How Not to Act Old at Work

Hint: Don’t bring the donuts.

By Pamela Redmond Satran • Guest Writer
Bet she never acted old in her day.
Photograph: Photo by iStock

Don’t arrive at the crack of dawn and make everybody feel guilty for not being there as early as you. If you’re bushy-tailed and at your desk by 6:35, at least have the good grace to keep your mouth shut about it.

Don’t bring the donuts. You don’t need to be Mommy or Daddy to the entire office, showing up with coffee, remembering all the birthdays, making sure everybody signs the card.

Stifle the self-aggrandizing anecdotes. Reminiscing about the year you almost won the Pulitzer or that time you saved the company a million dollars won’t convince people you’re cooler than they already think you are.

Don’t be tough. The young gestalt is much softer and less direct. People ask questions and seem to defer to others even when they have a strong opinion. And if they want to do it their way anyway, they’ll just go ahead without discussion or confrontation.

Don’t stay glued to your chair. Rolling everywhere, avoiding getting up and walking across the room, and sitting there till your ass grows around the cushion is definitely acting old—and won’t do much for the way you look, either.

No long-range planning. Looking too far ahead, wanting firm commitments on times and places far (i.e., more than a day or two) into the future, is definitely an old thing. If you simply must plan (I know I must), do it in secret and be flexible if things change.

Don’t be a human archive. There may be value in having someone at a company who can detail the résumés of everyone who has held a job there since 1981, who can remember what year manual typewriters were upgraded to electrics and when secretaries were replaced by voice mail. But there isn’t much value in letting that person be you.

From How Not to Act Old: 185 Ways to Pass for Phat, Sick, Hot, Dope, Awesome, or at Least Not Totally Lame by Pamela Redmond Satran. Copyright 2009 by Pamela Redmond Satran. Published by Harper Paperbacks, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

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First Published September 2, 2010

Share Your Thoughts!


Alexandra Rue04.14.2012

Where did my just posted comment go?

Alexandra Rue04.14.2012

I am the oldest person working in my building of about 48 people. I try not to act like a pain in the neck, but otherwise I have no desire to act like a young'un. I am who I am,and I am more than fine with that. I've never arrived at the crack of down (how awful!), I've never brought the donuts (or anything else), and I've always been rather quiet and retiring. I'm the oldest person in my building, but far from the one with the most longevity. I do shock once in a while with "before we had desktop computers" but only because it is so unfathomable, and it really hasn't been that many years ago. Well, yeah, I guess it has. Anyway, I'm pefectly happy being who I am because I get to retire in a couple years, and there's no way on earth that I want to be looking forward to being in the workforce for another twenty or thirty years. I'm not particularly concerned whether the twenty or thirty year olds in the building like me or not. I do my job and do it well and have their respect in that area. But I don't want to sit at lunch and listen to their titter tatter about clothes and television shows. I like to hear about their boyfriends and families, but I do not like hearing about revolving, serial boyfriends and live ins and all of the attending upheaval that goes with it. I think, grow up, use your head, you are selling yourself short, I heard this last week and the week before and the week before. They don't want my advice and I don't give it. What can I say. I AM the oldest person in the building.

Leslie Claire04.02.2012

Or, How to Act Like a Vapid Little Slacker.

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