DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have always been told that I look young for my age, which I have chosen to accept as a compliment. I am frequently mistaken for a high school student, despite holding my doctorate.
However, since beginning work as a health care professional, many patients feel the need to bark something along the lines of, “You can’t POSSIBLY be the pharmacist! You’re much too young! How old ARE you??!”
Up to this point, I’ve been providing my age and reassurances that yes, I am the pharmacist. I give them the answers to their questions and send them on their way.
This is really starting to irritate me, as it’s directed at me multiple times a day and it’s none of their business how old I am. Is there any other polite way to get these people to stop asking?
GENTLE READER: First, please ask yourself why you considered it a compliment to be told that you look young for your age. This means that you accept the absurd -- but wildly pervasive -- notion that it is shameful to grow old. By that logic, you should also be flattered to be taken for someone too young to do your job.
Please understand that Miss Manners wants you to think no such thing. It is insulting to be sized up as you have been, even if it is to credit you with false youth.
Meanwhile, however, she will answer your question. What you can say, with a pleasant smile, is: “Perhaps you would prefer to come back tomorrow. I’ll still be the pharmacist, but I’ll be older then.”