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About casual ageism at work

(18 Posts)
Fezzik Wed 06-Jul-16 11:46:55

Genuinely don't know if IABU here so I would be grateful for some opinions.

I started a new job last year. It's a great job and I enjoy it, however I've had to take a step back in seniority - I took a few years out when my kids were small and during that time my specialised industry shrank to nothing, meaning I had to move industry. If I am honest I do have a bit of a chip on my shoulder about that but I try to get on with it. And I do genuinely enjoy my job and the company.

The average age of my department is very young. The majority of my colleagues are more than a decade younger than me, but most of the time we don't notice the age difference and we get along well. It's just a few little comments that have started to get to me. I'll try to give a few examples.

I was talking about a popular song. It is from the late 80's but still played on the radio and TV a lot now. A couple of the younger women had never heard of it, and made comments like "How would I have heard of it, I was a baby". Er, I have heard of songs from the 60's and I wasn't born then either!

Then another time I was making an observation that there was nobody over 45 in our department, and I made a joke about getting shipped off to the glue factory... one of my colleagues suggested seriously that perhaps the pressure gets too much at that age and they have to slow down in their career. This is not a high pressure job by any stretch.

Another example is we were talking about how to deal with a situation, and I made the comment that "you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar". I was met with blank stares. When I acted surprised that nobody had heard of that expression, it was suggested that perhaps it was a "generational" thing. I am 12 years older than the person who said that, FFS! Then another chipped in and said, oh we can swap, you can teach me old sayings and I can teach you young words like bae. Because obviously anyone over 40 doesn't watch TV or use social media.

So am I being oversensitive and AIBU to let this get to me?

OurBlanche Wed 06-Jul-16 12:40:56

I think you have set yourself up a bit... they are gettng a rise and are enjoying it. They may even think you are joining in and find it equally amusing.

Get a grip or really get a grip. You can enjoy their 'witty banter' and smile or you can frown and be the office grump - thus proving them right!

Truth is you are a generation older than most of them, almost. Relax and enjoy the job.

sharknad0 Wed 06-Jul-16 12:41:56

It sounds like you are over reacting.

It doesn't sound that you are being treated differently because of your age, but that you are the one who has a massive issue with it. No one should know your age unless you tell them or make it obvious for a start. 10 years difference between 2 adults are nothing at all.

Look at the school gates, I have 40 year old friends with young kids who look a lot younger than some 25 year old. Compare the Duchess of Cambridge with Mary of Denmark, the age difference is very far from obvious.

I really wouldn't worry about it if I were you. I probably look a lot older than the young ones in my office, but I have no interest in drinking all night or going clubbing anymore, I am very comfortable in being a grown-up

myownprivateidaho Wed 06-Jul-16 12:43:16

None of this is ageism.

Huldra Wed 06-Jul-16 12:56:15

Agree that none of that is ageism.

They are responding to things that have come out of your mouth.

The song. They were being factual.
The glue factory song. You set yourself up for that, don't make comments that point out your age differences in future.
The saying. I am 46 and whilst I know the phrase it is something that my grandma would say. It's as simple as she hadn't heard it before.

MollyTwo Wed 06-Jul-16 13:25:45

Sounds like you are really looking to be offended. All those examples do not seem like ageism.

limitedperiodonly Wed 06-Jul-16 13:32:10

It's probably teasing rather than spite - I used to do it was I was in my 20s. Now I'm 52, and it happens to me, I realise that I wasn't being amusing, I was being really annoying.

I can't go back in time but I wish that I could because I didn't mean any harm, but now realise how vulnerable I made my older colleagues feel.

So no, it's not intentional ageism, but it has the same effect and you are not being oversensitive.

Just bring it up every time. If they're nice, but thoughtless, just say it's unkind, they'll get it; but if they're pisstakers, look concerned and say things like: 'Don't you know that? God, you're really quite stupid, aren't you?'

One day, when I was a whippersnapper of 38, someone asked me my age and then said: 'My mum's the same age' and smirked.

I said: 'So young enough to try for a baby that's fucking smarter than you?' Her lip started to wobble so I told her to stop being such a baby.

It takes longer for some people than others to catch on that you're not there for their amusement, but eventually it sinks in.

