I started packing a bag on Sunday night when I got the phone call from my boss – with the incoming blizzard in the northeast, once we were in Monday, we were at work until Wednesday, at least. We had talked about it before, but now it was reality. Due to the kitchen we work in being located in a major power company building, when all the crews cleaning up and working in the snow come for their assignments (some coming from as far as Canada with their giant trucks), we have to feed them.
So we were stuck. Three feet of snow was on the way, and 6 people had to feed an expected 500-600 people a day, 24 hours a day. Now what?
This is a tough situation to begin with. Everybody worked 13-hour shifts, and had to sleep wherever they could fit their cot and sleeping bag with the 8 to 9 hour breaks we got. I “slept” in the dish washing room i work in the first night. I found an empty storage room the second, after not sleeping the first. We knew we’d all end up exhausted and grumpy, and just tried to make the best of it.
But what about me? With the added stress of being trans, I had some additional things to worry about that make me not eager to repeat this experience any time soon.
Privacy and gendered spaces become even more complicated than usual when around way more people than usual, most who are not familiar with you. Bathrooms are always an issue, for one. I use the men’s room, because sacrificing a little dignity is preferable to possibly losing my job right now. If my boss let me choose which to use it wouldn’t be an issue, but the building we work in controls that, and I’m not ready for that fight. Usually it’s not a big issue. I go when people are less likely to be there, and I tried to do the same in this situation. One notable incident was when I was brushing my teeth at 4 am before a shift. An older man walked in, saw me, walked out, and checked to make sure he was in the right bathroom before coming back in. Awkward.
But even more awkward was the shower situation. My boss instructed me to use whichever locker room I felt more comfortable in, to my surprise. I don’t know if he had the authority to back it up if there was a problem. I was going to just not shower, but event eventually I caved. I once again opted for the men’s and tried to pick off-times, because once again, i felt like if something were to happen, my situation would be uncomfortable, but better than being seen as a male in a women’s locker room for obvious reasons. But that meant I had to be careful about covering my breasts, which are obviously not male anymore, but not fully developed as female, either.
The other uncomfortable issue I faced was having to work with someone corporate sent to help that I haven’t seen in a long time. I thought I was out to everyone, but it became clear that wasn’t the case when my old name got repeatedly thrown at me four times an hour, even though everyone else I normally work with was calling me Natalie and she, as usual. Finally I said something…
“You know I changed my name, right?”
“Yes. But you’re still [old name] to me. I don’t care.”
Apparently he knew, and didn’t care. It took an entire day for him to finally start using my now-legal name. I don’t know why he changed his mind. I had the same conversation with another person in a similar situation Wednesday, with the same response. Working with him today and tomorrow will see if he changes his tune, too, or gets my cold shoulder.
And though it may not seem like a big deal to most people, those thoughts infiltrated my day, making long days even longer, and me even more tired. This is an experience I’ll plan for better next time, but hope there isn’t a next time even more. The extra pay isn’t worth the extra stress.
Even in the men’s room, I fight like a grrrl.
Update: The sting of my loss is still potent, but it’s getting easier. I still miss her when I’m lonely, or when I’m sad, or when I’m happy. I still want to share moments with her that are important to me. We text still. I text her a lot more than she texts me, and I hope I don’t push her away by that, but she’s the one i want to talk to when things happen. I still want my best friend.
I also got my license in the mail with my new name, and can start the daunting task of changing everything over. One thing at a time. Moving forward…
As a side note, I noticed that people who seem uncomfortable with my gender, or still see me as male, tend to call me “Nat” instead, and avoid pronouns altogether. * squinty eyes* You ain’t slick. I know what you’re doing. 😛