Tell Me I Am Old School One. More. Time.

tell me i am old school one more time

Caveat: This article has generalizations that could translate to assumptions about entire groups of people That is not the intent. It is written from my personal perspective and experiences.  If you are a young person who is going to be offended by me calling you a young person and making a generalization about young people and their behaviors – stop reading or suck it up, cupcake. This is how us old schoolers roll.

I recently read an article which suggested sending a letter.  An honest-to-goodness-snail-mail letter.  One of the comments after the article was, “Man, have you heard of email? Paper mail is wasteful and dated and SLOW.”

Translation: “you are so old school”

Translation: “you are old, outdated, not cool, unhip” or whatever other phrases young people are using now.

Damn straight I am old school. And yes, I feel even older using the phrase “young people” but guess what, I am going to keep using it. Because I am old school, outdated, back in the day, uncool and unhip.

I love hearing young people bemoan ‘old school’: “that is slow, that is a waste of time, whine, cry, too much effort, sniff, eye roll, takes too long….”

I am closing in on a half century and over this time I have seen amazing transformations. I remember being all excited seeing a digital clock for the first time.  I was a weird kid, whatever.  Now I have a computer in my hand.

There are better, faster, easier, more efficient ways to communicate or do things; that is true.  Yet here is the point that old schoolers get that youngsters do not:

The communication and actions are not about the words you use or things you do, but how it makes others feel.

It takes extra time and thought to write a hand written thank you note.  It would be easier to whip off a text or email. Wham bam thank you ma’am mark that off my list.  But if someone were to thank you via text or email, how would you feel as compared to a note card in your hand in their writing?


Someone took the time, their time, to put thought and effort into thanking you.

So tell me, you young whippersnapper, that I am old-school like it is a bad thing one more time.  You want to know old school? Here are some other old school things that me and my back in the day crowd do, some being gender specific:

  •  Hold doors for people.
  • Smile and have small talk in grocery lines.
  • Keep our phones in our pockets during coffee, dinner or any other meeting.
  • Listen and engage in eye contact.
  • Not photograph every moment but enjoy them instead.
  • Ask questions, be interested in the person we are talking to.
  • Stand when a lady approaches the table.
  • Hold the chair while she is sitting down.
  • Defer ordering first.
  • Offer to help when there is nothing in it for us.
  • Sew on our own buttons.
  • Use pots and pans not microwaves.
  • Slow down.
  • Take chances, we are less concerned about looking stupid in front of our friends – they have had years to know we are crazy.
  • Laugh at ourselves.
  • Talk to our friends when we get together.
  • Encourage each other instead of compete.
  • Cherish and show respect for our elders.  That means our parents and grandparents and other people’s parents and grandparents. To you young people – elders is old people.
  • Say ‘ma’am’ and ‘sir’.
  • Say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’.
  • Make plans – not five minutes in advance.
  • Respect other people’s time.
  • Don’t look for ways to get offended, look for ways to make it happen for us.

I am not saying all young people do not do these things or all us old people do; this is me and the old folks I know.

You know the benefit to me of being old school? I am happy.  I love what I do, love who I am, love the experiences I encounter and the people I interact with on a daily basis. I know who I am, what I am, what I want, and am limitless because of these things.

So, yes, I am old-school. You say that like it is a bad thing.  I see it as a recognition that I still hold true to the values that my parents and grandparents taught me.

  • Do unto others as you would have them do unto you
  • You catch more flies with honey than vinegar
  • How you make others feel about themselves says a lot about you
  • The only time you should look down on a person is when you are helping them get up
  • Respect all people regardless of their situation, position, status or title

These are things that no technology or time-saving efficiencies can ever replace, nor the way they make others feel when we do them.


As the Founder and Principle of Career Polish, Inc., a national career coaching and practice firm, I am an Executive Brand Strategist, Resume Writer and Career Coach. I work with individual clients, companies, leadership and teams to identify, strengthen and effectively communicate their brand, engagement, commitment and most importantly – their value – by learning and leveraging LinkedIn, resumes, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.
I help people get from where they are in their jobs to where they want to be in their careers.

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