On my way to San Francisco for a conference of the American Anthropological Association and I decided to conduct an experiment. What would it be like to put on my suit and fedora and travel like it was the 1930’s?
Being ever so slightly socially anxious these days, this is sort of fun but also sort of interesting, hilarious, and odd. Putting on the suit, the hat, and then carrying my leather bag and carry on, I look like a G-man from a 1930â€™s movie.
The cab driver was confused as I came out. He didnâ€™t know exactly what to think. People donâ€™t dress up to travel today. They donâ€™t dress up at all. Especially in Hawaii where wearing shoes is considered dressy. So the cab driver jumped out of his cab, opened the trunk, and didnâ€™t say anything until I spoke. Interesting.
Then, he asked me â€œIf you donâ€™t mind me asking, what do you do that you get to dress like that?â€ I tried not to guffaw but it wasnâ€™t difficult as I was feeling anxious about being judged, I recognized that and so I said. â€œTo tell you the truth, Iâ€™m an anthropologist.â€ â€œWhat does an anthropologist do?â€ He asked. â€œWe study people.â€ I answered. That set a strange tone as now he was probably under the impression that I was studying him. I was. I had to come to terms with being odd and standing out. The truth is, I am odd as I wear a suit to travel and I do stand out, but I am fairly sure it is in the best possible way.
The cab driver and I talked politics. I asked him what he thought of the economy and the new depression and he said he thought it was because there are too many people and that the government should have created think tanks to figure out all of this would happen before it did. Finally, just before he got here, he told me that he thought that things had been alright with the less intelligent people out of work, but now that smart people were losing their jobs, he expected all hell to break loose. He figured that the smart ones would tear everything apart. The cab ride was $30 but I suppose it was worth it just for that insight and to start out figuring out what it is like to travel this way.
At the airport, I was surprised that I had to take off not only my shoes and hat but also my coat. The female security guard triple checked my ID and while my bag got searched because my toothpaste tube was too large (a new euphemism?), the male security guard let it pass. When I asked the female security guard what she had been checking, she told me that she had been making sure my ID wasnâ€™t expired. Not yet, but almost. The passport though is good for quite a while.
A male passenger waiting behind me made the instant assumption that I was heading back to work in San Francisco. I even mentioned that I live here, but he had already decided I was heading back to my home and work on the mainland because of my attire. Then, he sort of wanted to make friends I think, but I didnâ€™t encourage him.