Monday, November 29, 2010

We don't want your job....

Age discrimination exists. I know you've heard that before, but until it personally slaps you in the face, it is only hearsay.

When I turned 50, I had had enough of entertaining (or not) middle schoolers all day. Fifteen years was my limit for people ignoring me and parents telling their kids they didn't have to do anything I told them to do. (The kids, not the parents. And yes, a parent told their child that at a conference I had requested to find a way to control their darling in class so I could actually TEACH.)

So, I decided to find another way to make a living. I reasoned, "I have a decade of experience in the business world, then 15 years in a classroom. Surely, those are marketable skills....somewhere." And off I went, sending out resumes and answering classified ads. Of course, like any sane person, I kept teaching in the meantime, anxiously opening my mailbox each evening as my patience wore thinner and thinner, hoping to find a positive response happily jumping around in there until I came home to find it.

Sometimes I actually got a chance to meet in person about a job posted somewhere. Have you ever had the experience of being interviewed by someone who is at least 3 decades younger than you? (They actually look like they're in the teens, but everyone looks younger as we get older, so we do have to factor THAT into the equation, too.) To say it is challenging is being polite, as they chew their gum and twirl their hair and ask "Like, tell me about yourself, 'k?"

The result of all those resumes and interviews was another year in the classroom, watching the months tick by and my sanity become even more compromised. This was before the economy took a slide into oblivion, so it wasn't that I was joining millions of folks doing the same thing. I just wanted to make a living doing something else, I had good experience and a college degree, and my work ethic is daunting.

The result? No job offers. I was "overqualified" or they decided to "go a different way in their job search." Or, even worse (I think), no response at all to my contact with their company. I came to the conclusion that I scared these youngsters. They probably thought that I wanted their job and had the ability to jerk it away from them fairly quickly. If they let me in the door. Which they were quick to slam in my face, collectively, about 5 or 6 times a week.

Little did they know that their jobs were safe from the likes of me. Every job I've ever had morphed into a supervisory position once those in the upper offices realized who they had. Someone who could do it. Whatever "it" turned out to be. But, with that responsibility came the headaches, the long days and nights of backbreaking work, and the lack of appreciation for all of the above. 

All I wanted at 50 was to show up on time, do my job to the absolute best of my ability (well, OK, maybe 110%, I can't change my personality THAT much), go home on time, pay my bills, and enjoy my quiet life. They would still get more for their money than what they had, I was sure, but I just wasn't into climbing the corporate ladder any more. That ladder was now stowed in my dark garage closet, gathering dust and cobwebs. I wasn't going to pull it out suddenly to tell them how to improve what they were doing.

Believe me.......'K?

The years teach much which the days never knew.  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

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