I vaguely remember turning 21, and it was no big deal. Same with 30, 40 (when you officially become middle-aged) and 50. Even 60 passed without setting off any major conniptions. I also remember the day a friend turned 60 and she said she finally felt liberated to be “a little old lady.”
Oh, but 70: I recently hit that magic number, and it’s been sort of daunting and sort of haunting. That is, when you hit threescore and ten — after all, that’s our biblical sell-by date — you are officially old. I mean, “Get off my lawn!” old.
Anyway, fearing the worst, I decided to get a check-up — since I’m still working, if only part-time, at the same place for going on 35 years, in a field where the fresh-faced newcomers who once were only young enough to be my children are now young enough to be my grandchildren. So I went online and gave myself the Maslach Burnout Inventory test.
There are 15 statements (such as 2: “I have negative thoughts about my job” and 4: “I am easily irritated by small problems, or by my co-workers and team”) and you have to rate them from “Not at All” (1 point) to “Very Often” (5 points).
This allows for a range of 15 to 75 points, out of which I scored a 30, which corresponds to “Rarely,” which strikes me as pretty damn good for such an old coot.
The official interpretation of “Rarely” is “Little sign of burnout here, unless some factors are particularly severe.” And that’s certainly preferable to “Very Often,” which means “You are at very severe risk of burnout — do something about this urgently.” In layman’s terms, that must be when you put your head in the oven or jump out the window.
Anyway, so far, so good.
There are, however, certain other indications of advancing dotage, several of which have been visited upon Yrs Trly over the past year:
•The D’s are now the biggest category in my cellphone: 14 doctors in there now, and counting.
•Annoying interruptions arrive more and more often in the form of back pain, and from the bum hip, the trick knee and the ankles that just can’t be trusted anymore. Maybe I should get some jumper cables to kick the old carcass into gear.
•This year, for the first time, I hired somebody to clean out the gutters, because I just didn’t want to get up on the Big Ladder again, not even if I stayed below the sticker that says “Don’t step here!”
•Then there’s the finger I broke on July 4, 1776, while playing something resembling soccer with some friends. I volunteered to be the goalie because I couldn’t see wearing myself out with all that frantic running back and forth when I could just relax and wait for the action to approach the goal, at which point I figured I could put my drink down and do something about it. Well, it did, and I did, and now that finger — which had given me very little trouble for four decades — aches again, pretty much all the time.
But, of course, it could always be worse.
Now, get off my lawn!
Reach Glenn Richter at email@example.com.