As the Frank Sinatra song goes, “Regrets I have a few…” In my world, I call them mulligans. Golfers know that term. A mulligan is a second chance. A do over. If you have a lousy drive, you turn to your partner and ask, “Can I have a mulligan?” If they are kind and understanding, they will respond with “Yeah, go ahead but you can only have one this round.”
I have some mulligans in my life. One of those mulligans happened about 17 years ago and to this day, it still bother me.
I was on a flight with an airline that is no longer in business. I had earned an upgrade coupon and I was seated in first class, aisle seat. This was during a time when you didn’t see that many women seated up front. Fast forward to 2019, it’s not uncommon to see women out numbering the men up front.
Seated across the aisle from me was an African American woman. As the cabin was being seated the flight attendant approach the woman and asked, “Hello ma’am, may I see your boarding pass please?”
The only time I have heard that question from a flight attendant is when there is a seating error and two passengers are assigned to the same seat. However, this time is was not the case. The women looked at the flight attendant for a moment, then reached inside her pocket and presented the boarding pass. The flight attendant said, “Thank you” and walked away.
At that moment, the woman across the aisle looked at me and asked, “Did that flight attendant ask to see your boarding pass?”
My response was a meek, “Uh no.”
The woman across the aisle just shook her head and mumbled, “Amazing.”
I wish I had said something. I wish I had stepped up and said, “Excuse me, you didn’t ask to see my boarding pass, why are you asking to see hers?” I wish I had talked to the lead flight attendant, the employees at the counter as we landed or written the president of the airlines with this story.
Even though I was shocked to hear the flight attendants request to see an black woman’s boarding pass, I didn’t step up. Leadership is hearing a voice in your head that says, “Someone should do something.” Being a leader is a voice back from your heart that says, “Maybe that somebody should be me.”
As we hear at the airports from TSA, “If you see something, say something.” When it comes to injustice…if you see something, say something.