I had my first division director job when I was 39. One of the supervisors in my division was nearing retirement age and she was a tough customer. She was abrupt and frequently inappropriate. There were several complaints about her. I strongly encouraged Virginia’s manager to deal with her behavior and the impact it was having on our work. Her response to me was always, ‘that’s just Virginia’. Virginia said she was ‘too old to change’.
I vowed at that time that I would not use my age and work longevity as an excuse for bad behavior. I am not going to say that I kept that vow 100% of the time over the years, but I tried to do my best.
I thought about Virginia when I read an article about a new book, Stupid Things I Won’t Do When I Get Old by Steven Petrow. The book is based on his New York Times essays.
I ordered it ($9 on Kindle) and have only skimmed it so far, but I think Petrow is onto something – and he is humorous to boot! He calls his book a ‘highly judgmental, unapologetically honest accounting of all the things our elders are doing wrong’.
He breaks the book into 3 sections.
Stupid Things I Won’t Do Today, such as:
- I won’t limit myself to friends my own age
- I won’t refuse to change my ways
- I won’t join the organ recital (every social event becomes a chorus of health complaints)
Stupid Things I Won’t Do Tomorrow, such as:
- I won’t hoard butter pats (or anything else)
- I won’t be ordering the early bird special
- I won’t stop enjoying myself
Stupid Things I Won’t Do at “The End”, such as:
- I won’t let anything stop me from saying I love you and goodbye
- I won’t let anyone else write my obituary
- I won’t be disappointed by my life
So far, this might well be one of my ‘must read’ books. I just wished I had more of Today left to stop doing stupid things!
We are all always the same age on the inside.Gertrude Stein