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"I noticed that every time the supervisor brought up a project for my new co-worker, I got angry inside..."
I am 58 years old and I work in a very small office of a staff of four. I am the oldest person in the office. Have been there for 5.5 years. My supervisor has been with the company for 20 years. 8 months ago a girl on our staff quit and moved away, she had been with the company 13 years. They have hired a new person to fill her position. She is very bright and competent, but has expressed boredom. She was a friend of the husband of my supervisor. She does the same job that I do. She gets to do all of the extra work or projects that the supervisor has. I do the same job and my duties also include some other duties. I noticed that every time the supervisor brought up a project for her, I got angry inside, I did not like it and I started to ask myself why.
The girl that had been there for 13 years was a favorite of the supervisors. They had worked together for 13 years and I really thought 'oh, this is how they treat the person who has been there the longest', but when the girl left, the new girl became the favorite, not me.
I don't think that I am favorite material. Now I understand that people
like to work with people they like best and that may not be me, but
I felt left out and not respected for my length of service. I went to
my supervisor and ask why the new girl got to participate in all of
the projects and I did not. She said she thought I had enough to do
with my job. I realize that they want to keep the new girl, she is a
good worker, but I still feel she is the favorite now. I told my boss
just what I have told you above about my feelings of anger and being
left out. I approched my boss later in the day to say that if I had
hurt her feelings personally, I did not mean to do so and I asked if
she was 'ok'. She said she had to think about it. She (the boss) did
not act herself the rest of the day and left the office without saying
goodbye or anything, a totally different thing for her. I felt like
a million dollars after I had talked with her, but I am not sure I did
the right thing.
Dear Ready to Learn New Tricks,
You did the right thing in my opinion. There is a danger in our society to view workers approaching '60' as 'over the hill' -- with one foot out the door ready to exit to a life of retirement. But while many older workers are not as physically fit as they once were (and that may not be true in your case), many want and need to continue working for years to come! So standing up for yourself in this case is important, and your feelings of jealousy are understandable. What's good about your letter is that you recognized your feelings and you took appropriate action to correct the situation. You didn't let it fester. You tried constructively to 'fix' the problem.
You are obviously dynamic and vigorous in your approach to work. It might be worthwhile to remind your Boss and your co-workers that you love learning new skills, and new hobbies. The phrase 'life-long' learning comes to mind. Here's a question for you... do you talk with your co-workers about your hobbies and what you're doing in your leisure time? That could be a great way to get them to rethink 'who you are' and 'what you're capable of'. You don't have to go sky-diving, or bungee-jumping to impress them that you're young-at-heart. It could be as simple as talking about the wonderful time you had hiking in the park and taking photos -- or bird watching, and the new species of birds that you've learned to recognize. Remember that what you tell people about yourself will help to modify their image of 'you' to the one that more closely resembles the 'ideal you' that you know you can be. Good luck!
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