Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Radical Travel: To The OAH Annual Meeting and Beyond

I hope to be filing regular updates from the Seattle Sheraton Hotel over the next five days during the annual meeting of the Organization of American Historians. So far the trip has been uneventful. In other words, I am still in Big Regional Airport, but my plane appears to be on time and Dunkin' Donuts was not out of cinnamon raisin bagels. The only glitch was mine. Coming through security it appeared, for an unpleasant few minutes, that I had lost my driver's license in between the desk where I had presented it for examination and the station where luggage is searched and X-rayed. Clearly I would make my plane in plenty of time, but returning from Seattle without identification could be an issue. As I frantically rifled my pockets and waved people ahead of me, the TSA guard on duty snarled, "Move along!"

"I can't," I explained. "I seem to have lost my identification."

"Well, what do you expect me to do about it," she snapped, even more unpleasantly. Ummm, nothing, I thought irritably, realizing that this was one of those moments where a response in kind could end in a strip search and a missed plane. Just then a voice from behind me whispered, "Well, it looks like Girlfriend missed the courtesy training. Can I help you?" It was a lovely gay boy in the uniform of a Northwest Airlines flight attendant, who helped me go through everything methodically until the missing ID appeared. I realize that many of you will think this is a coincidence, but in fact it is evidence for what both queer people and the Christian Right know: that We Are Everywhere, We Recognize Each Other, and We Come To Each Other's Assistance. This is a true fact.

But back to the OAH. Those who wish to see the Radical in scholarly mode should present themselves tomorrow at 10:30 at her panel, and probably at the blogging panel as well where I may, in fact, contribute to the event by live blogging it if the hotel internet connection permits. Otherwise, the usual rules apply: readers are commanded to identify themselves at any and all opportunities.


Dateline, Detroit Airport, 11:21 AM I used to avoid the Detroit airport like the plague, and of course now it is impossible to do so since you can't get a direct flight to the West Coast from Big Regional. But in my absence, this facility has been transformed. Forget running down the concourse like a maniac: not only have they installed moving sidewalks, but there is a lovely electric air tram. Gone are the moldy carpets of my youth, replaced by stainless steel and polished floors. Gone the cruddy little news stands, replaced by Borders (two on the A concourse alone), massage bars, wine shops and lovely restaurants. OK, not lovely perhaps, but not all McDonalds and Chilis Too. I am blogging from a Jose Cuervo Tequilaria: briefly considered a marguerita, but decided that beginning to drink before you even get to the OAH is probably the beginning of the Road to Hell.

While the shopping in Detroit is not quite as nice as in, say, Minneapolis or Philadelphia, there are a few nice stores, including several where you can buy sports gear that reference the many college and professional teams of Michigan. Note to self: if Margaret Soltan started receiving D-I tee shirts anonymously from airports around the country, how long would it take her to figure out that it was me?


Anonymous said...

TR -- I'm sure you feel the way I do and don't mind that we have to go through all the security just so we can make sure we do not have a repeat of 9/11, BUT why on earth are the TSA personnel so nasty!!!! I think part of their training is How to Irritate Travelers 101. One day when we meet (I hope one day that can happen!), you will see that I am a happy go-lucky person that says hello with a smile to everyone and I thank everyone with a smile -- even those nasty TSA folks! Why can't these folks just be nice and be happy they have a job instead making themselves look miserable?! Oh, I also LOVE the ones that think they are so powerful because they work for TSA -- LOL

Anonymous said...

Gay boy to the rescue from Northwest brought back the happy memory of a gay boy who rented us a "truck" upgrade when they were out of smaller heterosexual cars.
Ah dykes and gay boys helping each other, what a wonderful world.

Anonymous said...

Detroit still has the quality of terminal you remember for the distaff airlines (i.e. not Northwest). I know it well, since that's where Frontier flies into DTW. I think they're doing at least a remodel, if not tearing down that old terminal soon.

For the record: every TSA employee I've dealt with at Denver International Airport has been incredibly patient and courteous. While I don't think the encounter you describe was very cool, I will say that I'm amazed that the TSA screeners I encounter remain reasonably cheerful and functional while giving the same commands to clueless travelers over and over and over again. Is there such thing as repetitive stress injury of the brain caused by repeating yourself again and again? I think it's pretty hard work, albeit in a climate-controlled environment without much heavy lifting.

See you later!

Adam said...

Free Internet at the Hilton on 6th Street can be your friend, here at the OAH in Seattle. Lobby way upstairs, Internet free.

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