American Airlines Questions Ivy League Economist Because He Was Doing Math
Thanks to a vigilant lady on an airplane, Americans now look paranoid, xenophobic AND terrible at math.
Guido Menzio, a man with olive skin and dark curly hair, was on board American Airlines Flight 3950 when the woman in the seat next to him noticed he was a) brown-skinned and b) intently writing something in a notebook in a script she couldn’t understand.
Her natural conclusion? He was probably a terrorist scribbling in Arabic about how to blow up the plane. So she slipped a note to the flight attendant and the flight was delayed two hours while Menzio was escorted off the plane and questioned.
Turned out he was working on a differential equation, because he’s a prize-winning economist from Princeton and the University of Pennsylvania, the Washington Post reports.
Menzio had been on the first leg of a connecting flight to Ontario, where he would give a talk at Queen’s University on a working paper he co-authored about menu costs and price dispersion. His nosy neighbor had spied him trying to work out some properties of the model of price-setting he was about to present. Perhaps she couldn’t differentiate between differential equations and Arabic.
Menzio showed the authorities his calculations and was allowed to return to his seat, he told me by email. He said the pilot seemed embarrassed. Soon after, the flight finally took off, more than two hours after its scheduled departure time for what would be just a 41-minute trip in the air, according to flight-tracking data.
There’s no word who the offending woman is, which is good for her sake, because the internet is busy tearing her a new one.