Assumptions about Assumptions

I had an interesting airport experience yesterday. Realizing I was flyng with a U.S. based airline, I planned ahead to take advantage of oversold flight perks. Wouldn’t it be great to have a free flight for a writing session with the co-author of a book we’re hoping to write this year! So my plan was in place, and I walked to the counter during the announcement that asked if one person would delay their flight.

I arrived first, and a tall man arrived on my heels (close enough that we might be interpreted as a couple). The United agent hung up to phone and asked the man if we were together. I replied that we weren’t but we’d come for the same purpose. The agent maintained eye contact with the man and arranged for his free flight. I was as curious as I was irritated. As I walked away from the counter, a woman standing close enough to have watched the scene unfold gave me a knowing smile. I said, “I guess I wasn’t tall enough” and she laughed.

After the passenger and agent had completed their conversation I went back to the counter and said “For future reference, I wanted to let you know that I was the first to arrive at the counter.” The agent looked a bit flustered and said “Well, he might get on this flight anyway.” I wondered if he had spent his career working for tall white males and reiterated that I was mentioning this as something to think about in the future. I wonder if he heard anything other than a gentle complaint? How many boundaries was I trying to cross, and did I cross any of them?

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