Hey – we may as well have fun as we go sliding into old age, right?

Posts tagged ‘workplace’

The Joys of Air Travel: Why We Relate to That Jet Blue Guy

The person who has received America’s attention and collective fascination this past week was Steven Slater – that Jet Blue flight attendant who wigged out, cursed a passenger, grabbed a couple of beers, and slid down an emergency exit slide in New York. 

I’ll confess – my first thought was “he’s my hero!”  Anyone who has dealt with the public (waiters, flight attendants, civil servants, customer service reps, etc.) has had days when they wanted to do what he did, even if just for a second.  We’ve all thought that we were about to reach our limit, and that we might just feel better if we told a customer/co-worker/employer exactly what we thought of them. 

But Slater didn’t just say “take this job and shove it.”  No, Mr. Slater went out with a lot more style.  First, he cursed the passenger who supposedly offended him.  Then he thanked other passengers who were more pleasant.  Then he grabbed a few brewskies (perhaps not his first beers of the day from the sounds of it), deployed the emergency slide, and leapt out of the plane.  I mean seriously – the movies couldn’t have designed a funnier way to go!  And after all this, he headed home, where he was ultimately arrested.

This scenario is one of those things most workers only dream of.  We sit at a bar after work and laugh about all the ways we could tell off our customers and walk off the job.  “One of these days, I’ll tell a customer to make their own stupid ‘not-quite-but-almost-rosy-pink-in-the-center’ hamburger!”  “I’d love to be able to start cursing back at these customers who think they can just scream at me over the phone!”  “If the boss tells me one more time that I’m not making quota, I’m going to tell him to do the job himself and see how he does!” 

As long as it remains just cocktail talk for a few laughs with friends, it’s healthy venting.  I don’t think any of us actually considers following up on our daydreams of going out with a splash.  Most of us are mature enough to understand the consequences of those actions.  Laughter and camaraderie relieve the stress of dealing with the public these days.  And when we relieve the stress, we can keep doing our jobs. 

At first I was shocked to read some of the online comments from flight attendants regarding how they have been treated by passengers.  What on earth gives passengers the perception that they have free rein to curse at, yell at, laugh at, or throw things at a flight attendant?  They’re just trying to do their job.  But they are increasingly performing that job in a volatile environment.  And flying can bring out the worst in people.

Air travel can bring even the nicest, most pleasant people to the edge of their nerves these days.  Remember when flying used to be a glamorous way to travel?  Today, the first line you hit is checking in, and it doesn’t even end with speaking to a smiling ticket agent anymore.  Now you wait and drag your bags along through the roped-off zigzagging line, only to have someone point you in the direction of a machine – get your own damn ticket from the kiosk, thank you very much.  You pay for your checked bag, knowing that your carefully packed clothes are probably going to be rifled through and left in a tangled wad in the suitcase as they check for dynamite residue of whatever. 

Then you march to the next long line, where you have to take off your shoes, take off your coat, take off your belt and jewelry, pull out your laptop, pull out your baggie with all your 3 oz. liquid bottles inside, and march through a metal detector, only to have to put all those clothes back on and repack your bags at the end of the line with plastic bins full of everyone else’s belongings rolling at you at high speed. 

By now, you and your fellow passengers are getting grumpy in a hurry (and not just the cranky Boomers!).  You’re tired, hot, hungry and thirsty.  And you still have to find the right moving sidewalk (aka: conveyor belt) to get yourself to the proper gate.  The passengers who didn’t give themselves enough time to get through the torturous lines are now sprinting down the moving sidewalks, careening into people as their wheeled baggage bounces along behind them.  I once let out a “Hey!” after some guy almost knocked me over in Detroit, and instead of an apology I got a “Kiss my ass!” in response.  Nice. 

Don’t even get me started on airport food, with few exceptions.  Washington International has a Five Guys burger joint that’s terrific (but you’ll be facing yet another line).  Charlotte has a nice assortment of places, and they have those great rocking chairs sitting all over to rest in if you have the time. 

