Saturday, July 30, 2016


I'm at my desk checking NOTAMs while my co-worker pops out for a quick Tim Horton's run before boarding. Seconds after he leaves, I hear footsteps on the stairs again. Thinking he has forgotten his keys or something, I start to say, "That was the quickest Tim Horton's run ever," but it's not someone I recognize. He works for the company next door.

He says, "Oh, not one of your pilots. Do you know where he has gone?"

It takes me a moment to parse this. The first sentence makes perfect sense, because I'm the chief pilot here, so a pilot working for this company is in some sense "my" pilot. But why does he want to know where my non-pilot co-worker has gone, or even know that he exists? Then he continues with why he's here, and my understanding cuts in. In his eyes I am not a pilot. I am a woman working at a desk. The possibility that I am the pilot he seeks has not even crossed his mind.

The guy who is now on his way to Timmy's towed the aircraft out to an inappropriate position, and it is blocking the egress of another airplane that is ready to depart. I apologize and leap up to help move it, but he says that's okay, he has a co-pilot. With my permission they will push it back a few metres. About a minute later their assistant chief pilot comes in with the same complaint, but he knows who I am. I grab a reflective vest and go out to the ramp even though I know it's handled.

I suppose I could choose to be offended or outraged that some twenty-something (who is inexplicably wearing a toque even though it's about twenty degrees now and will go up to thirty by the afternoon) has a concept of "pilot" that does not include people who look like me. On the broader scale, there are huge problems in a society when people's concept of "law-abiding citizen," "person suitable for employment," "person worthy of respect as a human being," and "potential friend" arbitrarily exclude huge swathes of the population, but today I will just be amused by my own power of invisibility.