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The Day Ageism Hit Me in the Face, But it Was Okay

The story of a job interview with a group of Seniors

By Lee J. Bentch Published about a year ago 3 min read
The Day Ageism Hit Me in the Face, But it Was Okay
Photo by Dylan Gillis on Unsplash

This story took place in the good old days of 2017. When no one wore face masks, nobody knew what Covid was, and there were no restrictions on mass gatherings, traveling, or mingling with friends at a bar.

Life at the time felt good.

In August of that year, the Texas Gulf Coast took a direct hit from Hurricane Harvey. It single-handily turned Southeast Texas into a disaster zone due to long-term, widespread flooding. Depending on the area, locations received anywhere between 35" to 60" of rain over two days.

Most bayous overran their banks, and the flood control district opened reservoir gates to minimize the potential of failure. Overall it was a mess.

Damage estimates are greater than $125 billion, making it the second-costliest storm in United States history. Its impact is still felt.

Following the storm, I had an opportunity to interview for a position with a major technology firm. The job sounded inviting enough for me to consider. Little did I know that the team I was interviewing with was my age and older. I was 64 at the time.

The day of the interview, I received a call that their building had sustained damage from the storm but had recently passed its occupancy inspection for floors two through ten. The offices were on the fourth floor.

The lady I spoke with told me I needed to take the staircase as the elevators were being inspected that day. She wanted to clarify I could climb the stairs, for which I had no problem.

Upon arriving, I was escorted to a conference room and offered a cup of coffee. Two guys introduced themselves and indicated their manager would be in shortly.

In conversation, we realized all three of us were on active duty with the US Air Force at the same time back in the seventies. My age radar began working at that point, calculating my age with their respective ages.

The manager showed up and, to my surprise, appeared considerably older than his team. I quickly realized I was speaking with a group of successful, senior individuals for which I fit right in.

We went through the usual introductions, small talk with typical interview questions, then the team leader said, "you're a great candidate, but I'm not going to hire you."

He went on to say, "I can tell you're in our age group. The requirements of the job are pretty intense. Let me introduce you to the guy you would be working with. We are looking for his clone."

At that point in walks a 24-year-old new college graduate. Young, energetic, and full of piss and vinegar. I was old enough to be his Grandfather.

This poor kid traveled three days a week and then spent his time onsite helping out the team. Many weeks he was logging in fifty to sixty hours. They were splitting his job into two.

I quickly figured out they wanted another young guy or girl for the position. I was also overqualified and happily dropped out of the race.

Their dilemma was they couldn't articulate that in the job description. I could've done the job, but I would have gotten frustrated quickly.

I had no feelings of discrimination. It was awkward for them as they did everything to keep from telling me I was too old. Although they were older than me, the situation created an interesting dilemma. I could tell it wouldn't work out.

Unfortunately, their division lost a significant contract with a hardware manufacturer six months later. The team I interviewed with all got laid off.

I enjoyed the conversation reminiscing back to the seventies in our Air Force days. It is a rare occasion to run into multiple fellow veterans who served at the same time in the same command as me.


About the Creator

Lee J. Bentch

I am a general interest author actively involved with technology and communications. My inspiration to write is multi-dimensional. I am a multi-service Veteran.with a Masters in Communications from the University of Northern Colorado.

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