TheNaze73 Wed 06-Jul-16 13:32:59

YABVU, sounds like you're trying to provoke them

HazelBite Wed 06-Jul-16 13:41:00

This is not ageism, if you can keep up with their banter etc it should not be a problem, I think you are over reacting somewhat.
By the way I'm 64, work with people of all ages as long as you treat everyone the same and with respect, there should not be a problem.

Did you pick up on the comment about slowing down their career and laugh at it? I think it was said perhaps to wind you up!

I think you are being a bit sensitive, when you have been there a few years and become part of the furniture I'm sure you will relax more and not notice these things.

Could it be that you lack a little confidence about your abilities in this new role and its affecting your outlook on your colleagues and your behaviour around them?

ilovesooty Wed 06-Jul-16 13:53:24

I loathe ageism with a passion but this is not ageism as far as I can see.
The issue here is yours and your comments are bound to provoke the responses you got. I'm way older than most of my colleagues and I don't think you have any cause to complain of ageism at all.

BIWI Wed 06-Jul-16 13:58:32

the only example that's in any way ageism is the comment about the over 45s slowing down. The rest are just observations or reactions to things that you've said, that reflect their age/lack of experience.

I hate ageism in any form, but I think you are overreacting a bit here.

DiggersRest Wed 06-Jul-16 13:59:57

Thank God the general consensus is it's not ageism. Getting older sux OP but it is a part of life. I bet you felt a little smug when you were younger about all the possibilities life held. That's the joy of youth. Botox doesn't bring that back, just makes us all think it's not ok to age.

Ageism would be you not getting the job because you're old(er) than your work colleagues.

I really wish ageism would stop being thrown around for things that are natural. Next we'll hear mother nature's an ageist bitch for making us stop being able to have babies when we get older.

ElleGrace Wed 06-Jul-16 14:12:26

I'm another one who's not sure this is ageism. It's just how humans interact; conversation will sometimes evolve around your similarities and sometimes your differences.
I often found myself surrounded by older employees in my last job. They were always making jokes about me only just being born whilst they were getting married, having kids etc. They also joked when I didn't understand certain sayings, or couldn't join in my conversation on a certain famous person that was before my time. I never had a problem with it- it was an obvious difference between myself and them, so therefore it was a focal point for conversation. That is how humans communicate.
It is no different to you having a winge about labor pain, and telling the only male colleague that he's lucky not to have ever experienced it, or having a conversation about the rising price of steak and your friend saying that it doesn't affect them because they don't like steak. I don't think anyone was being sexist, or steak-ist in those scenarios.

branofthemist Wed 06-Jul-16 14:15:10

Non of this is ageism. Even the comment about slowing down. You were all musing about why everyone was young in the department. Someone put forward a theory, which may or may not be true. You may not find the job high pressures, but they might. Any theory put forward would have put people into a box. If you don't want to hear people's wondering a don't engage in discussions.

The other two examples are you being very over sensitive.

Fezzik Wed 06-Jul-16 15:19:47

Thanks for the responses. I accept that I've been over-sensitive and that the comments have been thoughtless at worst.

Limitedperiodonly thanks for understanding how I feel. Like you I'm certain that I made similar comments when I was younger and I cringe to look back on them.

Alisvolatpropiis Wed 06-Jul-16 15:45:43

You are being oversensitive (as you have acknowledged) but I do find the music thing odd.

I'm 27 and had a totally bizarre conversation with a 23 year old not so long ago where it transpired that she couldn't name a song by pretty much any major artist or group pre 2000. I felt like I was in a parallel universe!

LurkingHusband Wed 06-Jul-16 15:57:55

Interestingly (speaking as an old git) one of the emerging themes for the workplace of the future seems to be a much more diverse spread of ages. Quite aside from having to work on, and the demographic unevenness of the baby-boomers, it seems future workplaces need to recognise this (and some already are).

limitedperiodonly Wed 06-Jul-16 16:17:30

Alis that's just ridiculous. Last week, when they were commemorating the Battle of the Somme, I had no difficulty singing along to It's A Long Way To Tipperary smile. Some pop songs stick in your brain no matter how old they or you are.

More impressive was that I read this week that two years ago the Welsh football team delayed going home and took a 150 mile detour to visit war graves when they'd played Belgium. They only drew that time.

England expects Wales to do us proud tonight grin

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