Hippie chick.

An unsettling conversation happened at work last week.

Let me tell you it.

First, let me set the stage. My co-workers are all under 35, many well under 35. I could easily be their mother, even their grandmother. Sometimes the generation gap is… awkward.

::the three other cubicle dwellers around me are talking about something or other, ribbing each other and laughing and generally acting the way everyone does when it is finally Friday afternoon. One says something about someone else having been born in the 1950s::

Me: The Fifties were a good time to be born. ::thinking to myself, I will NOT tell them I was actually born before the Fifties::

Them: Oh, you were born then. (pause)

Them: Were you a *hippie*?

Me: Yes.

Them: (laughter)

Me:  ?

Them: Did you talk like this, (drawls very slowly as though stoned) "Heeyy, man…"

Me: Yes.

Them: (laughter)

Them: Did you have a VW van?

Me: I had a VW bug, my boyfriend had a VW bug AND a VW van. Now we have multiiple VW vans.

Them: (laughter)

Them: Did you listen to (dramatic pause) the Mamas and Papas?

Me: Yes, and I heard The Dead in concert.

Them: (laughter)

Them: Did you have long hair then, too?

Me: Of course.

Co-Worker 1 (who is from Sri Lanka, so imagine this being said in a south Asian accent): Did you wear "bell bottoms"? (I could hear the quotation marks in her voice.)

Me: Yes, I even made them myself — cut a slit in the sides of the legs of my jeans and sewed in a triangular piece of fabric to make regular jeans into bell bottoms.

Them: (gasps)

Them:  Were you at Woodstock?  36355310

Me:  No, I am one of the few honest people who wasn't there and don't claim to have been.

Me: But I did my fair share of drugs back in those days,too.

Them: (awkward laughter) 

Co-worker 2: I can see you as a hippie. You wear hippie socks.

Me:  ??

Co-Worker 2:  You know, hippie socks?

Me: ???

Co-Worker 2: (comes over to my cube) I bet you are wearing them today. (points to my hand-knit socks) See?!

Me: (to myself) WTF? 


The whole conversation stuck with me. My life, which of course to me is just my life, was so foreign to them. It was as if I were talking to a Civil War veteran and asking about the the horses and the cannons and the uniforms. I may never be able to relate to my co-workers again.

And I will certainly never tell them about how Smokey and I lived for five years in (what they would call) a commune

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0 Responses to Hippie chick.

  1. Heather says:

    No, don’t – their heads would, like, asplode and stuff. Omg. Y’know?

  2. Beentsy says:

    They would have to google commune. Just sayin’.

  3. bullwinkle says:

    I have some STR dyed in LSD colors. Just sayin’

  4. claire says:

    I get depressed almost every day at work. Even some of my fellow crew-members who are in their 40s seem to have no frame of reference for anything other than the 80s…very hazy even on the big stuff, like, oh say, the Vietnam War. The other day some of us were chatting about films, and I was horrified to hear them say they had never seen a black-and-white film. wtf. What planet did I end up on THIS time? 😦

  5. Erika says:

    Aw, I get the same kind of thing when I tell people I grew up in Alaska. People get really excited when they can quiz someone about something (like Alaska, or being an adult in the 60s) that they’ve only read or seen movies about!

  6. Chris says:

    Y’know, I’m feeling pretty happy that my coworkers are mostly within a few years either side of my age… Although vaguely alarmed because I just realized I have spent literally 1/3 of my life working there. Ack!

  7. Carole says:

    It’s a funny story but they sound sort of rude. I hope my kids don’t ever treat a coworker like that. Then again, their dad is a former hippie so they probably wouldn’t!

  8. Kym says:

    It is a funny story, but I agree with Carole: They sound a tad rude! As for me. . . well, I think you are one Very Cool hippie chick! (And I totally made my own “bell bottoms” too.)

  9. gayle says:

    I’ve had the same sort of conversations at work, since most of my coworkers are waaaay younger than I am.
    Sometimes I bring it on myself by making a cultural reference that goes completely over their heads. Those blank looks can be pretty unnerving. *sigh*

  10. Vicki says:

    I have absolutely zero worries that my kids are anything like this for reasons such as helping a then-still-in-high-school Katie sew triangles into the legs of HER jeans! ; )

  11. cursingmama says:

    I have hippie socks…. but I’m probably older than your coworkers too.

  12. Cookie says:

    I’m hoping that they didn’t mean to sound rude, but that it was a matter of people not being native English speakers. Having said that, I’m wondering if you work for my mortgage company. o.O
    Hippie socks?!

  13. tinebeest says:

    I was born at the tail end of the seventies, and I have to explain to my students that I started at university in the days before there was internetz and e-mail and all that free stuff, and you had to go to libraries and actually use books to find out things (such as converting dates from Chinese to western calendars). Their minds boggle. In all fairness, my mind boggles at the amount of useful stuff they find on internet, and I bow to their superior google-fu.
    Take in your stride, Kat. They’ll never know how fun it was to be a real hippie. And if anyone asks me: I wear hippie socks, too!

  14. Carrie#K says:

    Hand knit socks are hippie socks? WTH? Of course, I was out here in San Francisco and we didn’t wear shoes half the time, much less socks.
    I was too young for some of it but like I said, SF and the 60’s went slowly there.
    I’ve heard that “I’ve never seen a black & white movie” comment myself. WTH? Someone didn’t even know who Joan Crawford was and Faye Dunaway’s portrayal of her didn’t’ ring a bell either.

  15. Sheepish Annie says:

    Hippy socks???? Really? I don’t quite know what to do with that. Hippies are cool. So that makes the socks cool, too. Even if it didn’t, you were wearing them and you are wicked cool so that is the end of that!

  16. Cathy-Cate says:

    I read this to my husband and we both laughed. But I am sorry for you too. They were probably looking at you a little as though you were a visitor from another planet.
    If it helps, my daughters think the 60s rock, being young activists (the young generation here is a bit more politically involved than those ten years older, it seems to me, only accentuated by recent state events), and the RockStar is working her way through learning pretty much all Bob Dylan’s early stuff on the guitar. (She does a mean ‘And the Times, They Are a’Changin’.)

  17. Chantelle says:

    As a ‘well-under-35’er, I have to shake my head and laugh. Of course, I can’t claim to know all that previous generations have experienced, nor to I claim to… half of my coworkers references go over my head (I’m at the young end) but I also don’t think that hand-knit socks are ‘hippie socks’ – I love to hear stories about the differences between each generations’ lifestyles! (Except the uphill both ways in 6 feet of snow with nothing on my feet but socks story… that one gets old fast).

  18. soxanne says:

    hahahaha!
    I don’t talk much at work 😉

  19. marianne says:

    Oh my. Most of the young people I’ve ever worked with were Deadheads, and Phishheads, rockin’ kids.. I know I’ve been lucky. Did that with my jeans, and my dad liked them so much he asked me to trick his jeans out too. :^)
    The first time I heard a young person say.. “damned dirty hippies” was my niece! I just howled with laughter, she was raised by hippies! She got it in her head that she’d been deprived of a ‘normal’ childhood.. sigh. Her mum ran a food co-op in Oregon. She did have the humility to be a little shame faced when we told her she’d be staying with us, old hippies, and that even so, we love her very much.
    My kids.. well, they just enjoyed the journey :^)

  20. Matthew says:

    Hey mom, check out these hippies: http://i.imgur.com/TWQvh.jpg

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