In the Mind of a Seasoned Professional: Since When Did I Become Yoda?

Megan works with me at my new job. She’s been with the company maybe two years and at her young age she really knows the ropes. I was told to ask her any questions I have about the company and she will help me get acclimated. She is always very accommodating and you just can’t help but like her. The other day we were attending a meeting together and making small talk. She mentioned it was her Mom’s birthday this past weekend and I told her my daughter turned 27 on the same day. Megan said her birthday was last month and she also turned 27.

We looked at each other and smiled not saying anything for a moment…me thinking, “Megan could be my daughter.” And I could read her eyes as she thought, “Patti could be my Mom.” So when did this happen? When did I become the one who could be a colleague’s parent? Wasn’t it just yesterday that my boss called me “kid” and Marlo Barnhart was my mentor, and my pals at the TV station couldn’t wait till Thursday after work because happy hour beer was two for one at the Broad Axe? When did I stop being Luke Skywalker and start being Obi-wan Kanobe or worse yet, Yoda? I used to look around the meeting room table and I was the youngest, fastest, shining star and now I could have changed the diapers of half of those around the table!

I must be stuck in one of the three “Back to the Future” episodes because it truly, seriously, honestly feels like yesterday and it feels a bit odd. But as I think about it, long and hard, it’s really kind of cool on this side of the employment continuum. I mean, I can teach these kids. I can mentor them and they can look up to me like I idolized Bob Borngesser the TV anchor at WHAG-TV, where I had my first real job. “Hey kid,” he’d say to me as he walked by my lowly copywriter desk on his way upstairs to do the 6 p.m. news. I was in awe of his experience, wisdom and calm disposition (later I learned a stiff drink or two before airtime may have had something to do with it). But, Bob had such a successful career and he always took the time to talk to me. Just like my mentor Marlo Barnhart, a seasoned reporter who spent a lifetime doing news and yet, took the time to coach me, to light a fire in me that no one else could.

So maybe…just maybe…one of these kids in my office may want to be like me someday. Maybe there’s a kid out there I can inspire and they will remember my name when they are pushing 60 and attribute a little of their own success to me. And that, my dear friends, is priceless. So Happy Birthday Megan, here’s to working with you, Kid!

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