Don't call me Mom

When did I become the old person in the office?

Speaking truth — December 15, 2018

Speaking truth

I’ve wasted hours of my life pretending to be something I’m not while discussing a job I’m not too thrilled about with someone who isn’t all that interested in me either.

Wouldn’t it be a big time saver to just speak the truth in an interview?

Me: “I appreciate the opportunity to refresh my interview skills with you today.”

Recruiter: “No problem, I had an open time slot and needed to look a little busier anyway.”

Me: “The job listed sounded moderately interesting but it isn’t something I could see myself doing for more than a month before I would have to ghost your company to save my own sanity.”

Recruiter: “We do tend to lose a lot of employees without notice. It’s probably a reaction to the extreme micro-managing style of leadership.”

Me: “I have nothing more to say here.”

Recruiter: “No worries.We had no intention of making you an offer anyway. I didn’t notice the date of your college degree till after I’d scheduled the interview, my bad.”

Me: “I’ll see myself out.”

Recruiter: “Thanks, I don’t want to make polite small talk walking you to the elevator.”

Soooooo much more efficient.

Working in downtown Chicago — December 11, 2018

Working in downtown Chicago

I love the energy of the city, although I needed to learn a few things first.

  1. You will never have a good hair day in Chicago.
  2. Don’t wear loose clothing unless you’re comfortable flashing your nethers every time the wind gusts.
  3. You know you’re in the theater district by the smell of popcorn and pee.
  4. Traffic markings are considered suggestions rather than hard and fast rules.
  5. If you’re going to flip someone the bird, take your mittens off first. More impactful, y’know?
If only… — December 10, 2018
Job-hunting as a 50+ year old female — December 9, 2018

Job-hunting as a 50+ year old female

There’s a million websites and how-to’s posted about job hunting after the age of fifty, especially as a professional woman. It’s hard for many people to accept that there’s a bias against older women, but if it weren’t the case, then why is there so much written about it? A preponderance of evidence indicates reality.

Unless you’ve experienced age discrimination directly, I can see why it’s tough to believe.  Imagine this situation–two equally talented candidates, both with track records of success, both bright and engaging communicators, both physically attractive. One, however is 51 and the other is 31. Now seriously, who do you think the hiring manager will lean towards? Yep, the younger person, unless of course, the older person has some sort of significant edge. Not exactly a level playing field.

I was interviewing for a software sales job several months ago. I cleared the initial hurdles easily through my credentials, references, recent history, industry knowledge and multiple phone screenings. The entire process ground to a halt when they asked for my driver’s license info to buy a plane ticket for the in-person interview across the country. The process went from daily interactions to nothing but the sound of crickets for several days—until I received the “Thanks but we’ve decided on a more qualified candidate” email message. Yep, really happened. And that was NOT the first time for me.

I’m not complaining, honest. I’ve always been able to land a job. Thankfully I am good at what I do, have great experience, the ability to find myself incredibly amusing, lots of contacts in the industry and a nice smile. Thank God, I’m genetically fortunate and mentally sturdy.

I also believe that wherever I am is exactly where I was destined to be at that moment in time, even if it sucks the biggest weenie imaginable. There is something to be gained or learned from each experience. The life lessons aren’t always immediately apparent, some have taken months and some have me scratching my head years later.

If a job hasn’t worked out for me, it’s because I wasn’t meant to be there anyway. Stay positive, work hard and know that the right placement is out there.

What happened to Generation X? — December 4, 2018

What happened to Generation X?

It seems like the press is full of commentary on Baby Boomers and Millennials, but as a proud founding member of Generation X, I’m thinking we should get our due. A quick internet search says the Generation X is the one following the Baby Boomers, although I’d rather not be defined by what I am not.

Generation X encompasses people born between 1965 and the early 80’s. We’ve been called the MTV generation, the first group of “latchkey” kids, the first group of kids heavily affected by the rising divorce rate, a group of rebellious, cynical, independent thinkers, a group struggling to find our place while not really wanting to be categorized, a generation questioning authority and the permanence of relationships.

Seems to me that the idealism and loyalty of the earlier generations gave way to a recognition of the new world reality, and we were the group to blaze that particular trail. The funny part of my research (generic reference to something I saw in a Google search) has shown Generation X to be pretty well-adjusted adults.  How the heck did that happen, given our cynical nature?

Speaking for myself, I am fairly well-adjusted. Life isn’t perfect, but it could be a lot worse and I have a theory.

