“Don’t trust anyone over 30” was replaced with “40 is the new 30,” and as we got older, other numbers were “new,” as we clamored to stay young.
The harder truth is real life: a woman over 45 is teetering on the brink of “old” at work, if not at home. Advertising demographics have told us to move over, younger women with bigger credit card limits are the favored generation.
I don’t mind getting older. I’m lucky to be healthy. I look my age and no one particularly cares that I don’t feel my age. The general public is going to treat me as old because our culture is biased against aging. If you are still young enough to dread getting older, here are some ways you can treat the older generation with dignity:
- Don’t call us “honey,” “dear,” or “sweetie,” as a way of diminishing us. If you don’t know my name, calling me “honey” isn’t a substitute. It makes me feel like I’m six and wet my pants. Call me “M’am,” or ask, “I didn’t get your name?”
- Do not assume I’m retired. Not everyone sold their tech stocks and retired at 40. Or 50. Some of us have to work, some of us love to work. If you can’t talk to me about what I do, tell me what you are doing to change the world. Not to make money, to make a difference.
- Do not assume I have all the time in the world to wait for you, make appointments during working hours or am not busy. This is America, and time is money. You’re busy, right? So am I.
- Just because I am not an expert in your field does not mean I’m senile, forgetful, or can’t learn. Don’t make me prove that there is a lot you don’t know, either.
- If I ask you to repeat something, don’t speak slowly and loudly. I hear fine; I didn’t understand what you meant.
- Do not lump me in with all senior citizens. “You Baby Boomers are so . . . ” is not any better than any other racial, religious, county-of-origin, or handicapped slur.
Getting older is not a tragedy, a disability, or anything else except having a limited time to accomplish what I came here for. If you aren’t able to help, get out of my way. I’m not slowing down to make you feel better about you lack of experience.
—Quinn McDonald is just getting started.