Wednesday, February 06, 2013

How Men Pack

Back before I got fed up trying to find time to blog, I was attempting to write an entry on the hazards of wearing the same pair of shoes sixteen hours a day for weeks on end, and on the mysterious ability my male co-workers have to have everything they need weigh only five kilograms. Now I can follow up.
I don't think it's a really case of my needing more outfits. I wear the same clothing in the airplane as I do to dinner, and I think the guys bring workout gear just as I do. Or maybe they just wear the same clothes. Men can wear workout shorts in a northern town in public without being asked for their rates. They don't need to change bras before going from the airplane to a 15 km run. (For those who don't know, a workout bra is too tight to wear for hours sitting in the plane, but a sitting-in-the-plane bra doesn't provide enough support for running. They should make a bra that instantly adapts to its surroundings, like those Transitions sunglasses, so an ordinary bra instantly becomes a sport bra in turbulence). Another part of it is that the men aren't in the field as long as I am, so can probably get away with one pair of pants and a pair of shorts. The reason they out as long is that they company calls and tells them they are being swapped out, like they have just done. There is no commercial air service from where we are, so I fly to a larger airport and taxi in towards the terminal.
Every airport works a little differently for airside security. Some of them anyone can go anywhere. Some everyone inside the fence has to have an escort or a badge, and some are divided into zones. This one has zones, I think. I tell the controller I have a passenger with baggage to drop off at the terminal, where can I stop? He tells me in no uncertain terms that the terminal gate parking is a restricted area. I acknowledge this, trying to imbue my reply with a calm tone of calm "I would never go in there, sir," referring to the secure zone I can't yet see around the terminal. There's probably a painted line or something. I negotiate permission to shut down briefly near an airside exit gate that is only a short walk from the public entrance to the terminal. In addition to his meagre luggage, my guy has some heavy company equipment to lug home, containing the fruits of our labours.
I offer to help him carry it into the terminal but he's fine, and I let him know it's okay to leave anything he wants in the airplane. That's another reason why they have less baggage. One learns in one's first romantic breakup and has reinforced frequently throughout an aviation career: when you walk away, make sure you have everything with you, because it's really hard to get it back otherwise. There's a pair of hip waders in rear cargo that the guys share, and a pair of thongs--that's the shoes, not the underwear--that belong to someone. On this occasion he says he doesn't have anything but I prompt for the stuff I might forget, "Do you have a knife? Leatherman? Spare laptop battery? Toiletries over 100 mL?"
"No," he says. And this is the part, besides penises, where men are different than women, "I don't bring any of that. I find the hotel-provided toiletries sufficient."
This awes me. Sure he doesn't have any make up with him, but neither do I. Well maybe one lipstick. He's not carrying any sunblock, let alone a different kind of sunblock for his face, as for his arms and hands. He carries moisturizer lotion neither for day nor night, neither for face nor other parts of his body. He uses the mysterious shampoo and conditioner provided by the hotel on his actual hair. He probably has a little mini tube of toothpaste that wouldn't last three weeks, and isn't available in the for-sensitive-teeth brand I prefer. He doesn't need a little bottle of special soap for washing compression socks. He shaves without cream or lotion, or maybe he uses soap for that. Hotel soap. I wish him a good flight, in a subdued kind of way, and get a message that his replacement won't be arriving on the same plane he is going out on, so I should go to the hotel on my own.
I start up and taxi past the terminal, staying clear of the secure area, and waving at the windows, in case he can see me. I park at the FBO and cab to the hotel where I discover that the can of shoe deodorizer has let go in my luggage, filling its plastic bag with nicely scented white powder and leaving no propellant in the can. This is what I meant in the previous entry about "in case it explodes". They're designed with a relief valve, so they don't actually explode explode, they just vent. It's the first time I've had toiletries leak in my luggage, and there's no mess. Next time I'll just buy a box of baking soda.


Unknown said...

Years ago I crewed with Wayne, who didn't exactly fit your model. Instead he carried everything from Arctic to tropical gear, "Just in case they send us somewhere unexpected."
One night the driver tasked with giving us a ride to the hotel paused during his struggle to heft the oversized roller duffel into his van, to admonish Wayne.
"Yo fella, you givin' men ah baaad name!"

majroj said...

I learned my lesson. I used an emptied Stanley plastic tool chest (rollers, telescoping handle) to pack for Afghanistan, adding velcro to the latches and carabiners on little leashes for the lock eyes to keep it closed. I packed tools, batteries, toilet paper, clothes, some medical supplies and equipment, and struggled to keep it within two pounds under the max weight (in case someone's scale was off). When opportunity in Atlanta appeared to check a second case, I took my carry-on and moved the heaviest little stuff (tools, batteries, etc) there so the big roller was definitely not overweight.

At the Dubai airport, we were not offered the chance to either re-pack nor check through the second bag. The nice lady quietly but efficiently and accusingly removed my tools, my swiss army knife (AAAAAAGH!!), my dry cell AA batteries, my bungee cords, my coat hangers....she left the blood pressure cuff and stethoscope...and I got through the next two weeks ok.

Mentally reviewing the harvest scene is pretty funny, although it was a bit unsettling when she failed to take my pocket sewing kit which included a 2 cm straight razor for ripping seams. I guess she was just getting tired.

PS: it wound up with the tool chest weighing more than the stuff I packed home.

LocalFlightEast said...

Im so glad I'm not the only one who has a "flying bra"
I learnt my lesson the hard way when , after a particularly "firm" landing I nearly stabbed myself in the eye because I had dislodged the underwire :(

Anonymous said...

I had this discussion once with a buddy, who insisted that "thongs" were footwear. "No no no", I insisted, they're underwear.

What he was referring to, of course, is flip flops.

He's older than me, but American as I, so I doubt the difference in usage is a Canadian vs. American thing, but probably more of an age thing.

And thanks for the detailed description of bra strength requirements. As I runner, I'm familiar with some of the use cases, but didn't realize that turbulence was one as well! But I'll leave that little seed of a business opportunity to someone else, just the same.


Aviatrix said...

A thong is a thin fastening strip, like the one that goes between your first and second toes on thongs (footwear) or the one that goes between your butt cheeks on a thong (gaunch). I suppose one is "thong sandals" and the other is "thong panties" and if someone says "whose are these thongs in the back of the airplane?" you can use whatever image you prefer to decide how naked people have been getting back there, or if they're just really into arts and crafts. In most contexts I can tell because if people wear two thongs, they're usually on their feet.

I threw in gaunch up there so you'd really have some Canadian underwear terms to throw around. You can supposedly tell where someone grew up from whether the call it gaunch, ginch, or gotch. I think there might be more, but in Canada, g___ch means underwear.

Flygirl said...

Hilarious :) loved it.