That’s the burning question that I have been asking myself. In this day and age, we are all so proactive about matters concerning feminism, sexism, misogyny, racism and the list could go on and on about this equality and fair treatment topic. As much as I’d like to think of myself as a fair person and try to lead my life with a motto that: “Treat others as you’d like to be treated”, I must admit that I was put in a very precarious situation about ageism.
I have recently been to the hospital for an emergency care. After a few agonising minutes wait, more so for the anxiousness of my diagnosis, I was finally able to see a physician. At first I thought this little girl, who in my eyes, couldn’t have been more than sixteen, was merely going to prepare me to see a real doctor! Yes, there, I admitted it! The proper one with grey hair, a curved back that has obeyed the rules of gravity and sunken eyes hidden behind thick glasses, all demonstrating the degree of maturity, experience and knowledge that s/he holds. But no, this was not the case. The little girl continued to ask me questions, the kind of consultation questions that a real doctor would ask. And then, she asked to examine me, an invasive examination I might add! I almost wanted to ask – and yes you guessed it, “But are you a doctor?” and even, “How old are you, actually?” But instead, I surrendered my feelings, bit the bullet and agreed to an examination.
I must say that things did go as expected as far as the medical examination and treatment is concerned. But who was that evil judge who came over me? I should know better about the discrimination matters, since I have first hand experience, having come from a clinical background myself. I once went out of the lab (in hindsight, a sweet hiding comfort zone – away from patients) to carry out some routine patient investigation. Lo and behold, the patient unapologetically asked me to “see someone else”. No it is not possible, I replied. “We are very short staffed and I am the only person available today, unless you want to cancel…”, I said apologetically, of course. I did question myself then if it was due to my age (ok, perhaps I looked too young to her) or my race? In any case, for me it was another lesson, another experience. I’m very open in this respect, I really believe that people should have the liberty of opinion, expression or preferences, should circumstances allow.
But what made me question the ageism debate in my head even further was the fact that my very own husband, the most open-minded and tolerant person I know, did pose me some questions after our hospital ordeal. “Hon, are we getting old or did she look really young to you? And, “Was she actually a doctor?” Voilà, I said to myself then, at least it was not just me!
So what’s your take on this? Have you had a similar experience where you questioned somebody’s credentials due to their tender age? I appreciate that the age complex is hugely imposed by the type of profession. Even more so when we are obliged to trust them with our lives.
As for me, I promised myself to have more faith in those certified and therefore trusted to do their jobs. I really can’t wait to hear your stories though. I dare you to share below. Cheers.