Thursday evening I was in Washington, D.C. waiting on a flight home after several business meetings that day. The airport near the Pentagon is always crowded with people- civilians and public servants alike. As the gate agent began calling for boarding groups, I quickly glanced down at my pass to notice that I was assigned to Group 2.
After calling for the First Class, Executive Platinum, and Priority Access passengers to board, the gate agent began to call the rest of the boarding groups with the following announcement: “Ladies and Gentleman, thank you for your patience. At this time we would like to invite all passengers in Group One to board the aircraft. And in honor of Veteran’s Day, we’d also like to extend the invitation to all military veterans if they would like to board at this time.”
Now I travel several times a month, and I’m used to hearing “Active Duty in Uniform are welcome to board”- but he said “Military Veterans”, so I smiled at the small token of recognition and stepped into line.
When I reached the gate agent, he glanced at my boarding pass and said, “Ma’am you’re in group two. We’re boarding group one. Please step right over here for me.”
I politely said, “Yes Sir. But you called for military veterans also, right?”
The agent, sighing a bit to himself, looked at me rather annoyed and responded (with a heavy amount of sarcasm), “Yes Ma’am. I called for military veterans, not military family members. Now please, step aside and wait for you group to be called.”
I was so shocked I started to laugh. In fact, I’ve been chuckling about that man’s gaffe since, and it still makes me smile to think of it now. Apparently women can’t be veterans! Maybe I should make a bumper sticker that says, “Hey! Women are Vets Too!”
Monday Morning Perspective
“If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, infinite.” -William Blake
“Most of the mistakes in thinking are inadequacies of perception rather than mistakes of logic.” -Edward de Bono
It’s no wonder that people are constantly working to overcome misperceptions of their skill, talent, and competencies. If the world’s realities were based upon the perceptions of that gate agent, I would never have been granted the pleasure of serving nearly eight years in the United States Army. My life was forever changed because of my experiences in the military, and I have no idea what I’d be doing today if not for the leadership and friendships I was given through my brothers and sisters in arms.
We, as human beings, have a weakness for allowing our perceptions to shape our realities. Long ago, it was common knowledge that the world was flat. The earth was also considered the center of the universe. We’ve proven all of that wrong.
In World War II, black men were restricted from serving in combat roles because the military medical officers determined that they had poor night vision. Today, some of the most respected men and women and uniform are black. (Colin Powell, anyone?) Can you imagine the capable warriors that we left in the confines of a mess tent or battleship peeling potatoes when they could have been saving the lives of their fellow countrymen? It’s truly a shame.
Misperceptions continue to plague us. I’ve experienced them- misperceptions on my capabilities that were based on gender, age, and ethnicity. It’s always been entertaining for me to work hard to overcome them- to change someone’s perception of what could be based on my outcomes- but there is still part of it that irritates me too.
Living our lives without ever searching for the reality of a situation, or the grounds of a perception, rob us of fundamental strengths that can enrich our lives- personally and professionally. So before you write someone off for any reason, make sure you have the facts- and that your perception is based in reality. You’ll be happy you did because you’ll find value almost everywhere you bother to look.
Have a wonderful week- And Happy Veteran’s Day to all those who have and continue to serve!
© Crystal Dyer 2011. All rights reserved.