At a staff meeting earlier this week, a co-worker introduced an intern who would be working with the organization over the summer. The new intern wasn't at the meeting. When introducing the intern, my co-worker said something like, "he's the really tall one that you will see walking around the office."
That introduction reminded me of my freshman year of high school. In history class my freshman year, I had a classmate named Kathy Winkler. She was taller than all of the other girls in the history class and she was probably one of the tallest girls in the entire freshman class, if not the entire school. She probably also was taller than most of the boys in the school.
I have no idea if Kathy graduated when I did, if she moved away, or if she dropped out. I just have one memory of Kathy. At some point during freshman year, when I was in the hallway with a friend of mine near the gym locker rooms, I saw Kathy. In front of my friend, I asked her if she was on the basketball team.
"No," Kathy said, answering my question with all seriousness.
I don't know if I was trying to be funny or if I seriously wanted to know if she played for the basketball team. But either way, I never would have asked her the question if she wasn't taller than the average person at the school. Just as people have made assumptions about me and other people with dwarfism because of our stature, I made an assumption about my classmate. To this day, that assumption bothers me a little bit. I think that is why I remember nothing else about Kathy except for the question asked of her outside the gym locker rooms.
Later in the week, I talked to my co-worker about the introduction she made. She and others who were around at the time thought the introduction was appropriate. Maybe they are correct. In the society in which we live, size carries authority, respect and power. Identifying someone as tall would therefore be considered a positive. Or, at the very least, not negative.
Nevertheless, I couldn't help but be bothered by it, probably because I just kept wondering what it would be like if someone at a staff meeting described me as "the little one walking around the office."