It Was Ageism Is What it Was!

I applied for a job as a “Field Organizer” for a political campaign and I had an interview on the telephone. I knew that these jobs were usually filled by young people, mostly by recent college graduates. As we’d had several very incompetent ones in past campaigns, I decided I wanted to be “paid” instead of doing all of their work for them while I was being a volunteer! After all, I had experience and knowledge! I thought that perhaps those might be desirable traits they were looking for in a candidate!

My “interview” was conducted on the telephone and the interviewer was obviously a young woman. Of course, in the “chatting” part I asked about her background; from her summary I gleaned that she could not have been more than 25 years old. Her first question of the interview was “How do you think you could handle working twelve hours a day?” I answered, “That would be like PART-TIME work to me.” She obviously wasn’t listening, or comprehending, because her next statement was, “Our people are expected to work long hours.” I answered, “As I said, 12 hours would be like part-time work because I was SO used to working LONG hours.” Oblivious, she continued, “We often have to work very long hours, miss meals, and family.” I wondered to myself, “What part of the English language does she not understand?” but I proceeded to tell her that for instance, one year I did not have ONE day off from January 2 until July; that I worked every Saturday, every Sunday and every holiday and also during that time my counterpart on another shift was off for an operation and I had to work six weeks straight, 17 hours per day to cover his and my shifts!

I also told her that I had worked with a number of “field organizers” and I had observed HOW they worked. If she had pursued that lead, she would have learned the “HOW” was not a compliment.

I knew that I had answered her remaining questions with appropriate replies and then I realized that this was JUST a perfunctory interview, because in my cover letter I had written that a prominent person had suggested I apply and she asked how I knew the person. I soon understood that I didn’t stand a chance in Hell of getting the job because of my age! She was smart enough NOT to say anything illegal, but it was obvious to me that she thought an older person couldn’t “handle” the job!

The campaigns are short-lived and the young folks go on to other jobs, careers, or further education and they probably believe that they have done “well”. One actually had the nerve to ask for a letter of recommendation; I declined. He asked why and I told him that I had observed his lack of ability! He was nearly in tears when he told me that he thought he had done a “great” job and wanted to know specifics, which I supplied. Of the 13 with whom I worked in past campaigns, there was just ONE who actually performed the job and who had the ability, people skills, acumen, knowledge, and stamina to do the job!

I think I’ll apply again this year just to make them UNCOMFORTABLE!

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