Jump back in time to ten years ago. I am in an airport, preparing to board a plane. I do not remember which airport, but I know it was on the way back from my honeymoon. That tells you a bit of my age and state of mind. Legal to drive, legal to drink, relaxed, happy.
Chris goes up to the ticket counter to see if we can somehow get seats together in the emergency exit row. Due to his height, he always tries to secure emergency exit seats. He was not at all prepared for the comment that came next from the attendant at the check-in counter, who looks at me as I sit waiting with our luggage.
“Sir, your companion must be 16 years or older to sit in the exit row.” Shock. Confusion shows across Chris’ face. “My companion is my wife.” He points over to me. “She is definitely over 16 years old.” (And, no, I was not his child bride). At the time I was wearing a hooded sweatshirt, and a blue Patagonia winter cap. I have no idea why I was so overdressed, after all it was June. For some reason my outfit must have made the attendant think I was young. Chris comes back to where I was sitting, and has this grin on his face. I say to him, “Well, did you get your exit row seats just like you wanted?” He says back to me, “Yes, but the guy thought you were 16. I had to tell him that you were my wife, and that you were definitely old enough to handle an emergency exit.” Wow.
Yet, that same comment seems to follow me through life. Folks are shocked when they find out how old I really am. Or, they are shocked when they find out how many years of experience I had in the professional world. I suppose I should be grateful, because one day it might feel like the compliment of a lifetime.
“You must be 16 years or older to sit in the exit row.” Ha.