When you’re finally ready to get on the plane (if it shows up on time, if the crew is ready, and if the weather is cooperating), you’re back in line again.  Even with assigned seating, it’s a rush to board, because everyone wants to grab the overhead bins for their enormous carry-ons.  Now that checked baggage has a fee, people are getting ridiculous with their carry-ons.  You can tell that some of these things weigh fifty pounds or more.  Despite the airlines’ best efforts to show the maximum size, everyone pushes the limit.  And heaven forbid if someone has to be stopped from taking their carry-on onboard with them – then the real battles begin.   

So yes, I guess I can see how passengers might be tempted to take their many frustrations out on flight attendants, even if it is the wrong thing to do.  And I can understand how flight attendants can look so haggard at the end of a shift.  They’ve been dealing with our vitriol all day (or night) long.  It has to take a toll. 

It’s fun to laugh at Steven Slater’s meltdown, but we all know his response to the situation was really immature, and he’ll have to face the consequences for his actions.  He’s not really a hero – he’s just someone who’s in a situation that we can identify with in these stressful times.

I always try to be polite when traveling, but I know I don’t always succeed.  The next time I travel, I will make a serious effort to be more kind to my flight attendants and fellow passengers.  A few more smiles and laughs might go a long way towards relieving the tension of air travel, and if we all give it a try, the skies might start being more friendly again.

Learn to Speak “ESPN”, Ladies!

Fenway Park, Home of the Boston Red Sox

I have come to the conclusion that in business, talking sports can be a really good idea for women.  Before I go any further, let me throw out a few disclaimers here.  Rest assured that I am NOT a proponent for women “acting like a man” to get ahead in business.  I think women bring their own special gifts to the workplace, and that we can succeed just fine by acting like ourselves.  Don’t allow anyone to patronize you or dismiss you in any way.  And yes, I understand that there are plenty of men who could care less about sports, and that’s just fine, too.    

But business is all about relationships, and the best way to build a relationship is to find areas you have in common with the other person.  When you’re a woman in the business world, sports is usually a great ice-breaker.  I discovered this by accident years ago.  I always was a sports fan to a certain degree.  I am particularly enamored with NASCAR racing.  People are always surprised by that – I refer to myself as a “closet redneck”.  I’m watching the race in Pocono as I type this.  Seriously.

Anyhow…I was sitting in the break room at the large call center where I was a manager about ten years ago, having lunch with some of the male managers there.  It was a Monday, and one of the guys mentioned the weekend’s auto race.  He said something disparaging about “my” driver’s involvement in an accident, and I jumped in with a detailed rebuttal explaining why it was really some other guy’s fault.  Along with the surprised looks of “hey, she knows NASCAR!”, I saw something else in the eyes of these guys who were always polite but never exactly friends.  They were looking at me like I suddenly existed.  If you’re a working woman, you know what I mean.  When I saw them looking at me with that strange expression (“Who is this woman?” “Why didn’t we know she was cool before?”), a light bulb went off. 

But not all guys love NASCAR, so I decided to experiment.  I’d sit with the guys and jump into their conversations about baseball, football, basketball, whatever was the sports du jour.  And here’s what I learned then, and since then.

1.        Don’t fake it.  There may be times when you can fake it with men (get your mind out of the bedroom – I’m talking about the times we refer to our brand new shoes as “what, these old things?”).  Sports isn’t one of those times when you can fake it.  Don’t say you saw the fantastic play they’re talking about unless you really saw it (even if it was just in highlights).  It’s okay to say “Yeah, I heard about that catch – they said it was awesome!”.  Don’t gush about what a great game it was just because you saw the score and the home team won.  It’s embarrassing to find out that the win came at the cost of the best player being injured, or that they blew a 10-point lead and barely hung on for the win.  Yes, it’s a win, but it’s what’s referred to as “an ugly win”.  You don’t brag about ugly wins.  You breathe sighs of relief that the team pulled it off.  Learn the lingo, ladies.

