These are the thoughts of a Texas transplant in West Michigan who makes his living as a newspaper reporter by evening, and a struggling novelist by day.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

gender bender

the other night i went to a meeting out of the town. i was covering the meeting and writing on a topic for another reporter who is out of town.

dawn and i get there and there arent' but four cars in the parking lot. it's a sign that the issue isnt' a big one. we go inside and ther are two people inside sitting in the visitors' section.

one of the people sitting in visitors' section asks my wife if she's the reporter who covered the story. i explained that i was covering the meeting and that the other reporter was out of town.

i soon realize this is someone who's there to protest the issue. the person is short (even though they are sitting down), older (in their 60s) and a bit round.

the person mumbles out a name an d i hear mears (made up name), which is one of the names in the preview story. i am on the right track. the person is talking to me and i'm writing stuff down.

then it occurs to me that that it is a john mears (again not real name) who's quoted in the paper and not this woman. i figured maybe john was sick or couldn't make the meeting and he got his wife to show up in support.

so i ask,"is john your husband?"

the person replies, "i'm john."

OOPS!! whoa doggie!

i've related this story several times to coworkers and of course my wife while we were driving back to town. my wife asked if i didn't hear him say john mears. i said no. others said maybe it's your eye sight that caused you to not see properly.

well, it was more than just my bad vision. i honestly thought i was interviewing a woman. one of my strongest senses is my hearing and i usually pick up a person's voice and will recognize it even after one conversation. and i thought john was a woman because the voice was feminine, a little high-pitched and crackly.

so i was going on voice alone and even discounting appearance. boy was i off. but i had his voice on tape because i recorded some of the meeting while he was talking on the podium. i replayed it to my friends at the office and they all agreed that it did sound like a woman.

i was embarrassed, but i did keep on talking. i am unsure if i even apologized or not. john kept on talking, so i guess he was cool with it.

i know this has happened to people on the phone. i've actually asked if so-and-so is someone's daughter and they turn out to be a son (that happened a few months ago). but i person, i can't say it's happened before.

an oddly appropriate lyric from a song:
"man, i feel like a woman."


Post a Comment

<< Home