Because I am a very, very frequent flyer (nearly 150,000 miles a year), I am often provided complimentary upgrades to first class, which, of course, I immensely appreciate although first class is often lost one me: I fit easily into economy seats, not knowing what to do with the extra space in first-class seats, and I generally sleep for the duration of the flight, losing out on enjoying the various amenities offered. On a recent flight on which I had, once again, been upgraded, as I stood in line to use the toilet in the plane's first-class cabin, where I was seated, one of the stewardesses approached me and said, "Please use the toilet in your class."
Dutifully, I began to move toward the rear of the plane until I realized that she thought I was in economy class. I pointed out my seat in the corner of the first-class cabin, and she apologized, "I did not realize that you were so short."
Hm, is there a height requirement for first class? Obviously (or at least, it seemed obvious to me at the time), it was not a matter of my being short but rather that I did not look like I belonged in first class. I was offended, not because I personally had been regarded as not belonging in first class but rather because I live in a society without social classes -- or so I tell people in other countries when I visit. The stewardess's comment revealed openly what I try to hide even from myself: we are not a classless society in the United States any more than Soviet Russia was a classless society. The political propaganda says one thing; the behavior of the people say another.
I suppose I can understand why I was considered not first-class material by that particular stewardess. I travel comfortably, in jeans and tees. I look like a farmer's daughter. Stop! I am a farmer's daughter.
That intellectually gifted but highly impoverished farmer helped develop my mind as much or more than any of my college professors. Without the room in our old drafty farmhouse miles from town that he turned into a library, replete with a large number of the classics taught in college courses, bought at times at the expense even of daily necessities, and debates and philosophical discussions that we had on the way to and from high school in a nearby city, to which he had to drive me and my siblings since our farming community had no high school, I would not have been able to hold my own in college and graduate school and in increasingly responsible positions in the workplace.
So, get used to it, first-class attendants! A farmer's daughter may be on your next flight!