Tuesday, February 3, 2015

It was fun!

The convention was fun…     As always., there were lots of seminars and activities…plus some sightseeing.   And, of course, working at the registration desk and socializing.  Plus, yours truly enjoyed a short sightseeing tour with the girls.  

For the week, my attire was androgynous – denim leggings, tunic sweaters/tops with black tights or nude pantyhose, purse and flats (or ankle boots).  I didn’t wear makeup at all, though I wore Mom’s necklace and bracelet the whole time, and her stirrup leggings one day at the hotel.    Following is my typical attire...in front of the classic Reno sign.

 Me, under the legendary Reno sign...

Where else but out west, could one find scenery as brilliantly spectacular as the following  examples?   Certainly not from 37,000 feet!   It takes a train (or as in the second pic below, a touring coach).

 Rugged landscape at Sunrise...

                                                                                         From a bus tour into the Sierra Nevada mountains.

More snow-capped peaks in the Sierras.

I spent a lot of time at the registration desk, and most of the attendees knew me.   Few, if any, of the attendees specifically "miss-identified" me…I was simply addressed by my first name (which was on my name badge for those who didn't know me.)  That was expected.   What wasn’t expected: the number of times that restaurant wait staff, hotel staff and others often (I didn't count, but probably in excess of 75% of the time) referred to me as “Ma’am” - even in the presence of other attendees and my friends.   

Six things truly surprised me from this excursion:

1.  None of my friends within earshot questioned when others used female forms of address for me.  That issue seemed to be ignored by everyone.   Do they just tolerate my appearance?  Are they secretly suspicious that "something is going on?"  Or do they just assume that it’s my hair, nails and purse, or my "now female" first name, which confuses people?  I guess I’ll find out someday, if someone is forward enough to broach the subject.  If not, I may never know….

2.  In the elevator at the hotel, an unknown woman  (who was with her husband at the time) took an immediate interest in my flats.  She asked me to tell her about them, so I fell into the conversation in my best (but none too good) female voice.   And the husband didn’t think anything of it…we were just two women doing girl talk.

3.  One of the local female convention staffers (someone I hadn’t known previously) was at the registration table when I took the seat beside her, to pitch in.  We weren’t officially introduced, but she seemed to recognize my true gender despite my first name.  Before long, though, something changed.   We were both chatting and laughing about things, just like a couple of girls.   Passers-by (who were not part of our group) almost always said “good morning, ladies.”   And she finally opened up to me, talking about a man who hit on her the night before, once the registration desk had closed. (I couldn't defend his actions....the guy sounded like a real scumbag, looking for a free one-night-stand.)  Before the convention was over, she and a girlfriend took me out for a short sightseeing ride around town,  which is where my picture (with the Reno sign above) was obtained.

4.   I still marvel that I can often be interpreted as a woman, even when I’m not attempting to dress and not wearing makeup.  For example, waitstaff at restaurants, and train crews.  However,  on the way home, the crew on the one Amtrak train we ride a lot recognized me from our previous trips (that's why I'm careful where I dress), and I heard the dreaded "S" word a lot.  Ugh.

5.   It was a bit of a shock that two different female attendees (well-known to me) wanted to talk about my relatively long nails, since mine were longer than theirs and they saw that I was typing successfully.

6.   Perhaps the most surprising thing was that one male attendee (also well-known to me), was very quiet at this meeting...didn't talk to me very much.  This was the man who (perhaps intentionally?) addressed me as "Ma'am" at one point in last summer's meeting.  Interesting.  More on this as it develops...

Although I was mightily disappointed that the “girlcation” part of my trip had to be canceled, during the convention I discovered that several attendees who know both my wife and me, would have been on the trains from Reno to LA.   And one would have been in the same sleeper as me on the train from LA toward New Orleans.  Good thing I found out - talk about the big surprise of walking into the station or onto the train in a dress, and finding one or more well-known friends there, or worse yet, in the same car.  This would NOT have been a good thing, and would have been a disastrous involuntarily outing.   It seems like things always work out for the best...

But in one grand affirmation of my femininity (despite hearing that dreaded "S" word on the prior train):  as I was detraining from the commuter train in Baltimore, the female conductor asked "Young lady, can I help you with your bag?"  At that point I already was lifting it out myself, so I replied "no thanks, hon, but I really appreciate the offer!"  (In "Bawlmer" anyone can call anyone of either gender "hon" without offense...)  Now, I'm not at all young, but I was extremely pleased about the "young lady" part., a big first!  And to think, I was even dressed androgynously....unfortunately, wearing a dress wouldn't have been appropriate that day, either!

All in all, a fine finish to a wonderful excursion!   And I look forward to going on another someday soon....



  1. Mandy -

    Your experiences are proving what I've been saying for a while - gender is as much a social construct as it is a physical construct. By sending out feminine cues, you are treated as a female by people who don't know you. As long as you don't exercise male privilege, you are accepted in the female role, even though you are sending off a larger number masculine cues than the average female does. (Height, broadness of shoulders, non defined waist, etc.....)


