I walk into a room, shake the hand of the interviewer, and take my seat. First question out of his mouth: “Did you play basketball?” I have asked other tall men if they hear the question and they say yes. It is just as annoying with them as it is to me. But how to answer it?
No, I can hear myself say. But — I add mercifully — that does not mean that I don’t know how to be a team member. I learned this in high school when I was part of the speech and debate team. I learned this when I took part in club projects that required me to follow a leader and carry out instructions. I learned this in my first jobs as a fry cook and a grill cook, doing my part to get the meal out to the customer. As an administrator, I did my part to create information that was used by the companies to make decisions about employment, ordering supplies, and assignment of jobs to machinery stations. Then as a club officer, I worked to create an environment where members could thrive.
There is a darker enquiry behind this: are you a tall drink of water without the intelligence to do a job? I think my record speaks for itself: I went to the tenth best college in America according to Forbes Magazine. I got there based on my high school performance, SAT scores, and nonsports extracurricular activities. I got through it with a B average. Since then, I have engaged myself in learning as I could afford it: sometimes books, sometimes courses. My mind has been active since the day I tossed off my black cap and gown.
This is what tall men and women endure from those of average height. We may have the minds, but not their respect. That contempt is, for some, automatic.
One thing I know is that if I hear the basketball question at an interview, my interest in working for that boss declines geometrically. It shows me that he is shallowly judgemental and superficial about his judgements. Can I tell him what I think and get hired? I doubt it. But it may educate him.