Dear Perky Young Blonde.
Yes, you. I know you don’t know me, you probably can’t even see me. But I know you. You got my dream job. Yes, that job. The one we both interviewed for and that you got. I know you because I make it my business to look at everyone in the room, not just those most like me. Yes, you sat with the other perky blondes who probably got dream jobs over older, wiser women like me. That’s okay. I’m good. I mean it.
When we went around the room and introduced ourselves, I thought I’d hear how you must certainly be older than you look; you must certainly have YEARS of fabulous experience and education that qualified you for the job more. Much more than me or anyone else who applied. I nearly choked when I heard the year you graduated from nursing school. I own underwear older than your degree, PB. And when you said you had applied to various graduate schools, my head wanted to spin off my shoulders but somehow I kept it securely in place. I’ve already done that. With honors. While raising a family and working 60 hours a week. I have entries on my resume older than you, PB.
When you were directed to consult with me, you had no idea who I was. Even though I had introduced myself, explained my new position, and outlined my education and experience just as you had. I was as invisible to you as I was, apparently, to the hiring gods. I cannot prove, but certainly believe, that age discrimination was at work here.
As cruel fate would have it, I was offered a different job. And I will have to work with you. As ironic fate would have it, you will have to depend on me for a great many things. Like arranging hours in the skills lab and assistance with your clinicals. I believe every opportunity comes to us for a reason, and I am certain this position will lead me to the place I am supposed to land.
What I have before me is an opportunity to prove myself to those who chose your “qualifications” over mine. What I have here is an opportunity to prove that my white hair, near-orthopedic shoes, and crow’s feet do not disqualify me from being an outstanding educator, model employee, and innovative thinker. What I have here is an opportunity to be a gracious, supportive colleague for the good of the profession I love.
I am sick of traveling this high road, PB, but I’ll do it. After all, I was once young. Perky. And blonde.