Working a flight to Austin, Texas recently I had an awkward experience that I just have to share and get out of my head.
I was boarding the flight and a gentleman stopped me, leaned in and said, “I just have to say, you have the most gorgeous eyes.” Wow, okay a little odd but still, it’s always nice to hear a compliment or two. Especially considering I have gained a few pounds in the past couple weeks (I blame it on my happy relationship LOL) and I just threw my hair back in a bun that morning. I said thank you and continued boarding the rest of the customers.
During the flight, the same guy came to the back of the plane and asked for my name as he was waiting to use the restroom. I told him my name and the other flight attendant casually included the guy in our conversation. The guy then turned to me and asked the question.
“What is your family history?”
Now, I mentioned this in my introduction (at least, I think I did. If not, oops!) I am half African American and half Spanish/Portuguese. I do know that sometimes people are unsure if I am full African American or if I am mixed with another race. I have been asked many many times, “What are you mixed with?, “Are you full black?” etc. But those were asked by people who were my friends or had seen pictures of my family. I don’t mind being asked what my heritage is, I find nothing wrong with that. For some reason, this question really irritated me though.
What is my family history?
When he first asked, my automatic response was.. “Well, I was raised in California. My mom is a flight attendant like myself and my dad works in the Silicon Valley.” Funny how after years and years of being asked about my heritage, that’s still my innocent response.
But then I realized what he was really asking. Why did he need to know? He was more than twice my age, so I knew it wasn’t a pick up line. Was he just curious? I doubt he was coming from a malicious place, but why would he ask? It’s none of his business.
I looked at my coworker who was just sitting there with a shocked look on his face, and I responded slowly. “Um, I’m half African American and half Spanish.” His eyes opened wide and asked without hesitation, “Oh, Spanish? Like from Spain?”
At this point, I’m not only completely over this conversation but I’m realizing I’m entertaining someone who is uneducated and unaware. I respond with a quick, “Yes.” and turn my back to finish the conversation with the other flight attendant.
Why do people feel the need to know what others are made of? Do I go around asking people what their blood type is? Or what color underwear they’re wearing? Neither of those answers are going to change my life in any way at all, no is it going to keep me up late at night.
All in all, just stop to think about how something will affect someone before you ask them a question about themselves. How will they take this question? Will it make them hurt? Will it make them self conscious? Will they be willing to share?
Is it acceptable to ask?
What is your family history?