The 183-Year-Old

Richard PratherPart One
There was a lady who lived down the street and I used to see her at the dog park now and then as I ran by. One day her dog got loose just as I ran around the corner. I called out to her dog, “Lika!” She ran right to me as if we had been best friends for years. Relieved, I picked her up with a smile and walked her back to the dog park. Ms. Jaya was already making her way to me slowly, thanking me continuously. “I was happy to be in the right area at the right time,” I explained. It was clear that she was upset, so I invited her to sit with me on a nearby bench.

As Ms. Jaya was relaxing and holding her beloved Lika she asked, “are you the one who rides your bicycle to work while wearing a suit?” I laughed…, “yes, I live only a mile from my Workforce Solutions office.” She was quick to say, “I wish someone would hire my 61-year-old self…I feel like I’m just too old to be hired.” I laughed, but with some concern, I asked: “What do you see yourself doing today?” She paused, “I am good at managing 55+ people in a large department store, I was VP for 6 carwash facilities, and I ran a newspaper mill company for 26 years. I would lift 33 boxes in an hour.” I said “Ok great, I know of a warehouse job close by that needs folks to lift boxes all day.” Ms. Jaya laughed so hard that she started to cough. “I can’t do that anymore, silly,” she stated once she found her voice.

Well, Ms. Jaya. My question wasn’t what did you do, but what position(s) do you see yourself in today? She gave me a frustrated look. “Well, I’ve never been asked quite that way before,” she stated with a pondered look. Then suddenly…”well I’m a great storyteller and I love to read to fourth-graders.” “That’s awesome,” I yelled out! Then suddenly, a sad look struck her face, “but I don’t know the first place to look.” “Let me help you,” I said. “I’m well connected to school districts in this area.” She settled her mind on the idea and gave me her number happily. I made the arrangements.

A week later, I received a call from a gentleman who had reached out to Ms. Jaya. He informed me that she didn’t get hired. “Why not, she was perfect for that role?” I asked loudly. Knowing I wouldn’t be happy, he reluctantly told me “Well… she didn’t interview well. She kept bringing up how tired she can get from standing, and the numerous doctor appointments she attends. She literally told us that today’s technology makes her feel 183 years old.” I rolled my eyes and leaned back in my office chair as he spoke. I smiled to myself and said, “No worries…thank you for reaching out; I will speak with her soon.” I found Ms. Jaya two days later in the dog park. I marched right to her; I couldn’t wait to speak with her. As always, her smile wasn’t lost on me. As the distance between us shortened, I put last thoughts together in my head. I had to let her know how she could improve her interview skills. Ms. Jaya was good at sensing the worry on my face, so to avoid detection, I made sure to have a stronger smile as we finally hugged in the middle of the dog park.

  1. Do you sympathize with Ms. Jaya when it comes to today’s technology, (feeling 183 years old)?
  2. Should Ms. Jaya seriously consider the question: ‘What position/s do you see yourself doing today?’
  3. Do you think she was correct in bringing up some of her personal barriers in the interview?
  4. How do you think Ms. Jaya will receive the feedback from her interview?

Be on the lookout for part two of, ‘The 183-Year-Old’ coming soon.

Richard Prather is a member of the Regional Facilitator team (Texas Gulf Coast Region) for Workforce Solutions. Richard combines over seven years of hands-on experience in employment education at Workforce Solutions with a Master’s degree in youth development. He also draws from diverse personal experiences. He’s traveled extensively abroad to partake in the culture and examine the economies of various countries across the world such as Mexico, England, Cameroon, and Argentina to name a few. Despite his wealth of experience and education, Richard’s greatest attribute is the attentive and dedicated nature with which he approaches the individual needs of his customers.



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