I think people are happier when they accept reality. Not saying reality is necessarily a pleasant thing, but accepting it is key. I also think people are happier when they have the space to question the status quo and have room to search for their own life, rather than having it dictated. Generation X has had to define itself and find our own identity. Not an easy task but very rewarding once you hit mid-life and beyond.

Maybe that’s just Generation-X-me speaking, though.

 

 

The dermatologist — December 1, 2018

The dermatologist

Yet another sign you’re getting older is when you see the dermatologist for something other than acne.

Here’s the backstory–in the 70’s and 80’s having a tan was a symbol of good health and an outdoorsy lifestyle. We’d smear baby oil all over our exposed skin and bake for hours. Before you’re too quick to criticize the choices at the time, think of all the people today willing to shoot paralyzing toxins and plastics into their faces for cosmetic purposes. You just know that stuff is going to come back and haunt them. The things society is willing to do in search of beauty.

Anyway, my previous life choices have come home to roost and now I see the dermatologist regularly to keep an eye on some funky-looking spots on my skin. One of which was funky enough to need removal.

Laying face down on the exam table, buck naked, with only a skimpy paper sheet covering my nether region, the nurses went about their business prepping for the procedure. Have you ever been in a doctor’s office and felt more like an object than a human being? As the nurses were gathering their instruments of torture, one nurse said to the other nurse, “Get the needle please. No not that needle, the other one, the big one. No, the BIG one.” Seriously?

“You know I can hear you, right?” I didn’t even say it very loudly, but it startled them both. They had the decency to giggle sheepishly as the doctor walked into the room.

The doctor began her pre-procedure speech. “Lee Ann, we’re going to numb you now and then I’ll cut-”

“Look, I do best with these sorts of things not knowing what’s going on, unless I really need to know what’s going on. OK?” The nurses and the doctor went about their business working on the funky spot.

A pinch here and there, a little pressure and some tugging on the skin of my back and it was done. Or so I thought until I was dumb enough to open my eyes and peek at what was happening around me. Really dumb considering my eyes were level with their hands and the items in their hands, including one small glass jar with a chunk of my back in it.

I will never eat steak tartare again. Ever.

You used to be really good-looking, weren’t you? — November 27, 2018

You used to be really good-looking, weren’t you?

I’m in a hard-core sales environment, where you need boundless optimism, tons of energy, a thick hide and a great smile. Thank God, I’m well-preserved. I have long ago accepted that I am significantly older than the majority of people in the office, by 10 years minimum if not 20 or more. I’m fine with that. I like being around all sorts and types of people. It keeps the days interesting and everyone brings fresh perspectives to the job.

Although I’m aware of my age relative to the rest of the group, I don’t think about it too much. Until I have no choice.

A couple of weeks ago, the crew was heading out to a bar to blow off steam after hours. One of our many workplace Romeo-wannabes, came into my office. His jacket and tie were discarded, top couple of shirt buttons undone. He leaned over my desk ( I suspect he thought a glimpse of his love rug would help seal the deal) and asked me to join the crowd for drinks. I hesitated a second, because a glass of wine sounded pretty darn good, but then he delivered the fateful line, “You used to be really good-looking, weren’t you?”

Yep. Someone actually said that to me at work. The funny part was that I believe he honestly thought he was giving me a compliment.

I literally snorted in his face and dismissed him from my office. And this is why I drink alone.

 

 

Have Titan, will travel. — November 25, 2018

Have Titan, will travel.

My last blog post brought us to the point of me being crammed into a mid-size SUV with an over-sized steel cabinet, departing for home.

Leaving the home improvement store, I stuck to the back roads, seeing no sense at all in major highway travel with only my two big toes between me and disaster.

The drive home was a long twenty minutes. My legs were cramped and my shoulders were sore from hunching over the steering wheel. No sign of my husband, thank goodness. I want to get this thing in the house before he shows up and tries to apply a logical approach to this caper.

I pulled into the garage and turned off the car, pondering my exit strategy from the vehicle. The most sensible plan was to open my door, lean over and slide out arms and head first. Thank God, the neighbors can’t see me.

Freed from the car, I found the hand cart and without enormous effort, pushed the Titan out the back of the SUV and onto the hand cart. “It’s all downhill from here, you’ve got it under control,” I whispered to myself. “You can do this.” Positive self-talk is key throughout many of my undertakings.