    1. That seems to be the case...and much to my wife's chagrin, I'm sure.

      Though she hasn't minded the fact that, as two women traveling together, we get help from men that we may not have gotten otherwise, I suspect she just tolerates the many "miss-identifications." But I love them!

      In this case, I guess it's a good thing she wasn't traveling with me...


  2. It sounds like you had great trip out and back. Reno is a great town...not to big or small with lots of things going for it and some spectacular views of the surrounding mountains. I am curious as to the type of convention and to why there were so many people traveling by rail.

    Our vacation to Florida was very nice. Since my wife was warm and relaxed I was able to wear pantyhose under my slacks without socks just about every evening and I also wore a bra a good deal of the time...often with a set of breat forms. I brought two sets of forms...the little chicken cutlets that just bulge out a bit and the larger forms that do give me a fuller feminine figure.

    On the trip down I wore the pantyhose and bra the entire time. Even after arrival in Sanford we drove to Vero Beach for lunch on the way to our destination in Jensen Beach. By this time it was hot and all I had on over my bra was a polo shirt and my wife asked me to take out the forms since they were not quite evident.

    We delayed the ride home due to weather but got a deluxe room for less than the price we paid for the roomette on the way down. I boarded the train in pantyhose with no socks and my bra already on. We chose the later meal service so we had over 3 hours to spend before dinner and since AMTRAK has stopped the wine and cheese we brought our own for the room. Since we had some privacy my wife was OK with me shedding my slacks and putting on a blue denim skirt and my black 3" pumps. I also put on a woman's blue tank top with the larger breast forms in my bra and was able to ride for several hours before I had to change back for dinner. I really enjoyed sitting there dressed as we watched the scenery and then the sun set pass by. I did not add makeup or a wig since we would be seated with others at dinner and I figured I was already stretching the envelop to a reasonable degree.

    Take care. I wish we could have stayed longer but I am now back to work.


    1. Hi Pat,

      In answer to your question, railroads typically go downtown to downtown, thus taking the train minimizes transportation headaches upon arrival...plus, the group of friends are known to all as "railfans!"

      That same general reason is why the train from Reno to Sacramento, Sacramento to LA, and LA to New Orleans (that I didn't ride) would have worked so very well. Night-of-arrival hotels were all within walking distance (or if needed, very short cab rides) of the train station. Sure beats a surprise $50 limo ride or a $100 Blue Van ride...when you're on a budget!

      Glad you got some semi femme time...the bigger room helps with being able to change comfortably. Even though I was alone in the smaller room, since I can't handle the upper bunk like I can on the viewliner, I had to use the shower room for changing. That does help...a lot! Glad your wife was OK with your semi-dressing...did she have any comments? Pantyhose do feel nice! Putting on makeup would have been an exercise in futility unless done at stops...and even then, would have been hard to completely remove for dinner.

      Sunsets from a train are incredible, aren't they? With every turn, the view changes.

      I heard they removed the lounge car because it's an energy hog and the generator was maxed out. That lets them add at least one and maybe two additional revenue cars...plus car carriers. Wonder if it's true?

      Getting back to work is always a chore...glad it's one I'm done with!

      Take care, and be safe...


    2. She did have a few comments but they were somewhat good natured. When going to dinner several nights I wore light beige ladies flats that were clearly womans shoes with tassel and they showed a lot more of my pantyhose clad foot. She was concerned that when I crossed my legs that my pantyhose and ladies flat would be easily seen. I told her that I am always conscious of who is around and what they might see but that most people simply will not notice anything out of the ordinary. Since we would only be meeting strangers she let me have my fun.

      On the train our room had a nice almost full length mirror. She pointed out to me that my bra strap was showing outside of my tank top. As older folks we are of a school of thought that a lady does not let her undies show and that showing a bra strap can be deemed a bit trashy for our age. We both got a nice chuckle out of that and I tucked the strap under the tank top.

      I do think that the lounge car may have cost energy and they could replace it with an additional passenger car and/or car carrier. On the way down I think there was at least one extra passenger car/sleeper on the train. In talking to the staff I was advised that each lounge car needed a staff of 5 people and that because they cut the number from 2 to 1 that five people lost their shifts on each run. AMTRAK, as you know, has to deal with lots and lots of union rules and thism may have been one way to save money. The thing is that the Auto train is one of the lines that makes money and is always in the black and it is other AMTRAK runs that are in the red.


    3. It certainly appears that you are making great strides in gaining your wife's acceptance. That's wonderful! Hopefully it will continue, and move forward to dressing with her a bit closer to home! Please keep us advised.

      I don't foresee any change any time soon, in the concept of "milking the cash cow Auto Train" to the "n'th degree" to help pay for deficits in other trains. There may be no other way to do it at this point, with the situation in Washington.

