At work today it was a colleague’s birthday, she was safely off teaching somewhere so we seized the moment to write in her card and wrap her gifts. She is fiercely protective of the detail of her age, nobody has a clue how old she is and she isn’t telling and it’s something of a joke for us to try to guess. One of the younger teachers decided it would be fun for us all to write in the card “Happy ??th birthday” knowing she would take it in the good faith it was intended.
I was about to join in and put as the others had, what I really believed her age to be but at the last minute I declined to do this and wrote 21st. I think she’s around my age but I thought that about someone once before:
We had a temp working for us as a receptionist. I hired her via an agency. She was a pleasant lady, efficient, friendly, happy.
It was my fortieth birthday, I handed out invitations to my colleagues and included her, she’d been with us for a while.
The receptionist, as I was passing through on my way to my office called out to me the morning after the invitation distribution “Is it really your 40th? I was so shocked when I saw the invitation, I thought you were around my age.” she smiled.
“Oh thank you” I smiled (I really should have left it there but without thinking) I added “I thought you were around my age too, how old are you?”
“Oh, I’m 27” she replied down heartedly.
“Shit” I thought realising how I’d just totally destroyed the poor girl’s world and knew there was no way back and not even giving myself the chance to appreciate the huge confidence boost she had just given me.
If there is a hole for me to stick a foot in, I will find it.