2.       Pick a team to cheer for.  You’ll look like an idiot if you rave about how much you love baseball, and then, when one of the guys asks you which team you follow, you gush “oh, I love them all!”  Only dweebs say that.  You’d be much better off saying you don’t follow the sport.  It’s always a safe bet to back the hometown team.  But don’t say you follow them if you’re not ready to do at least a little homework (learn a few names, watch the local scores, etc.).  If you really want to stand out and be bold, then follow a different team than everyone else.  But if you’re going to do that, be ready to take the heat and the “trash talk” (that’s sports lingo for someone belittling you and everything you stand for to throw you off your game).  And also be ready to step it up – you’d better really know your stuff if you’re going to be a Red Sox fan in Yankee country.  Trust me, I know this first-hand. 

3.       Watch ESPN. Really.  You don’t have watch it 24/7.  You don’t have to watch entire games.  But watch “SportsCenter”.  The show runs basically all the time.  Not exactly, but it seems that way – they’ve run more than 30,000 episodes.  It’s on and off throughout the day (and night).  It’s the “CliffNotes” version of the sports world, and you can learn a lot in just one 10 minute segment.  If you want to know enough sports to sound authentic, just watch 10 – 20 minutes of “SportsCenter” every morning.  The show quickly runs through multiple sports headlines, and shows the best and worst plays of the day/week/whatever in their “Top Ten” and “Not Top Ten” clips.  A nice plus is that it’s also pretty entertaining, with some good humor.  Watching it won’t kill any brain cells, I promise.

4.       Be prepared to surprise yourself.  As I’ve mentioned, I never considered myself a true sports fan – other than the stock car thing.  Okay – I’ve always loved the beautiful corny poetry of American baseball in general (confession: “Field of Dreams” is my favorite movie ever), but I really didn’t follow specific teams.  When I met my Boston-raised husband, I was instantly brought into the world of Red Sox baseball, Patriots football, and Celtics basketball (I just can’t get into hockey…).  So those became “my teams” when I wanted to talk sports.  I don’t live in Boston.  I live in New York.  So I have taken a fair amount of heat.  I had to keep up with the teams to hold my own.  And a funny thing happened.  I started to really enjoy it!   Okay, it helps that all three teams have won at least one championship in the past few years (the best way to shut up the trash talk is to win), but even in the tough years, I’m still having fun.

I have learned that guys aren’t aliens when they start talking sports.  Sports can be cool.  Don’t just walk away when the sports talk starts, or when ESPN pops up on the television screen.  And, if you want to learn how to open conversations at work, or in any public setting where you want to build relationships (like the corner bar…), learn at least a little bit about sports.  Keep yourself up to date by scanning the headlines and watching a little “SportsCenter” .  You’ll be surprised what some sports knowledge can do for you, and you may even find yourself liking it!

Women Dress For Women, Silly!

A few days ago, a co-worker told me that his wife was going out that evening with her friends for a “girls night out”.  He shook his head as he commented that he didn’t understand why they always got all dressed up “just to have dinner together.”  I just laughed and said “Silly boy, women dress up for other women, not for men!” 

And let’s admit it – it’s true.  We worry far more about the opinions of our female friends than our men when it comes to fashion, don’t you think? 

Even back in high school, we watched the girls’ magazines to determine how to dress.  Why?  Because we wanted to fit in with what was “cool” at the moment.  My favorite outfit ever (sadly, no pictures) was an outfit that featured crushed robin’s egg blue velvet hot pants and a creamy satin top, with a long, hip-length velvet vest to match.  It was a dressy outfit (seriously!), and I wore it with cream-colored lace stockings, off-white sandals, and a long, swinging necklace.  I was groovy in that outfit, let me tell you!  And while my boyfriend (Ken – what a sweet kid) may have appreciated the hemline, he surely didn’t care about the time I’d taken in color-coordinating the ensemble.  For example, he didn’t care, or even know, that it was “robin’s egg blue”, but my girlfriends did.

