Qantas and the Doctor. Was a Qantas Employee Sexist?

airlinerEvery day at 3 pm the UPS delivery driver rings the doorbell of the lab. Since my office is closest to the front door and most of our staff is long gone by 3, I am usually the person to let him in. We chat about the weather, how busy a day it has been for each of us, and how bad the part-time UPS help is. He is always friendly and helpful, asking where we want each package delivered to. As he leaves he hands me his hand-held scanner and asks me for my signature. "Your John Hancock right here, Mr. Raff."

He has mentioned my car with the "Doc" license plates. He sees the packages he delivers addressed to Lester Raff, MD. And every day he sees the nameplate outside my office door, the one that says "Dr. Raff, Medical Director." But for him, I will always be "Mr. Raff." I have never corrected his small mistake and after years of our banter, I would feel embarrassed to do so now. He does his job, we get our needed supplies on a timely basis, and all is well. It is what it is.

So why do I bring this up? Have you followed this week's Twitterstorm, non-Trump category?

Siobhan O'Dwyer, an English physician, whose airline ticket correctly identified her as Dr. was called "Miss" by a Qantas airline flight attendant at the boarding gate. This was offensive to Dr. O'Dwyer. She tweeted that she didn't go to University for eight years to be called "Miss." After being called out by thousands of tweeters for being egotistical she followed up by saying "it’s not about the title, it’s about the fact that this wouldn’t have happened if I was a man."

Dr. Siobhan, I can sympathize with you. I too had four years of medical school. Then came a four-year residency and 35 years of practice to figure out how to do what I was doing. After all that time, most people do address me as Dr. And it does irk me when I get a written invitation from a close friend or relative addressed to Mr. Raff.

But the UPS driver? He's just a busy guy doing his job. Just like the Qantas flight attendant probably was. Maybe he had just come off a long trans-Pacific haul. Maybe his shoes were too tight. Maybe he just made a mistake. Not demeaning, not sexist, just a human error before a busy flight. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar!

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photo credit: Stefans02 <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/144594988@N02/44409447141">War Thunder / Flying At Dawn</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">(license)</a>

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