It happened again. It was only a matter of time.
There I was, pacing the sidelines of a girls rugby game at South Surrey Athletic Park recently, watching the game unfold through the viewfinder of my camera, when the question came from someone standing to my left.
“So, do you work for the school paper?”
I did my best to shrug off the question with a laugh, resisting the urge to reply with snark, which – believe me – I have in no short supply.
“No, actually I work for a real paper. We get paid and everything.”
OK, maybe I didn’t say that last part, but I wanted to.
A few days later, I was asked – by two different people, while I was out on two different assignments – if I was new to the Peace Arch News.
So let’s just get something squared away here.
I am 32 years old. I have worked here since May 2004.
And hey, while we’re at it, my name is Nick. Not Rick, which at least sounds similar, and not Lance – that’d be my editor – and not Steve, which I get called a surprising amount considering the name does not share a single letter with my own. (To be fair, a Steve did work here once, but that was long ago).
No, it’s Nick.
Nice to meet you.
I know, I know. Complaining about such petty things reeks of, well, pettiness.
Perhaps I have just become more ornery with age (I have actually aged, believe me. I have the bald spot on the back of my head to prove it).
Or maybe the latest inquiries – innocent and friendly as they’ve been – just caused me to flash back to the numerous times my age has been cause for concern since I graduated university and entered the real world.
As I said off the top – it’s happened before.
Like the time I was asked if I was PAN’s summer intern. Or the time, while walking down the hall at a local high school – en route to interview a coach – I was told to “get back to class.”
Or – and this is my favourite – the time I was asked, while on the sideline of a football game in Northern Alberta, why I wasn’t playing in the game I was covering. “Are you injured?”
None of this really upsets me, of course.
Usually, it serves as little more than an amusing anecdote to tell my wife, who, it should be noted, sometimes gets more upset about all this than I do. On one of our first dates, we ran into a co-worker of hers, and the usual pleasantries were exchanged. The following Monday back at the office, the co-worker tracked down my wife – who was born three months after me – to ask why she was dating someone so much younger than her.
So yeah, I get it.
And I get, too, that complaining about such things don’t gain me many sympathy points. After all, if I had a buck for every person who said, “You’ll appreciate it when you’re older,” I’d have enough money to hire someone to make liquor-store runs for me, so I wouldn’t be subjected to the constant ID-checking.
Though it was at the liquor store recently when I realized this whole age thing should really be embraced.
While buying a few bottles of wine, the cashier predictably asked to see my ID.
“Holy s—!” he exclaimed, as he read the date-of-birth on the card.
“Good for you, sir.”
And besides, I’m not even the youngest person in my office anymore – far from it, in fact. So perhaps I have already reached that “old” age, where I’ve grown to appreciate my apparent youthful looks.
But still, I felt like a few things needed clearing up.
I am 32 years old. I’m not new.
And my name is not Steve.
Nick Greenizan is a reporter at the Peace Arch News. And has been for some time.