I think one of the best things about the workplace is that the age of your coworkers is kind of an afterthought. When I worked in food service, my work besties were always kind, caring, and protective women over 40 years old, and it wasn't weird at all. Conversely, I've also worked with people who were younger than me, and I would forget all about the age differences...until someone didn't know what High School Musical was or who The Beatles are, and I had to stop myself from fainting.
So, when redditor u/redmambo_no6 asked the people of r/AskReddit who work with younger people to share the moments they officially felt old, I could do nothing but relate. Here are some of the funniest, mildly shocking, and somewhat disorienting stories from people who were reminded of their age in the workplace:
1. "I had an intern refer to the '90s as 'the late 1900s.' WTF? It's true, but it makes my teenage years sound like The Oregon Trail or something."
2. "We were talking about where we were on 9/11, and one of my coworkers went quiet. He hadn't even been born yet."
3. "I had some coworkers complaining about how hard and awkward it is to meet women on dating apps. I asked if they've ever had to call a girl at home and had her dad answer the phone. They were horrified. Another time, one of my guys asked what a payphone is. Mind you, we work at a phone company."
4. "When I had to teach my 25-year-old coworker how to use 'Ctrl + C' and 'Ctrl + V' on the keyboard. They went from having no computer to touch screens, so I guess they never had a class on how to use computers and only knew how to copy and paste using a mouse. Hotkeys blew their mind."
5. "A younger female coworker said she was going to come by 'with some incredible tea.' I ended up profoundly confused and disappointed when she showed up to my office without a calming elixir of the gods and instead proceeded to talk shit about our coworker."
6. "I once overheard a younger coworker talking about how he couldn't stand when people who are in their 30s try to keep up with fashion and style. He said something like, 'You're old — just get some jeans, a polo, and some New Balances.' I was 34 at the time, so that was frightening to hear."
7. "When I fell down the last couple of steps on a stairway. No one pointed and laughed like I expected. Instead, my coworkers helped me up and asked me if I was okay. That's when I knew."
9. "One of the young airmen I work with saw my 2004 Pontiac GTO and said, 'I love those old cars!' I thought about that for a while. 2004 is old?! I hate everything."
10. "I was talking to a coworker about movies and what our favorites were. I said something like, 'I watched that movie so much when I had it on tape during my college years.' She said, 'Tape?' I said, 'You know, on VCR?' She had this confused look on her face as she asked, 'VCR?' I shrugged it off because young people not knowing about VCRs is fair. So I said, 'Oh, well I guess VCR is old. Everything is on DVD now.' She said, 'DVD?' I replied, 'I guess those are old, too. I guess Blu-ray is what's on disc now.' I kid you not, that confused expression never left her face. Then she said, 'Disc?' I ended up just saying, 'Never mind.'"
11. "My much younger sister works in a hotel, and she said that she once served someone famous. She said casually, 'They were in some band called Queen.'"
12. "A girl only seven years my junior asked me if I ever did drugs when I was young. Not younger, but young. I was 28."
13. "A friend and I were working at a summer camp, and we had to bring our Gameboys to work one day to demonstrate to the younger kids that, yes, we had multiplayer back in the day, and yes, that was the only way to do it."
14. "Our payroll company went under (not with our money, luckily), so for that month we got real-life, honest-to-goodness paper checks. Several of my younger coworkers didn't really know what they were or how they could turn them into money."
15. "I offered some one-dollar DVDs to some college kids I worked with, but they said they had nothing to watch them on. I was like, 'You can watch them on your laptop.' They said, 'Uh...no, we can't.' That made me feel old. Apparently, laptops don't have disk drives anymore?!"
16. "I work part-time at a brewery as a 'beertender' for extra income and free beer. I'm 45, and most of my coworkers are in their early 20s. I like all of them, but boy, did I realize quickly that I was out of touch with today's slang! We were trying a new beer, and my coworker was like, 'Damn, this really slaps.' That was followed by someone else who said, 'No cap.' I stood there so confused about what these guys said. Since then, though, my coworkers have taught me all about the new lingo."
"A coworker and I were talking, and they said, 'Say less.' I replied, 'Oh...okay.' And I walked away, so confused. I definitely had to google what that meant."
17. "A lovely coworker of mine invited me to a party at her house. The party started at 9 p.m. I was so confused; that's bedtime!"
19. "I worked at a restaurant, and we had a new hire. She was 18, and we were talking about TV shows. I'm not sure why I did, but I ended up mentioning TV Guide. She had zero clue what I was talking about. I told her we used to have to search through this book in order to know what time a show was playing, and that we had to watch it on time or else we'd have to wait for the next showing. She looked at me like I was crazy; the thought of not being able to have instant access, or at least be able to record the show, was alien to her. We had a laugh about it, but that is when I realized I was way too damn old."
20. "My younger coworkers collectively thought that landline phones were attached to walls to keep them from being stolen."
21. "My coworkers were planning a party outside of work, so I asked, 'That sounds cool, can I come?' They answered, 'Sure! We didn't think to invite you because we thought you weren't into this kind of stuff anymore.'"
22. "I had to explain what rickrolling is."
23. "A younger coworker asked me if I had a 'gram,' and I told him that I didn't do drugs. He just wanted to know if I had an Instagram account."
24. "My buddy and I were talking about the movie I Know What You Did Last Summer, and one of the servers was like, 'Why are you guys talking about a Shawn Mendes song?'"
25. "I explained to my team that before the internet and before our online database, we had to use paper files to look up information. They looked at me with a mixture of awe and pity."
26. "My coworker found some old CDs in my closet and asked me what they were. I said, 'Blank CDs.' They asked, 'What do you mean by blank?' I replied, 'They don't have anything on them, but they're like a regular disc. You can put whatever you want on them.' They looked really intrigued and asked how. I said, without even thinking about the age difference, 'You burn them.' They replied, 'Burn them? Like with a lighter?' Ugh."
27. "We had an intern, and we were talking about social media. I brought up MySpace, and she had no idea what I was talking about. She'd never even heard of it."
28. "I went to a meeting with my team. It was meant to be a quick meeting; there weren't enough chairs for everyone, but it didn't really matter since we weren't going to be staying for long. But everyone offered me a chair. When I declined, everyone stood up. I realized then that I was the oldest on the team by over 10 years. I was the 'older person who got access to the chair.' I sat down, thanked them, and then realized I had hit a new season in my life."
29. And finally: "I left a note for a new hire to call IT to help set up his work phone. He asked me what language I wrote the note in. Turns out, he just couldn't read cursive."
OK, after reading through these responses, I think that's enough self-awareness for the day. Have you experienced any moments in the workplace — or anywhere, really — where you really perceived your own age? Let me know in the comments, and we can all feel old together.
PS: If you really want to feel old, check out this super amazing article!