I suppose in every job, there are certain irritating phrases you hear customers say all day. I’m working at the Norwegian Folk Museum (an open-air history musuem) this summer again, and I’m posting my dream reply to one of these annoying phrases here. I’m doing this to get it out of my system, because if I ever actually say it, I might just get myself fired from a job I love.
In reply to the comment: "I recognize this kind of furniture/kitchen appliance/architecture/brand name/etc. from when I was a child! My childhood is in a museum… does that mean I’m old?!?", I just really want to say:
I mean get over yourself. You’re – what? – three or four times my age? Of course you’re old.
If you expect me to smile politely and assure you that you don’t look a day over 29, you are deluding yourself, because that is not my job. My job is to provide you with information about history, and if that includes making you feel old, oh well. There is nothing I can say to make you feel better about being old as long as you yourself are ashamed of it. I could tell you that you probably know more about this particular historical artifact than I do, and I would love to learn from you. I could say that it must be wonderful to really have experienced history by witnessing the way everyday life has changed during your lifetime, and that I can’t wait to see the changes that happen during my own lifetime. But you would take both of these comments as a personal insult because they both confirm that I think you’re old, and you believe that translates into me thinking you’re ugly, fat, wrinkled and boring. I’m sorry, but it’s not my fault that our society has decided to glorify the teen-age years. Remember, I’m really young; I wasn’t even born when that decision was made! And I’m much younger than anyone selling anti-wrinkle creams or designing "Women’s" clothes that only fit fourteen-year-olds.
I really believe that being old is nothing to be ashamed of. It doesn’t make you inferior to me. What does make you inferior is the fact that you won’t admit to what you are, and that you are wasting my time and your own. A woman who describes herself as "a girl of 45" is pathetic. That doesn’t mean you can’t dress the way you want (within certain esthetic limits) or do what you want, but face the facts. Just as I have to face the facts by admiting that I don’t always have enough experience to figure things out on my own (contrary to popular opinion, I don’t think I know everything). By law, I am too young to do some of the things I want to do, and although I may complain about this, the laws are facts I have to live with (although I may make a mental note to change them if I ever have any power). And you have to live with the fact that you are old.
Have a nice day!"
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