If we really dressed for men, we’d still be wearing hot pants and mini-skirts today.  They never would have let us stray into midi-skirts, and then to the 80’s “office girl” attire of plaid skirts and blouses with bows under our chins.  Did we then turn to those “Dynasty”-inspired suits with football player shoulder pads for the opinion of men?  I doubt they were impressed. 

Even in those “meat market” bars of our single days, where we admittedly dressed with a particular goal in mind….when we weren’t checking out the guys, we were checking out the other women and assessing the competition.

Of course, I know that the correct response to who women should dress for is to say that we should dress for ourselves.  Bunk.  Yes, comfort is important, and more so as we grow older, but still….   The days I “dress for myself”  (baggy pants, rumpled loose shirt, baseball cap, old sneakers) are the days I’m mortified to run into someone I know at the grocery store.  My mortification is proof that I’m not really dressing for myself after all. 

No, women follow the fashion trends because we want the acknowledgement of other women.  When a man comments on fashion, it’s usually no more than a “nice dress”, or the ever-generic “you look nice.”  But when our fellow women notice an outfit, we get far more detailed feedback:  “That color looks great on you!”, “Pretty blouse – is that silk?”; “I love that outfit – is it new?”, and our favorite – “Fabulous!  Where did you find that?”  Why is that the favorite?  Because it allows us to display our shopping prowess among our peers.  Very similar to the guys bragging about how they beat par on the country club’s toughest hole – the story has to be told with a bit of bravado.

My husband scolded me once for telling another woman that my dress, which she admired, had been found, tags still on, at the church rummage sale for $5.00.  After she gasped and praised me, we giggled together over for my great bargain.  But Hubby thought I should have told her I found it at an expensive department store for far more money, as if there were shame in buying something on sale. 

I tried to explain to him that, unlike a man’s preoccupation with how much they spent, women honor bargain-hunting skills.  She admired that red polka dot dress far more because I’d found such a bargain with it.  “Can you believe I found this on the sale rack at Macy’s for 80% off?”  “Oh, you like these slacks?  I got them at Kohl’s for 8 bucks!”  When we get a great buy, we’re not only seen as fashionable by our women friends, but we’re also seen as wise shoppers.  Skilled hunters, if you will.

To be clear here – I’m not saying that every morning I stand in angst, trying to decide which outfit I should wear to impress women at the office.  Good grief, I barely have my eyes open in the morning, much less being able to function at that kind of level.  No.  I’ve made my purchases, and have a closet full (over-flowing actually, with two sizes of everything, but I digress….) of clothing that I know meets the standards of acceptable fashion.  So I guess I really am dressing for myself at that point, but that’s because I’ve already selected the clothes based on the women I see in fashion magazines and on TV.  I’m not a clothes-horse, but I have enough style to get by.  I don’t fret about what other women wear, but I notice.

Of course we dress up for “girls night out”!  We fuss over our clothes, our shoes, our purses.  We check our hair and make-up, too.  We may do the same for dinner with our husbands, but they see it as us “looking nice”.  Our friends observe us as a complete package – “Oh, my God, where did you get that bag?”; “Did you just get your hair colored?  It looks great!”;  “Those shoes look fabulous with that dress! Are they the ones you got on sale last week?” 

Somehow putting this in writing makes it sound just a little shallow, but it’s not.  It’s reassuring to us to know that we have our “woman” act together, even after all these years.  That’s empowering.  It’s good to know that we’ve got each other’s backs (while we covet each other’s handbags).  Thanks, girls!

Stupid Things I’ve Done While Driving

Driving home from the gym this morning, I heard the radio DJ talking about an accident somewhere in Pennsylvania, caused when the driver tried to change his shoes while driving.  Basically, anything one does while driving a vehicle, other than the actual driving of said vehicle, is stupid.  Propelling a several-thousand-pound hunk of steel down a highway at 70 mph is a pretty serious responsibility, and it deserves more than a fleeting amount of attention. 

But we’ve all done it – we’ve all “multi-tasked” while driving, putting ourselves and everyone else on the road at risk.  Here’s my list of transgressions.  It should be noted that most of these were done well in my past, and I’ve learned a thing or two with age.  Or maybe I just can’t multi-task as well as I used to.  Can you add any tasks I haven’t thought of trying?  Hey – keep your mind out of the gutter – I’m not THAT stupid, and hopefully neither are you!

