(Editor's note: Roger Scime is a good friend of ours here at Great Places, having worked with us for several intriguing months as we optimized the website. We truly welcome this guest blog from him. You may contact him at rogerscime.com)
I'm the invisible man. I turned 62 in September, and in any group younger than 30, no one notices me, nobody listens to me, it's as if I'm, well . . . invisible.
I first noticed this in 2003, when I was a mere 54 years old and decided to go back to school for my Master's degree. Most of my fellow grad students were in their 20s-30s, and immediately made friends, bonded, grouped, swarmed. I tried joining in as naturally and unobtrusively as possible. Occasionally I would offer advice on one subject or another, which the youngsters would accept willingly, then turn their backs as my existence faded from their consciousnesses.
I finally managed to make a few friends, upon offering to host a field trip to a nearby city where an event was occurring. Everybody seemed to have a good time, but only two exchange students—one from China, one from India—showed any interest in continuing any kind of relationship. I asked my Indian friend about this just a few months ago, and he said, "In India, we look upon those older than us with respect, something Americans don't seem to be capable of."
I'm currently taking MBA classes (we seniors seem to be addicted to learning. Go figure), and the professor had us self-select into groups of 3-4 for the final project of the class. I went from group to group, offering my services (a highly desirable one, for which none of the others were prepared), practically begging to join one or another, but I was—for all intents and purposes—ignored.
Finally, an exchange student from Bangladesh, asked me to join his group. Mind you, I didn't have to ask, beg, or abase myself. He just asked. Do you sense a pattern here?
Well, we're working on his project (a business plan for a multimillion- dollar hospital in Bangladesh), and I'm making my contribution as wordsmith, editor, and social-media facilitator. Additionally, he's invited me to a cocktail party tonight, where Angels and other investors will be present. He told me he wants somebody mature there representing his venture and I was the best person he knew to be the face of his company.
It's a shame I'm invisible to my own countrymen, but not to others.