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The Age Difference

October 5, 2013

There are a lot of pros and cons about working with college students. On one hand, you are always going to be up on the latest slang, pop culture news and latest hit song because of the population you interact with everything. On the other hand, the years between you and those that you work with will always be growing and there will come a point where you realize you are no longer completely of the same generation as the students you interact with.

This hit completely home for me this past week more than ever before. I have an amazing staff this year in my office, and three of the staff who work with me the most all just turned 22 (as in within the last month, there has been a lot of Taylor Swift’s “22” being played in our office). They are a full decade younger than me. This is the first time in my career that I’ve had this much of an age gap between me and the staff I supervise on a daily basis. I realize that this is how it works, and that it will continue to happen, but this past month was the first time it really struck me that it was happening.

It was driven home this week when the following things happened.

Incident number one:

On Tuesday, I was chatting with one my GAs about the How I Met Your Mother episode the night before. We both adore this show and had been looking forward to the last season starting. I was commenting on how I loved all of the references to The Princess Bride…. the sword fighting, the one liners, the Mandy Patinkin comments. Her response: “Oh! I haven’t seen The Princess Bride. Is that what the lines during the sword fighting were about? None of the people I was watching it with could figure it out. And who is Mandy Patinkin?”

My response: ” You haven’t seen The Princess Bride? Inconceivable!”

Of course, she hasn’t seen the movie, so she didn’t get the joke. Which is even more tragic. I immediately went to YouTube and made her watch the trailer… which I have to admit, movie trailers in the 80’s may not have been the best. But the movie came out in 1987, I was like 6. She wasn’t even born until 1991. I’m tempted to take a Friday and make all three of these lovely ladies watch the movie so they can get the pop culture references. How can someone not know what it means when you hear: “Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.” I mean, I typed “Hello. My name is” into Google a minute ago and the rest of the sentence was the first thing to pop up before I finished typing! Inigo Montoya even has a Wikipedia page!


thanks Pinterest

thanks Pinterest

Incident number two:

The next day, in a staff meeting, we were talking about someone in the news or something another, when my boss comments, ” Yes, he looks a little like Zack Morris.” Another one of the 22 year-olds on the team replies with, ” Who is Zack Morris?”

My mouth may have completely dropped open at this comment. Who is Zack Morris? Seriously?

“You know, from Saved by the Bell, ” I said.

Blank look back at me.

This then launched the whole staff into commentary about the late eighties and early nineties and what we did, or did not, remember. I was more thrown by this one though, because I’m pretty sure that they still show re-runs of Saved by the Bell on TV. So it is not that hard to have an opinion on Zack, Slater, Kelly and the gang. Or the clothing choices from the costume people, the cell phone that Zack used, or that infamous episode with Jessie and the caffeine pills I’m so excited/I’m so scared episode. I just typed in “Jessie and I’m so sc” into Google and the YouTube clips immediately popped up. Clearly, still known in popular culture!


So, the lesson from all this… I’m getting older. Also, I think I’m going to make it a part of my job to make sure my staff are aware of the past pop culture hits they’ve missed out on. They may need it for trivia someday!

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