The man in the crisp, blue dress shirt and navy dress pants realized almost immediately that this meeting was a waste of time. He was excited about this job interview for days. He planned. He prepared. He pondered.
Although he was not interested in the company, he did leave this meeting with something of value: a realization.
The forty-something interviewee felt out of place as soon as he opened the door. The office was filled with people half his age. One employee sat in the company’s lobby, commenting on the price of one- and two-bedroom apartments. The company felt more like the study area in a dorm than a brick-and-mortar business.
He found himself wondering what these twenty-somethings were thinking as they looked over. Could they see the lines under his eyes? Did they notice his receding hairline? There was no doubt they would see his scalp through the head full of low-density hair he inherited from some poor sap in the family.
Thinking back to his college days, the man remembered how old his aunts and uncles seemed to him—how it never occurred to him that he would be that age one day. It didn’t seem mathematically possible.
The twenty-somethings wore jeans and t-shirts—one girl wore jean shorts and still-wet-from-the-shower hair slung up in a pony tail. The man waiting to be interviewed looked more like their dad who was visiting for parent’s week than a potential peer.
The interview was only for a part-time job, but the man walked away with the full-time realization that he could not work in an industry where he was as ancient as the sands of the desert or as outdated as a TV commercials from the Eighties.
Meanwhile, there is master’s program on the horizon.
The man starts a program this summer that will undoubtedly feature the same cast of supporting characters. He will be the oldest in a classroom of people and with full heads of hair, elastic skin tone, and boundless energy. He wants to pursue the degree but after this interview, it seems like self-torture to start an eighteen-month master’s program in which he feels miserable.
“Maybe it’s time to face some facts: keep the job you have—you already have an MBA—and forget the program, which would save another twenty thousand dollars in financial aid,” he thought on the drive home.
“Who exactly are you trying to impress?” he whispered inside the car. “Are they going to pay your loan payments six months after graduation?”
He sighed, while the engine hummed at a red light. All he wanted to do was get home to his family, and snuggle on the couch with his dog. Family, stability, marriage, home-ownership. Those are the benefits of growing older.
“I had my wild days,” the would-be student thought. “Can I really see myself working and going to school with people who only recently were legal to drink?
Pressing his oxblood penny loafer onto the the gas pedal, the job interview reject decided it was time to act his age—his MBA-holding, still-professional, and not-quite-done-yet age—and to live his life according to his rules, not acquiesing to others’ perceptions.
The man untucked his dress shirt. Like it, he was slightly wrinkled but still a good fit.