Dear Aunty B,
I run a creative agency in inner city Melbourne and, as you can imagine, the staff are a mix of very young, hip things.
Every time my staff want to make an issue about people being out of touch they say stuff like: “We don’t want any 50 year olds!” or “He’s really old, like 50!”
Usually I ignore them, but I am about to turn 55 next month and every year I have a birthday they do the same thing: ask me how old I am and when I tell them they look kind of dumbstruck like anyone could actually be that old. And then they instantly forget it; like zombies have wiped their minds so when they make their next comment about not wanting to deal with old people it never occurs to them that the very boss they are talking to is OLDER than what they consider bloody ancient!
The irony is, of course, that I am far fitter than most of them, eat far better, drink far less, work longer and am probably going to outlive the lot of them.
We have a tradition whereby the receptionist sends a note around on birthday morning reminding everyone to wish the birthday boy or girl a happy one. Should I cancel this, forget about birthdays altogether, and stop talking about my age?
I don’t actually think the staff would mind. One turned 25 the other day and told everyone she was having a crisis because she now felt old and could we please not wish her happy birthday because it made her teary.
Hale, hearty and happily old,
Dear Hale, hearty and happily old,
I do understand. As a card carrying baby boomer you feel it is your responsibility to keep changing the world to make it better for…well, yourself. And your latest campaign, of course by the baby boomers, is to make middle-age seem positively fashionable and desirable. In fact, if you are not 50, you are just not fabulous, probably can’t afford a mortgage, eat too much junk food and stay up late at night frying your brains on stupid game machines that the young pretend are culture.
So, I say to you, keep feeling smug and superior until you are at least at your 95th birthday. By then when all your body parts have been replaced or improved several times, you can admit that, yes, you are actually old.
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Never spend your birthday with anyone under 50 who doesn’t actually understand that, yes, you are actually celebrating.
As for your staff? Why bother even telling them how old you are. When they think about you at all (when it’s time for a pay rise) you are just another annoying old person, like their parents, who says no and tells them to put the cereal away.
So cancel all birthday celebrations at work (vaguely blame the hapless teary woman and your HR manager). But do remain true to your annoying baby boomer roots. Every time anyone makes a comment about age, be very pointed. Look at them and ask them is this how they “manage up”.
And then remind them that it is doddery, old folk like you who pay for their computer games.
Your Aunty B
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