  1.  EATING:  I know, this one’s a no-brainer.  Is there anyone who hasn’t eaten while driving?  That’s why they have drive-through windows, right?  I’ll admit, this is one I haven’t given up, especially on long trips.  The key is to find something neat and well-contained to eat while driving.  Keep the wrapper on half the burger, and start eating on the side where the ketchup is already over-flowing to avoid having a lapful.  Try to find something that doesn’t require a lot of eye contact – I’ve never thought that ice cream cones were a good choice, because you have to watch what you’re doing. 
  2. MAP-READING:  It’s always a better idea to stop the car to read the maps, assuming you don’t have a passenger that can handle being the navigator for your trip.  Generally, my husband drives and I tackle the maps.  This task may be going the way of the Dodo bird though, as everyone embraces GPS technology and paper maps start becoming obsolete.  I’ll miss them.  There’s something very comforting about unfolding a map and seeing your entire journey laid out before you, rather than seeing it in small bites of data.
  3. MAKE-UP APPLICATION:   Ladies, if you’re a non-morning person like me, applying make-up in the car can become a flat-out necessity.  There have been times when I habitually put all my make-up on during my morning commute.  I’ve never worn a ton of make-up, but it was still quite a process.  I’d try to focus on maximizing my time at stop lights, frantically brushing on blush and mascara.  As long as I wasn’t the first car in line, I didn’t need to watch the actual traffic light.  I just had to keep the brake lights of the car in front of me in my line of sight.  When their brake lights went off, it was usually a signal that the light had changed and I needed to apply at least a little of my attention to the road.  And on mornings when the traffic lights didn’t cooperate?  Yes, I confess…I drove down the road while watching the rearview mirror or vanity mirror on the back of the visor, and I applied blush, mascara and lipstick at 50 mph or more.  The biggest risk of harm (disregarding the risk of causing an accident) was mascara – one little bump and the mascara brush is in my eye – ouch.  The biggest risk of comical disaster was lipstick.  A good-sized pot hole could leave my lipstick running right up the side of my face.  I retired from make-up-while-driving a while ago, with the exception of lipstick.  But after all these years, I don’t even need a mirror for lipstick, unless I’m wearing something uncharacteristically dark or bright.  I can generally put on my lipstick without a glance in the mirror, and then, when I finally get to a light or my destination, I just check to make sure I haven’t done anything too embarrassing. 
  4. CHANGING SHOES/CLOTHING :   I don’t think I’ve ever tackled changing my clothes while driving, with the exception of shedding a coat or jacket.  But I have to admit I’ve changed shoes while driving.  For a couple of summers, I did it regularly.  My husband and I were in a couples golf league on Friday nights, and the course was over 30 miles from my place of employment.  The highways were always busy on summer Friday nights, with everyone headed north (the direction I was headed) to camp and boat for the weekend.  I was always the last person to get to the golf course (does this sound like a list of excuses?).  My husband would often be waiting in the parking lot with the golf cart fully loaded, barking at me to “get in!”  So yes, I changed shoes while I drove.  How?  Well, I’d remove the right shoe quickly, and drive with a sock, then quickly slip on the right shoe.  Then do the same with the left foot.  Could I tie them as I drove?  Uh, no.  As foolish as I was, I wasn’t that crazy.  But, if I caught a long traffic light along the way, I would certainly take advantage of it to tie my golf shoes!  That long, hectic, stressful commute was the primary reason we dropped out of the league after two summers.  It generally took me three holes just to settle my nerves from the mad rush to get there. 
  5. CELL PHONES:  Ah, the bane of the 21st century.  How did we live without them?  And how can we get back there again?  Today we are forever tethered to the world at large through our cell phones.  Don’t get me wrong – I adore my Blackberry(s).  I love having email and internet access while I’m traveling.  But I do seriously try to avoid using it in any way while driving.  For one thing, it’s illegal in New York.  For another, it’s really irresponsible to think you can look at a phone screen and drive a car at the same time.  Far too many people have died trying.  I’ve been behind the wandering vehicles of people who are clearly looking down at their phones instead of up at the road.  With all that said, I have, on rare occasions, used my phone while driving.  I use a hands-free device to  talk, and I don’t think I’ve ever typed a message while driving.  But I have read messages while driving (I know, I know).  And I have pulled up internet weather maps and GPS maps on occasion as I drove.  There’s just something so compelling about smart phones, and we convince ourselves that we MUST have access to information immediately.  But is there really anything that can’t wait until we reach our destination?  Or that we couldn’t have done before we got behind the wheel?

