Frank Moldstad is the only 50-something at a west coast digital marketing firm comprised almost entirely of 20-somethings. This is the ongoing story of his travails....
In cube-land, there is a lot of random chatter. Tuning it out is essential if you want to get anything done. But sometimes, a stray fragment drifts your way from an adjoining cubicle and you are powerless to ignore it. This phenomenon occurs today when I hear Jane in the next cubicle talking with Mary, our IT person.
"It's your birthday?" says Jane. "How old are you?"
"I'm 28!" Mary replies, sounding pleased to be asked.
"That's like the perfect age, isn't it?" Jane says. "My mom has been saying that's how old she is for years."
"Yeah, I like it. How old are you?" Mary asks.
"I just turned 26," says Jane.
As they discuss the delights of getting older, I am struck by how open they are about their ages. They have not yet reached the point where the number of years they have been on this earth is something to be concealed.
Now, I am quite comfortable with my age. In fact, I am proud of it. But even in my 50-something circles, it is rude to ask someone how old they are unless you know them pretty well. And if asked, most people my age would not answer the question, or they would deflect like Jane's mother, the perpetual 28-year-old.
"I think that 26 is about the average age here," says Mary. "Of course, there are a couple of people who raise it up."
Those people would be me, our 30-something boss, Marci, and our 70-something mailroom guy, Harry. But Mary and Jane are particularly confused about my age.
"He's at least 45," says Jane.
"You're crazy, he's like 65, ready for retirement," says Mary.
"Let's ask him," Jane says.
Because I have been eavesdropping, I am forewarned. As they come into my cube, I am busy typing away.
"We were just wondering, how old are you?" asks Mary.
"I'm old enough to know better," I say.
"No, but really," Jane persists.
"Why do you want to know?" I ask.
"He's 55," says my cube-mate Evelyn, proving that Gen Y loyalty runs deeper than cube loyalty.
"No way!" says Jane. "That's older than both of us put together."
That is true. I may also be twice as wise as the two of them combined. But I do not say this, because it would be unwise. They would surely take it wrong.
"As you get older, you become sort of age-agnostic," I say. "Sometimes, I even have to think for a second about how old I am."
"Memory is the first thing to go," says Evelyn.