What is your biggest worry aboard a plane? Being seated next to a crying baby, close to the washroom, next to the nauseous passenger?
For at least one woman, the gravest concern is math.
A woman on an America Airlines flight was seated next to a man who, she was quick to note, was not white. With an olive-toned skin and a mop of curly hair, the guy was the very face of the enemy.
When all of that suspicious non-whiteness was coupled with the man occupying himself with an enigmatic-looking language, poring over cryptic symbols and baffling signs, it was time to panic.
The quick-thinking passenger knew it was best not to alert the man, who was so obviously a terrorist. She subtly wrote and passed a note to her flight attendant.
The tension in the cockpit grew. The woman passed furtive glances in the "terrorist’s" directions, waiting for him to do something. For a half-hour past the flight schedule, the plane just stood there. It then headed back to the gate, where the woman left the plane. After some time, the man was also taken away.
He was told that he was suspected of terrorism because of the suspiciously terrorist-like script in which he was writing.
He told the security officers he was working on a differential equation, and that the woman, like most high school students, had been terrorized by calculus.
It doesn’t end there. The man, Guido Menzio, is a professor of economics at Pennsylvania, and has taught at Stanford and Princeton. An Italian, he was awarded the prestigious Carlo Alberto Medal, given to the best Italian economist under 40.
Writing about the incident, Menzio said, “What might prevent an epidemic of paranoia? It is hard not to recognize in this incident, the ethos of [Donald] Trump’s voting base.”