At B & N yesterday afternoon. Young woman, a little past college age, there with a group of friends, crowded together around a small table, all of them women, all of them college age or, like her, maybe a little older. Lots of movement back and forth between the table and the counter as lattes, frapacinos, coffees, and desserts are ordered and then fetched. This particular young woman stays put, though, because she’s in a conversation with a man at a table across the way.
Not that kind of conversation.
He’s a guy in his fifties, there with his wife. Old enough to be her father, but not acting fatherly towards her. Friend of her father, I’m guessing, someone who’s known her from way back and feels he can speak to her frankly, with I changed your diaper authority. Smooth bald crown, jutting chin, sweatshirt with some college’s coat of arms. I don’t like him.
“So,” the man’s saying, “What’s the new job?”
“Recruiter,” she says.
“Recruiter?” It’s as if she said she was a wheelwright or Chinese herbalist or a circus ringmaster. His tone practically accuses her of making up a job to pull his leg.
"I’m a recruiter,” she says again, with a note of apology, as if she’s had to explain this before, “Not with the military! I’m working for” She names a financial services company. “I recruit people for their tech department.”
“What does that involve?” the man asks imperatively. Apparently there’s a right and a wrong answer to this question, at least in his mind. I’m thinking, What are you, interviewing her? You’ve got a better job you’re going to offer her?
“I go out and find people to write the programs they use to figure out their trades.”
“Programmers,” he says, like a science teacher providing a particularly slow student with the technical term for the red stuff that flows through people’s veins.
She giggles nervously. “Yes. We call them technologists though.”
“They’re called programmers,” he says. “People who write programs are called programmers. Or coders. If they write code they’re called coders.”
At this point I wanted to jump in and tell him to stop raining on her parade. Just congratulate her and shut up. Sounds like a good job, a rare find in this economy, with what must be a good sized and growing company if they need that many “technologists” and someone in-house to help hire and keep track of them. And I’m guessing those couple of years that separate her from her college graduation day were filled with some stretches of unemployment. This is good news, be happy for her, and shut up.
Of course I don’t say any of that because it’s none of my business and if I put my oar in I’d be just like this guy, another middle-aged man treating her like a child. She’s old enough to tell him to buzz off herself and she isn’t doing it either because she’s too polite or she knows him well enough she’s used to his bullying or she just doesn’t think it’s worth the trouble.
But another guy, another middle-aged man, this one without my reluctance to butt in, at the home plate of the diamond our four collective tables form, turns to her and says, “Did you major in that in school?”
“No, I majored in psychology.”
“Psychology and philosophy,” she says brightly, “It was a dual major.”
“You sure put that degree to use then.”
If there were any justice in the world last night’s evening news would have included a story about a couple of middle-aged men who were chased out into a Barnes and Noble parking lot by a gang of twentysomething women and pantsed.
I’m glad there isn’t that kind of justice because I might have been included in the young women’s rampage on general principles.
Here we are, we aging Boomers, trying to “save” Social Security for ourselves by taking away those young women’s future benefits and forcing them to work into their old ages.
Guys like this make me wonder why they aren’t doing that to us.