The older we get, the smarter we get, right?  Which means we should be smart enough by now to just drive, and pay attention to what we’re doing.  I’m going to really, really try to cut back even more on distractions while I drive.  Lately, I’ve been leaving the Blackberry in my purse, instead of pulling it out where it’s handy, “just in case”.  I want to go sliding into old having fun, but not on a hospital gurney!  Let’s all try to be more careful out there, okay? 

If you can think of anything silly you’ve done while driving that I haven’t mentioned, please share!

NOTE TO MY SUBSCRIBERS:  You may have noticed I skipped nearly an entire week of posting.  Sorry, but I’m slowly moving my normal posting day to Sunday/Monday.  Trying to publish a post mid-week proved to be a bit challenging with a full-time job.  The natural solution, of course, would be to write them ahead of time, but I’m a deadline-driven gal, and I’ve spent too many bleary-eyed Tuesday nights frantically finishing a blog.  Thanks for understanding!

The Joys of Smugness

Growing older (not “old”, mind you, but older) has its advantages.  Sure, I can sigh over the physical changes I see in the mirror on a regular basis, but there are a lot other things I end up embracing.  Wisdom is certainly one of them. 

Many people talk about their new-found “wisdom” as they grow older.  They make it sound very zen-like – becoming an elder is a sign of honor.  Elders are respected and revered because they have gained the wisdom of life.  We are the beautiful wise ones.  Light the candles and honor us with your gifts and praise.  If we are suitably impressed, we may even impart some of our wisdom upon you.    

Wisdom’s cool, I guess.  It’s earned with years and experiences that the younger folks just don’t have, and after all we’ve been through, if we haven’t gained some knowledge along the way, what’s the point?  When asked, we can definitely share this wisdom.  The problem is, no one asks.

It reminds me of a summer ten years ago, when we had our boat docked at a marina that faced a water area that included a deep channel bordered with a very shallow, rocky area along the shoreline.  Although clearly marked with buoys to warn of danger, and plainly indicated on nautical charts, people with smaller boats inevitably thought they could take a short cut.  Those short cuts always ended with the bang of a propeller smacking into the rocky bottom.  There was a picnic area behind our boat docks, and we would all sit and watch.  Early in the season, we would see the occasional small power boat approaching the rocky shallows, and we would stand and try to wave them out to the deeper water.  The response was one of two extremes:  they would smile and wave back us, assuming we were just being friendly; or they’d flip us a finger gesture, apparently assuming that we were snobs who didn’t want their pesky boat near our beautiful marina.  Despite our best efforts, we never managed to get a boat to avoid problems.  After a month or so of trying to be good Samaritans, and watching boaters ding their props on the rocks anyway, we finally gave up.  Instead of leaping to our feet in warning, we’d quietly say “here comes another one” and we’d wait and watch, shaking our heads is wise sadness when someone disregarded the warnings and encountered the clearly marked shallows.  We no longer accepted responsibility for their careless actions.  Right or wrong…it was a nice feeling.  [disclaimer:  there was no danger of physical harm in this example – that would clearly be a different matter]

I feel that same sense more and more often these days.  The young and foolish dive into dangerous waters that we could definitely tell them to avoid.  But would they listen?  Probably not.  And should they?  Probably not.  After all, how will they gain their own worldly wisdom without learning a few lessons along the paths of their own lives? 

