Ageism is a funny thing. When you think about it most people picture a senior citizen being discriminated against rather than someone who’s younger. I can’t even find a photo or clipart of ageism toward younger people on the internet to share here – it’s all toward older folks. It’s probably why I get attitude on occasion at work when I offer my hand to someone stepping on or off our bus or help up from a chair. I get it. Getting old sucks and so does everyone assuming you can’t do anything anymore. It’s hard. But it’s also hard when those same people don’t respect you for being “too young”.
I’m writing this as an outlet – maybe to help spread some damn awareness. I had a particularly bad day at work with a particularly difficult resident and I left work for my weekend pretty upset.
I love my job. I really do. I work in the Activities department for a retirement community. It’s a five minute walk from my house. My boss is amazing, my department head, Shayna, is quite literally my best friend and the residents love us. We make a difference in people’s lives. Shayna tells people who ask about what we do that our business is people – and she’s right. We aren’t just exercise and outings, Bingo and doctor rides. We’re an outlet. They trust us. They cry on our shoulders and we cry with them. They tell us they love us, they hug us, they tell their families and friends about us. We deal with death, their deaths. We see their loneliness. And we are there for them. It is by far the most difficult job you’ll ever have trying to maintain professionalism. We work where they live. This is their home. We leave at the end of the day but they don’t. We are so much bigger in their lives than we realize. And maybe they’re bigger in all of our lives than we realize.
They also criticize us. They’re mean to us. They talk badly about us behind our backs – which we can hear by the way because we don’t need hearing aids. They yell at us.
And for what? They didn’t like the food at the restaurant we went to for lunch. They don’t approve of the way we drive. They think that because we are young enough to be their grandchildren – and WOMEN – that we don’t deserve respect.
Put them in their place when they’re being terrible? “You need to respect your elders.”
Disagree with them? “I’m 60 years older than you…”
We don’t matter.
And to be honest – I’m tired of their shit.
I’m tired of feeling like all the things that we do, that I do, don’t matter. I’m tired of feeling like nothing I do is good enough. I’m tired of feeling that those old people, the people who I work my ass of for, think down on me just because I am 32 years old and a woman. I don’t know anything. “Just wait until you’re 90” they say.
I have an opinion and it matters. I just want to scream it at them at times.
So – sometimes I wonder why I bother.
But then I remember that it’s only ten. Ten people. TEN PEOPLE who make me feel that way. Out of one hundred residents it’s only ten people who bitch and moan and complain and are just absolute awful shits.
So why do I do it?
For the other 90. For the ones who bring you a sweet treat just because, show you photo albums of their trips, trust you enough to cry with you and share their deepest fears.
If i’m going to make a point in this ramble of a post I want it to be this. It makes me angrier than I ever imagined to be judged over something I have no control over. So the lesson. Think about something you have no control over.
Your weight, your height, your skin color, your age, your gender, your sexual preference. Then think about someone judging you for that.
It could be the color of your eyes for god’s sake!
Think about it. Then stop judging those around you. Put yourself in other people’s shoes. Maybe someday we could make this a better place.
Be nice, Seattle.