The day I became the ‘older lady’

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Earlier this year a headhunter called me about an exciting job. It was a media spokesperson role and involved occasional television appearances.

Initially I was excited about the prospect. Before the kids came along I dabbled in television and video production. It was always a bit of fun. So I went for it.

As always is the case with jobs like these, the interview process was pretty full on. I had a number of meetings with key players and I also had to record some dummy interviews and pieces to camera.

The whole process took nearly a month and finally one Friday morning the headhunter called to tell me it had come down to just me and another person.

Despite my subtle poking and prodding he kept his lips zipped about my competitor. I was curious. Was it a man or a woman? What did they have that I didn’t have? The headhunter told me I’d have to wait until Monday to find out because the company needed the weekend to make their final decision.

Monday morning arrived. I pulled my phone out of my handbag after the school run and saw I had missed a call from the headhunter. I dialled into my voicemail and nervously held my breath.

All I could hear was the swooshing sound of material rubbing against the phone. I relaxed slightly as I realised the headhunter had accidentally pocket-dialled me.

But then I heard the muffled voice.

“Yeah, they’ve finally decided. I’m going to call Lisa Lintern first. You know…she was the older lady….”

There was the sound of fumbling and the message ended abruptly.

I played the message again.

“Yeah, they’ve finally decided. I’m going to call Lisa Lintern first. You know…she was the older lady….”

And again…

‘…the older lady…”

…and again…

‘…the older lady…”

…and again, this time turning up the volume to be absolutely sure.


Until now only six-year-olds had called me ‘lady’. But ‘older lady’? I sat back and whispered the f-word as a tidal wave of despair hit me.

I’m old….

But not only am I old…I’m an OLDER LADY!

This means the other person going for the job must be YOUNG.

Which means they are getting the job.

Not me.

Because I am…AN OLDER LADY!

I picked up the phone and dialled Busy-And-Important-Husband and hyperventilated down the phone to him about being old and never being able to work again.

“But are you sure you didn’t get the job?” he asked.

“Well, no. But clearly I won’t now seeing I’m the OLDER LADY…” I spat down the phone.

“Well, maybe you should ring and find out first,” he said.

I grumpily dialled the headhunter.

“Oh, hello Lisa. I was just trying to call you. I have some great news for you…”

Yes, I was offered the job. Despite being the ‘older lady’, I was the one chosen for the role.  But ironically I eventually turned down the offer for other reasons I won’t go into here. But I’m happy to say it had nothing to do with being the older lady.

But it got me thinking. I’m 43 years old – honestly, I always thought that was quite young! But after this muddled encounter, as I look into the mirror and gently rub the lines around my eyes, I can’t help but feel a shadow of self-doubt creep over my professional life.


  1. says

    Oh dear. I was referred to as ‘mature’ the other day in the office, which is pretty much the same thing. I’m 41 but am still very, very far away from thinking of myself as old. But then I look around and I am working with all these 20-somethings…

  2. says

    Welcome to my world. I hate it when shop assistants call me ma’am. What happened to Miss? I’m a decade older than you Lisa and will be looking for a new job next year. I’m dreading it. I’ll be the ‘oldest’ lady 🙂

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