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The small green sign was barely noticeable on a pole; it probably would have escaped my notice yet again had I not paused my bicycle beside it days earlier. "Mass Pike", it beckoned, with an arrow and a caricature of a pilgrim's hat. I knew the history of the logo: an earlier version had portrayed racial stereotypes of the natives who ceded their land to the new settlers in questionable deals nearly 400 years earlier. But I didn't intend to linger in the Central Square of the city next to mine. No, I had an appointment to make.

Shortly collecting the highway, I pushed on southwest. I had a lot on my mind. Despite an improved situation over the prior year, I continue to live at the edge of my capacity, emotionally, fiscally, and given the recent surgery, physically. The last is more worthy of celebration than the others. In fact, I hoped my appointment would bring clearance to do more. I wasn't sure how wise it might be to mention what I was already doing: my check-out appointment six weeks prior came with the suggestion I take it easy and wait for the healing to progress.

I planned to see a friend, recently out of surgery herself, before settling in at another friend's house for the night. Some unexpected car trouble set the plan back, though, and forced me to find repair services along the way. Like so much else in my life, I found myself worrying about things others take for granted. What sort of reaction would I garner? If you are some substantial subset of white, male, cisgender, and not obviously gay or lesbian, you might not give the interaction a second thought. But each of those boxes you can't check might well count against you, depending who you found yourself interacting with.

I opened the door and was offered a friendly greeting. Aside from a single instance where one of the folks I was interacting with called me sir -- a slip he apologized for when I corrected him -- I perceived nothing even slightly amiss. Continuing on, the reduced time to see my friends, and the cost of righting the situation added to my burdens, but at least on this day, the only issue laying at the feet of my gender was the need to make the trip at all.

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