedule around work just got to be too much for me. Never knowing for sure when I'd be free, whether I might have to cancel, what kind of person I was agreeing to meet and were they going to be good people or something else. . . 
The vast majority of the experiences I've had meeting people have been overwhelmingly positive, but I've had a couple that I'd rather forget.
On one trip, I'd agreed to meet a State Trooper – I won’t say which state. He had expressed concern about being outted at his job and so I stupidly agreed to meet him at my hotel room. I gotta be honest, my hackles went up the moment he walked into the room - the guy gave me the creeps. I guess it was obvious because he ultimately asked me if he was making me nervous, and I lied like hell and said he wasn't. I was extremely uncomfortable until he at last took the not so subtle hints and left. Yep, right then and there I started my strict policy of never meeting anyone for the first time in a private place.
Another time, I had agreed to meet someone but couldn't get them to commit to a location. I kept asking "Where do you want to meet?" and not getting a reply to that simple question. At last, that evening came around, and all I got from them was an address. I decided to follow my instincts and declined the meeting at the last moment. Shortly after that, I received a text message telling me "Too bad! We have a great dungeon and you would have had a blast!"
"A GREAT DUNGEON?!" What the fuck, over?!

Believe it or not, I've always been a very shy person. You might not be able to tell that from my job, or from my blog, but most of that is kind of an act. Meeting anyone at any time makes me nervous and it always has, I just do my best to overcome and ignore this. When I first started working as a field service engineer and traveling to customer locations, I often couldn’t sleep the night before because I was so nervous about having to meet and work with people that I didn’t know.
So yeah, meeting people just got to the point where the extreme anxiety just wasn't worth it to me anymore, and I essentially stopped going out of my way to do it. The thing is, I'd been chatting with Amanda on Facebook forever and just couldn't see passing up the chance to meet her since the stars had aligned and put us both in the same place at the same time. 

I guess you could call me a part timer as I live most of my life as Matt, but I try to sneak every chance that I can get to be Kim when I am on the road. Amanda lives full time though, so I almost had a nervous breakdown trying to figure out what I should wear so that I wouldn't be over dressed, I wouldn't draw too much attention, and so that I wouldn't bring her any embarrassment. I finally got my outfit picked out, but screwed up my makeup by trying to be too much of a perfectionist. I should have stopped when I got it good enough, but no, I just had to keep messing with the eye shadow until I looked like a clown. . .


We met at a Texas Roadhouse for dinner. In person, Amanda looks exactly like her Facebook photos - beautiful. I've admired Amanda through the years for many reasons, mostly I suppose for her courage and attitude.  She had packed it all up one day in a nice southern state and headed to California to try and find her dream. Pretty much, she had done the exact opposite of what I had done when I had left California for the army. Reading her Facebook posts, it looked to me as if her life had its hardships, as do most, but she kept plowing through them while rarely complaining. She consistently tries to keep a positive attitude and I admire and respect that. To try and make a go of it while leaving behind everyone that you know, moving to California, and transitioning somewhere in that mix must take an incredible amount of courage. 
Amanda had brought her friend Jessica with her and we all three talked about pretty much everything and nothing for a few hours. I guess these two had known each other forever and had moved across the country together.
As we socialized, I kept hearing my damn phone ringing in my purse. I was on call for our afterhours tech support line, and this is usually a pretty quiet job with only rare calls received. Not tonight though, because they were really lighting my phone up. When I finally checked it, I had a long list of missed calls that I would have to return before someone at my company started to notice that the calls were not being taken as they should be. I HATE being on call. It is theoretical "voluntary" but it is well understood that it is about as voluntary as breathing. Sure you can decide not to breath, but just try it and see how well it works out for you in the long run.

The next night I ate dinner at an Italian place called Cinzzettis. Jessica had mentioned it the night before, spoke well of it, and so I gave it a whirl. It's a buffet with Italian food and pasta! I love pasta and so this seemed like an awesome idea to me! I'm not sure if this was a dress up kind of restaurant or not (that's not something I'd typically associate with a buffet) but I couldn't help noticing that almost every woman in the place was dressed to the nines. I was just starting my second plate of pasta and had a mouth full of food as an absolutely beautiful young woman in a dress and heels walked past me and triggered all of my complexes at once. Suddenly my pasta tasted like hay in my mouth, and I felt like a fat cow chewing on my cud. I guarantee you that that woman didn't get and keep her figure by getting multiple well stacked plates of pasta in one meal. Yeah, I wasn't hungry anymore. . .

I'm kind of stuck with long skirts or pants because I totally buggered up my knee while bike riding with my daughter. We were out on a bike ride when she started to complain that her handle bars had shifted, and so we stopped so that I could take a look. It turns out that her handle bars were loose and flopping around, and I didn't have any tools with us to work on it. I told her I didn't think it was safe for her to ride, so I gave her my bike and I took hers. Yeah, not ten minutes later I took my first header off of a bicycle in about 35 years and had a nicely bleeding hole in my knee to document it. So yeah, I'm thinking there will be no short skirts in my near future.

At the risk of bragging, I have to say that I was really pleased with the outfit I wore from Denver to Tulsa Oklahoma. It was one of my favorite long skirts, with matching top, complimentary shoes that had some of the same colors in them, and toe nail polish that was exactly the right shade. Probably one of the best jobs I've ever done of making everything work together. The only problem is that the skirt is a little too big, and so at one point while I was wrangling with my bags at the rental car shuttle bus, I ended up with it sliding half way off of my ass end. Yepper, that would have been a hell of a thing to drop your skirt around your ankles right there in front of everyone who was waiting for the shuttle bus. . .


  1. Wow..I would have loved to try and meet in look gorgeous..

  2. I remember meeting you for the first time and how nervous we both were:

    And Amanda is AMAZING!!!!