      But in the national budget-making process, federal legislators need to remember that there are reportedly no intercity passenger railroads in industrialized nations, which actually return profits to their government. All are subsidized, in the name of the public good. In many countries, the railroads have been nationalized, with the tracks being owned by the government. In the USA, railroads generally own and maintain their rail lines, with certain exceptions (company-owned branch lines and the Amtrak Northeast Corridor, to name a couple.)

      Airlines, trucking companies, ship owners,etc., operate on facilities owned by others. They own airplanes, trucks, ships, and so on. Airlines own no airports and do not operate towers or air traffic control systems. Trucking companies own no roads or highways. Ship companies generally own no rivers, canals or waterways.

      Instead, think "free or nearly so" access to municipality-owned airports, interstate and local highways and bridges paid for by the public, access to locks and rivers (built, dredged and maintained at taxpayer expense by the Corps of Engineers or other political entities) and port facilities typically owned by cities/states.

      I cast a jaundiced eye toward the signs on the back of the trailers on the highway that say something to the effect that "this vehicle pays $3,000 a year in use taxes." Some have said in the past, that the huge, heavy multiple trailers on the road nowadays cause substantially more infrastructure damage than that, per year...particularly when overloaded.

      Is there an equitable solution? If I knew that answer, I'd be living in a fancy condo in DC for part of the year, and have one of those high-paying jobs with the limitless pensions, and great free health benefits, that we, the taxpayers, provide our legislators.

      I just hope there IS an equitable solution, not an arbitrary "whack this or that."

      End of rant.

      Be safe,


    4. It is hard to dispute your rant. It just galls me to see the waste and abuse that are done at taxpayer expense. My wife noted that we had one of the better auto train crews on this run down with many of the AMTRAK people pleasant and helpful but the dinner meal server is a woman we have had on several prior trips and we have never seen her smile and she is barely responsive to our requests and when we ask she seems to resent being asked to do her job. My wife feels that if she is lucky enough to have a job like working on the Auto train that she should be always smiling.

      We know that the Auto train travels on tracks owned by CSX and that their freight runs will take priority over the Auto train. We have found things work best when we travel on the weekend. On the way down we were slightly early and on the way back we were an hour early.
      My commute to work yesterday and today was slowed since the Metro North accident. There are only two roads that I can take and one of them was closed near the location of the accident. I suspect that many commuters chose to drive to stations past the accident and this added cars to the road.

    5. I found one of the car attendants on my excursion to be absolutely exemplary. He did more than required, helped with the bags, and bent over backwards to make sure everything was right...including cleaning toilets and emptying wastebaskets in the bathrooms. Plus he was available at any time, day or night - even slept in most of his uniform.

      That guy got a big cash tip - not only from me, also from others. You could see the cash flowing into his hand...

      Then there were two other attendants on two different trains. We carried our own bags on the train, and they didn't hesitate to tell the passengers to get him to make their beds up before 9 (in one case) or 9:30 (the other case...) because they went off duty at 9:30.

      That loud noise I heard was George M. Pullman (early industrialist and inventor of the Pullman sleeping car in 1857) rolling over in his grave...

      On one train, I complied. But because we were late coming back from dinner on the other train, and missed his 9:30 deadline, I had to team up with the woman in the room across the hall to put her (and my) bed down - the mechanisms were stiff and needed lube. The lady held the levers while I climbed on the seats to force them to move. Plus, I pulled down the mattress from the upper for her. (I joked with her that I didn't want to break a nail, so I was glad for her help!)

      The next morning I got up early and rang for the attendant to make up the room when I went to breakfast. A crew member sleeping in the next room came out and told me that "he comes on duty at 7 so don't expect a response to the bell...you might as well turn it off.: Which I did. And I piled the mattress up in a heap on one seat in the down position, so I could put the other one up and sit down. What a mess I left him.

      The crowning blow was that I (or in one case a gentleman helped) carried my bags off the train. Definitely not first class service for a first class price. I'm hoping that eventually I get a trip questionnaire...LOL.

      For both of those attendants, instead of a cash tip, I had a verbal one. "You need to find a new line of work...one more suited to your talents."
      If looks could kill, I'd be dead now. Made my wife's "stink eye" look like a friendly, loving gaze.

      Without a doubt, if I were 10 years younger, I'd apply for their job...and have fun doing it! If a customer didn't know the way it should be, though, they might think that's normal service. And it's certainly not the way it's supposed to be...

      George M. Pullman would be aghast.


    6. You should travel with my wife. I think that one of the highlights is when she does get the survey and she can tell what is good and bad. i know she will say good things about the car attendant but she will be honest in her views about the food server and the decreasing amenities.

    7. Telling it like it is works best...the only way to do it!

  3. Hi Mandy, I agree with Marian.
    I believe in an inside "Aura" we send out to the world which goes a long way in deciding the instant "gender" determination they make!
    Your "undies" are showing!!!!