As I wrote about a few months back, my recent job loss reignited my love of basketball. And recently it was basketball that taught me something about myself, and about why people in the hiring process shouldn’t write me off.
I started playing basketball with a group of guys who are mostly near my age, or within a ten year window. There were a few younger guys who played with us on a regular basis, but they were few and far between.
And then when the colleges starting letting out, a group of college guys started working their way into our gym time. Some guys my age immediately stopped showing up. They didn’t like playing with younger guys, and just said to hell with it, “see you in the fall.”
As the spring ran into its late stages, it was clear the younger guys really didn’t want the three of four of us older guys who would still show up around. They rolled their eyes when we bobbled their quick passes and missed layups. They stayed in their group and didn’t seem willing to integrate the teams into one or two older guys mixed in with two or three younger guys. It was clear that they would prefer if we just went away.
But as Zack Mayo said to Sgt. Foley in an “Officer and Gentlemen”, “I got no place else to go!” So I kept showing up.
Besides, in the times I did play on the same team with younger guys, I kind of like the way they played. They didn’t bitch and moan, they spread the ball around, and they clearly loved playing the game, and they respected it. Plus, they got out and ran in transition, which I love to do.
I am not going to lie to you and tell you I have immense basketball talent, because I don’t. But I was very well coached growing up and was taught a set of fundamental skills. I can box out, I play pretty good defense despite my slowness, and I’ve known how to fill the lanes on a fast break since I was 10. (In fact, I cannot NOT fill the lanes, that’s how ingrained it is in my head.)
And as our regular Tuesday/Thursday games progressed, my younger cohorts realized something, the old guy can hang. And they started involving me in the offense more. Slowly but surely, my game started coming back to me after all those years off, and I added a nice mid range jumper to my repertoire.
And these guys started joking with me and one even called me “Uncle Drew”, which if you’re familiar with the viral video series, is a compliment.
These guys, who at the beginning had written me off as a detriment to their team, now saw me as if not an equal, at least as someone they could trust with the ball, and while I won’t go so far as to say we’re all friends, if I see them around the neighborhood, we give each other a head nod or a “How’s it going?”, which in guy world is affirmation enough.
So what does this mean to my unemployment? Probably nothing. Rarely do hiring guys play hoops, and I’m not going to get a job through my connections here. It’s not golf.
But it leads me to wonder if people are writing me off because of my age, or because I lack certain skills, and don’t look the part.
BULL. That’s your perspective, not mine.
I have something called fundamentals, and those never go away, they are ingrained in my psyche. I have life skills that have been tested with experience.
My thirty years in the media business means I’ve seen a lot. I’ve dealt with a lot of deadlines, and I’ve been up against it time and time again. I don’t get rattled easily, and I don’t give up just because the young guys want the gym.
And I am steady and loyal employee. I may be seasoned, but I can adapt. Pass me the damn ball!