Marianne isn’t like most older employees. She hasn’t lost any of the energy, drive, or enthusiasm she brought to her company thirty years ago. She stands out in another way as well: she’s not the least bit threatened or annoyed by the young people at her office. At fifty-five years of age, it would be understandable if she felt that way. Older workers get pushed out by young people quite often. But Marianne enjoys working them. They don’t have any of the cynicism, bitterness, or chronic aches and pains she hears her contemporaries go on and on about.
Her favourite new recruit is a young woman by the name of Autumn. Part of Autumn’s business degree program at the local university requires her to fulfill a four month co op placement in a job related to her field. Marianne’s company was smart enough to snap Autumn up before anyone else had a chance and its CEO asked if she would mind taking Autumn under her wing.
“Of course not,” she told him. “I love mentoring young people.”
The two hit it off immediately, with Marianne seeing Autumn as the daughter she never had, and Autumn viewing Marianne as the mom she wished she had. Every conversation was either fun, deep, or gave the other one a chance to grow.
“What are you bringing to this Friday’s barbecue?” Marianne asked at the start of one of them.
“I don’t know. I’m a vegetarian, so I can’t imagine anyone going for the kind of dishes I make.”
“You’re a vegetarian? I didn’t know that! Full-on or just certain things?”
“No meat, that’s for sure,” Autumn answered.
“What about milk and things like that?”
“Almond milk, but nothing from a cow or goat.”
“I’ve never tried almond milk,” Marianne casually told her young protégé.
“Why not?” Autumn asked.
“I don’t know. I just haven’t.”
“Well, Madam. I expect a full report on my desk by the end of today on why you do not drink almond milk. Single-spaced and in 8-point font. too!” Autumn said before the two ladies broke into laughter. They were laughing again together a few hours later when Autumn’s computer let her know she had just received an email. The subject line: Why I Don’t Drink Almond Milk, was a dead giveaway that it would be a fun one. She opened it immediately.
Do you know what’s so great about being only twenty years of age? There’s still a great big world out there for you to discover! Trust me, you’re far from the “Been there, done that, got the t-shirt” stage, and that’s what makes life exciting.
Do you like art house films? You won’t know until you watch some. Do you like to eat fried cockroaches? They sound gross, but who knows? Maybe you’ll unexpectedly find yourself in Vietnam one day and get invited to some villager’s house for dinner, where fried cockroaches will be served as an appetizer and it will turn out that they are delicious; especially when sprinkled with balsamic vinegar. Maybe you’re meant to return to your hometown upon graduation, or maybe you’re meant to teach computer skills to poor children in Africa. If it’s the latter, I recommend you bring a ton of sunscreen, only because I worry that your fair skin might make you susceptible to sunburns.
Anyway, being fifty-five is awesome in its own way as well. By the time you reach this age, you will realize that you don’t have to like something just because other people do, nor will you feel the need to pretend that you do in order to seem cool, relevant, or more adventurous than you really are. You like what you like, you believe what you believe, you love whom you love.
For example, I love chocolate. LOVE….IT! I once walked half an hour down a cobblestone street in Brussels (not an easy task in girl shoes, let me tell you) just to visit a famous Chocolatier who charged over one hundred dollars a pound for his truffles. I eat chocolate like you drink coffee (not the one hundred dollars a pound chocolate, of course). Most of the desserts I make have at least an element of chocolate in them too. Chocolate is awesome!
I like other desserts, mind you. Strawberry cheesecake is good, as are ice cream, apple pie, peanut butter cookies and butter tarts. However, if I were to walk up to a dessert buffet and saw all of those things on the table as well as chocolate, I’d go for the chocolate every time.
That’s pretty much how I feel about almond milk. I don’t have anything against almond milk or the people who drink it, but I’d much rather have 2% cow’s milk. I’ve tried skim milk (the army could replace water boarding with that if it needs a new form of punishment), and I’ve tried 1% (a poor man’s 2%), but at the end of the day I always go back to the 2%. I don’t see the need to experiment any further when I already know what works for me.
So now you know why I don’t drink almond milk. Oh, and I know you asked for this in 8-point font, but fifty-five year old eyes don’t do 8-point font. You’ll learn that as well in due course.
Only Marianne could find a way to turn a life lesson into something funny, Autumn thought. Then she thought how nice it would be if she could work here after graduation. But who knows what life had in store for her. Thanks to Marianne, she now knew to stay open to just about anything.