And so we watch, and smile.  Or perhaps shake our heads sadly, knowing we’re viewing a potential train wreck, and knowing that, unless asked for, our advice is unwanted. 

There’s a certain feeling I get when I listen to someone in their twenties telling me of their plans for their lives.  I’m feeling my own life experience just dying to burst forth with advice, and yet I know they don’t care.  I’m mentally sitting back and quietly thinking “there goes another one.”  I’m being smug.  It’s kinda cool.  I just smile and listen.  You know that old saying – “Life is what happens while you’re making plans”?  Well, that old saying surely came from someone in their fifties who had learned the folly of making plans first-hand.  It came from someone who was confident, wise, and smug.  And at the time they said it, no one under forty paid attention.

“Well, first I’ll finish my degree, then I think I’ll spend a year in Europe just bumming around (maybe I’ll find a sexy Italian!), I’ll spend some time in Monaco, and then I’ll come home and get serious, get a job and get married.  I don’t want children until after I’ve gotten my masters degree, established my career and we have a house in suburbs.  Thirty-two would be a good time to start a family.  We’ll have two boys and girl, and they’ll be athletic/artistic/scholarly…. blah blah blah….  Uh-huh.

I like being smug.  I like watching girls pick up magazines like Cosmopolitan, with articles  such as “15 Ways to Amaze Him in Bed.”  Honey, after a few years together, just showing up in bed interested in sex will amaze him, trust me.  There are no tricks required.  And if a guy requires tricks, walk away.  It simply isn’t worth the effort, because he’s more interested in experimenting than he is in pleasing you.

I enjoy listening to younger women talking about their guys from my smugness perch.   “He’s so obsessed with playing basketball right now, but he’ll settle down after the wedding.”  NOT!   “His mom gave him money to pay off his college loans, but he bought a new snowmobile instead – it’s awesome.”  RUN!  “Oh, my God!  We went to Myrtle Beach on vacation, and all he wanted to do was GOLF!  That’ll never happen again.”  OH YES IT WILL.  “He thinks he’s getting a big screen TV for Christmas, but I’m getting us a new bedroom suite instead.”  YEAH, HE’LL THINK THAT’S A MUCH BETTER IDEA…  “There’s just no room in the driveway for that old wreck of a hot rod he’s been fixing for years, so I told him yesterday that he has to sell it.”  CAN YOU SAY ‘DIVORCE COURT’? 

And fashion?  Oh, boy.  The ups and downs of hemlines, haircuts, bathing suits – – – yup, seen it all.  What goes up will come down, and vice versa.  “Stick with the classics, kiddies,” I think smugly.  But of course they won’t do that anymore than we did.  Raise your hands if you wore miniskirts with a maxicoat!  Hot pants?  Goucho pants (horrors!)?  Peasant tops?  Spandex and leg warmers?  Those ’80s power suits with five-inch shoulder pads?  A wise woman told me that if we wore something  the first time it was in style (hip-huggers, hot pants, etc.), then we are automatically too old to wear them the second time they come back in style. 

In the office?  I’ve been patronized, I’ve been bullied, I’ve had the best mentors, and the worst (and best) bosses.  I’ve been given incredible opportunities, and gone further than I probably “should have” without a college degree.  I do my best to mentor my employees and co-workers.  I’ve played all the corporate games through the years, and it always amuses me to see someone trying to “out-play” me.  Mind you, I don’t like playing silly games, but if I’m forced to do so against some fresh-out-of-college whipper-snapper, I’ll break ‘em like a twig.  Seriously.  And I’ll do it with a full and satisfying sense of smugness.

Let’s face it – we’re looking at the world through the lenses of vast experience, and yes, wisdom.  We should enjoy our hard-earned smugness as we watch the youngsters learn their way.  We’re not smug because we were any smarter then.  We’re smug because we made fools of ourselves just like they will, and we know that one day they’ll look back and cringe just like us.  We can’t, and shouldn’t, stop them.   Just smile and wish them luck.  Smugly.

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