7 comments April 27th, 2005at 08:14pm Posted by Eli

Interesting article about age differences in the New York Times:

Now that I peer in on workplaces for a living, I see that too many allow age to divide them. Workers align themselves like middle schoolers at a dance – the upstarts (or young go-getters, depending on your point of view) on one side, the experienced (or past their prime, ditto) on the other. This explains why I so often hear from employees who feel disposable and unappreciated. It also explains why the Supreme Court recently lowered the threshold for age discrimination claims to 40….

There was a time in the working world when age correlated pretty much exactly with experience and, therefore, seniority. While I do not think things were better then, they certainly were less confusing. You started at a job young, then moved up the ranks until you became either important or obsolete. Then you retired, from the same company where you began.

This is not exactly a revelation, but I found the article intriguing because at 35-going-on-36, I feel like I am in transition from the youthful go-getter category to the seasoned pro category. I had never really given it much thought until a few weeks ago, when I was asked to meet with a couple of internal consultant/efficiency expert types. All of a sudden, I found myself in the role of the Experienced Voice Of Wisdom Who Knows How It Works, trying to rein in the Bright-Eyed Young Hotshots Full Of Wild Ideas. It was a dizzying moment of inversion.

Don’t get me wrong – I still have plenty of wild ideas of my own, and I try not to be a naysaying stick-in-the-mud – but it was still a strange experience to realize that I’m not a young turk anymore. Hell, most of the time I have trouble remembering I’m supposed to be a grown-up.

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  • 1. oldwhitelady  |  April 27th, 2005 at 9:18 pm

    That is interesting. The group in cubicles around me (we number 6) are of all ages, except we no longer have people in the 20s as they have all reached 30. We all seem to get along well. Let’s see, there’s 59, 56, 44, 30, 33, and 48. Maybe, that’s why we all get along. We do have another row with real youngsters in it and they get along, well, too. Maybe it’s the type of work?

  • 2. V  |  April 27th, 2005 at 11:03 pm

    I hope I never grow up.

  • 3. Eli  |  April 27th, 2005 at 11:13 pm

    I’m pretty sure I’m the youngest in my group (but not by a *huge* margin), but the gender gap is probably more weird than any age gap, since I’m the only guy in my group.

    It has its pros & cons, V.

  • 4. V  |  April 27th, 2005 at 11:23 pm

    No way. There’s a distinct difference between being an adult, and being a grown-up. I am capable of being an adult when the situation calls for it. But I don’t think I could ever be a grown-up. Fate worse than death.

  • 5. Eli  |  April 27th, 2005 at 11:27 pm

    I think I’m actually better at Grown-Up than Adult…

    I’ve become quite good at slipping into it at work, where it is often necessary. Had to do it a few times today, in fact.

  • 6. oldwhitelady  |  April 28th, 2005 at 11:58 am

    Grownup vs Adult. I always thought those were pretty close. Eli, you show how young you feel with your comments and your blog. You are not a stick-in-the-mud kind of guy, that’s why we love you. That, and we feel sorry for you about that huge thing on your eye:)

  • 7. Eli  |  April 28th, 2005 at 6:05 pm

    Thanks, OWL. Of course, you’ve never heard me put on my Confident Businesslike Voice and say things like, “I’m on it”, “I’ll take care of it”, and “No problem.” To say nothing of the technical and financial patter.

    It’s a little bit like an out-of-body experience, really…

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