I rolled the hand cart loaded with the 6’ tall, 154lb cabinet into the house and paused at the top of the stairs leading down to the basement to adjust my grip on the handle. “Here we go, you’ve rolled stuff downstairs a million times. No big deal. Well, it is a big deal…a big cabinet actually, but you can do it. Just control the drop on each step.” I eased the hand cart to the edge of the top step and took another deep calming breath. “You can do this, you can do this. You can do this.” My husband will be so surprised. I felt the hand cart and cabinet pulling down as they cleared the first step, landing with a thump on the second step. “See? Easy does it, you’ve got it.” I eased the hand cart forward again and gently thumped it down to the next step. “Ten steps to go, LA, you’re almost done.” Another gentle thump and the hand cart rested on the fourth step down.

Now it was time for me to also move off the landing and onto the first step. I lifted my right foot to step down and tripped over my left shoelace. I flailed for the railing, abandoning my precious cargo. With an enormous series of metallic thumps and crashes, the hand cart and cabinet made their own journey down the stairs, landing with a muffled thunk at the bottom of the stairs. I clung to the railing, heart pounding.

“Crap. That was less than optimal.” I descended the steps and surveyed the scene at the bottom. The thunk I’d heard was the Titan embedding itself in the drywall at the foot of the stairs. Also less than optimal. Yep, my husband will definitely be surprised.

I couldn’t very well leave the Titan stuffed into the wall. I figured if I could reach under the cabinet and grab the handles of the hand cart, I could drag the Titan backwards toward the stairs and out of the wall. With a lot of heaving and sweating and yanking, I managed to remove the Titan from its resting place and balance it back again on the hand cart.

Recommence positive self-talk. “OK, that was a tough spot, but you’ve got it under control now. The wall can be patched, the cabinet isn’t damaged and all is right with the world.”

I rolled the cabinet to its new home in the workout room and slowly allowed the cabinet to lower into a full upright position. It was going well until the heavy steel doors flung themselves open, throwing all the weight on the hand cart forward. “Nooooooo!” I scrabbled to grab hold of anything on the smooth steel cabinet but couldn’t get a grip. In desperation I flung myself at the cabinet, succeeding only in riding the cabinet as it crashed face-down onto the cement basement floor.

I laid on the back of the cabinet, my cheek against the cool metal, the hand cart on its side next to me. I seemed to be in good shape, no blood, no pain, no loss of consciousness. I wasn’t so sure my trusty steed, the Titan, was in such good shape.

I dismounted the Titan and took stock of the damage. One door completely off its hinges, a munched corner at the top of the cabinet and a hole in the drywall the size of a toaster.

I couldn’t help but laugh. Yep, my husband sure will be surprised.

Just because I’m older, don’t assume I’m wiser. — November 23, 2018

Just because I’m older, don’t assume I’m wiser.

The big steel cabinet was perfect for the man cave. Sturdy, trendy in an industrial way, and best of all, half price. One little dent in the diamond-plate steel side and the whole thing is half price. I’m a sucker for a good deal, so of course it’s coming home with me.

But how? Therein lies the rub. If I schedule delivery for a later date what fun would that be? I want instant gratification and I want it now. If I can cram a roll of carpet 10 feet wide into my mid-size SUV, certainly a 6’ tall Titan steel cabinet should fit.

The Scratch-n-Dent department manager was kind enough to have a couple of stockers haul my awesome new 154lb steel 72” x 36” x 24” Titan to the front register.

“What kinda car ya got, ma’am?”

“An SUV. It has plenty of clearance with the back seats folded down.”

“Ma’am? We got us a Titan here.” Oh really, as if I hadn’t noticed.

“Yes, thank you, I’m quite sure. I’ve hauled plenty of oversized items in my SUV and I am positive this will fit nicely in the back.”

“Yes, ma’am.” The three men ushered the cabinet through the checkout line and out the double sliding doors. I paid for the purchase and waggled my fingers at the men waiting under the roof overhang.

Hmmmm…I probably should have given this project more careful consideration. I eyed my SUV with moderate trepidation.

“Ma’am, we’d be glad to schedule this for delivery at a later-“ I held up my hand to stop him.

“No. Thank you, but no. I’ll be fine. I can figure this out. I can make this work.”

“But, ma’am-“

“Load it, please. The back of the SUV will hold a six foot long item, I know it will.”

“Ma’am-“ I narrowed my eyes at him and he sighed audibly. Shrugging, he motioned the three workers to surround the Titan.

“On the count of three, boys. One, two, three” and the Titan tilted slowly onto its back under the watchful eye of the department manager. Working as a well-oiled loading machine, the men gracefully slid my new Titan into the back of the SUV, almost. The cabinet stopped just short of allowing the back hatch to close.

“Ma’am?”

“No worries, I’ll just scoot the front seats forward all the way and it’ll be fine.” I cranked the seats as far forward as they would go. The cabinet slid the rest of the way in, hatch locking in place. Thumbs-up to the crowd.

I kept my focus on the incredibly stuffed car, listening for their oh-so-helpful footsteps to recede. To their credit, they did seem concerned to be abandoning a customer to her own lunatic devices. I admired the charcoal-gray-steel-filled windows of the back of the SUV, until at long last the young men washed their hands of the crazy stubborn lady and retreated to the logic and order of the enormous home improvement center.

No chance in hell did I plan to allow them a close-up view of me stuffing my gangly self into the impossibly small area left for the driver after moving the seats all the way up to within inches of the steering wheel to allow just enough room for the oh-so-cool steel Titan cabinet I found for half-price in the Scratch-n-Dent section. No chance.

This wouldn’t be pretty.

I studied the situation, reviewing options for entering the SUV. Head first? That’s just plain stupid. Am I planning to drive with my head on the floor? God knows there’s no room to maneuver once I get myself in. Feet first? Good grief, this isn’t the Dukes of Hazzard. How did Bo and Luke not catch a kneecap on the steering wheel when they did that swift little hop through the window into the driver’s seat? Also stupid, but not quite as stupid as leading with the head.

One foot at a time? Yep, that’s the ticket. Opening the driver’s side door, I slithered my sneaker-clad right foot towards the brake pedal, lowering my body towards the seat. Wait a second. My leg does not bend that direction. Son of a biscuit. I hopped backwards on my left foot, pulling my right leg out inch by inch.

A distant click of metal tapping plate glass told me that my every move was being scrutinized by at least one bespectacled employee from inside the Manly Stanley Store. Extricated from the car, I peeked at the store window. Fabulous. Both stockers, the cashier and the department manager guy were watching the free show. I gave them a confident and cheery wave, ducking behind the car to re-tie the sneaker that didn’t need tying.

The mental deliberations continued. Well, that leaves the butt. When all else fails, lead with your butt. I think that should be my new mantra, my words of wisdom, my guiding principle from here on out, in all facets of life. Yep, that’s it, I’m leading with my butt.

Having made a decision, I approached the driver’s side door once more with my head held high.

If I were an enterprising woman, I would have sold tickets, lined up lawn chairs and had a popcorn machine cranking. I turned and presented them with a view of my approaching backside through the opposite car window.

Excellent, I felt a small rush of satisfaction. My butt is in the driver’s seat. That’s a good start. Now to get my legs around the steering wheel and my feet on the pedals. I think if I pull my right knee as close as I can towards my face, pivot to the right with my foot over the steering wheel, I should be able to slither my leg down to the gas pedal. Heave ho and away we go.

Contortion complete, mission accomplished, my right foot is on the gas pedal. I straightened my body a couple of inches, just enough to give my left leg room to join the rest of me in the car. My left foot rested solidly against the floorboard. Both of my knees were jammed into the dash below the steering wheel.

I stuck the key in the ignition and fired up my trusty ride. Immediate hitch in the program. My feet were in but I couldn’t move them. At all.

I hesitated, glancing toward the window of Manly Stanley. There were at least twelve faces fogging up the front window, watching in fascination as my debacle unfolded. Their interest only made me more determined to get this enormous steel booger home by myself.

“OK, you can do this. One thing at a time.” I wiggled my toes and to my delight, discovered I could just reach the gas with my right big toe and the brake with my left big toe. I smiled in satisfaction. Problem solved. The ingenuity of the determined shopper is a thing of beauty.

Stamina? — November 20, 2018

Stamina?

So my new boss made a comment to me that rubbed me the wrong way. He said, “Lee Ann, we need to work on your stamina.”

Seriously? What’s wrong with my stamina? Why are we even discussing my stamina? Do you have any idea what I’m capable of? Everything I’ve done and everywhere I’ve been and all that I’ve accomplished? The hours I’ve worked? The miles I’ve walked on my fifty-plus-year-old feet? The situations I’ve handled? The circumstances I’ve overcome? Do you have any idea what it’s like to struggle with insomnia? To try to cope with other people’s bad choices? To find ways to be able to look at myself in the mirror when I’ve kept my mouth shut over things that are so very very wrong on so many levels and still get fired for not “fitting into the company culture”?

There’s nothing wrong with my stamina. It’s my interest in this particular job that needs work. I’ve been in sales for almost thirty years now and I lack interest in going door-to-door slinging the latest in office technology (copiers, yep, there’s a conversation-killer at parties).

It’s amazing how lively the dialogue in your head can be.

Big sigh and a yawn. I need the benefits, so I sat up a little straighter and made a polite neutral acknowledgement sort of noise.