IF YOU'RE GOING TO SUCCEED - BE INSPIRED
In considering a short humorous piece about work Iím tempted to say that thereís nothing funny about it. Thatís because, at 54, I have trouble getting any. Work, I mean. Maybe if there were something called "Workagara" that made you look twenty-five again theyíd hire you more easily, but that drug is still in development. Hey! Thatís it! Iíll become a pharmaceutical researcher and invent it! Iíll be rich! Iíll be rolling in the dough! Iíll be comfortably well off!
The thing is, it isnít legal to discriminate against someone for being over forty and less than seventy. So, you canít say something blunt like "youíre too old, gramps, go play some checkers!" Frankly, that would be an improvement on the stuff I have heard like, "we found someone with just a little more technical skill."
Technical skill? Listen, girly, I was ridge-reaming my Mercury Comet when your mom was in high school, OK? I know technical skills. Why you whippersnapper, I remember when floppies really were and it took ten days to boot up your PC and another ten to shut it down, and we liked it!
The honest truth is that I really do have the technical skills. There are lots of theories out there about why age discriminations happens in spite of that fact. They say (you know, "them") that itís a lack of social fit. If you grew up listening to the Dave Clark Five on WABC youíre just not going to fit in with a crowd that grew up listening to Dr. Dre on XM. Maybe, but I donít think so. I think that the trouble with older workers, so far as younger workers are concerned, is that we just remind them too much of where theyíre headed.
Oh, yeah. There you are, thirty-two years old, couple of kids in daycare, spouse working worse hours than you are, trying to make the payments on that Ford Humungoid parked across three spaces in the lot, and in walks some guy with some grey hair, where he has hair, whoís maybe excited because his new granddaughter is coming to visit and all you can see is that that SUV and those trendy clothes and the home theater and all that other stuff youíve bought to stay young are just never going to work. No matter what you do, no matter where you go, no matter how you slice it, youíre gonna get old slick! And thatís right next door to dying, maybe even worse.
People try lots of tricks to look younger. You can get your hair cut in a contemporary style, for example. Thatís actually a good idea, because the seventies were a long time ago, you fossil, and you might wake up and consider that the twentieth century is over and so should you be. Over, I mean. Over it, I mean. Then you can put color in your beard if you have one, and unfortunately a beard in general makes a man look younger, though it doesnít do much for a woman, so if youíve got one you arenít going to like the grey hairs in it. So you color those, and maybe the hair on your head in the new style, and you rub some Preparation H in places it isnít sold to be used and you go in to the interview with a bounce in your step and a smile on your lips and it goes great.
Until they check with your college and find out you graduated decades into the distant past. Thatís when your skill set suddenly gets outdated.
So, my suggestion is not to try to fool anyone. Heck, try to look older. Creep into the interview with a walker if you can borrow one, maybe grey your hair even more than it is. Sit out in the sun until you wrinkle even more than you are naturally, then buy a suit that was fashionable in 1977. (Theyíre easy to find in costume shops. Just look in the Halloween section.) Donít catch a third of whatís being said. Ask for lots of repeated statements, cup your ear and say "eeeh?" a lot. Then, when tottering out the door at the end of the interview, lose your balance and smash the water cooler all over the carpet.
No, you wonít get the job that way either, but it will be a heck of a lot more entertaining than hearing about "technical skills."
by Steve Fey: