When I graduated college in 1980, I wasn’t thinking about looking for work thirty-eight years later. If I considered it at all, I assumed that I’d be well established in my chosen career, thinking about retirement. If I could go back in time even to twenty years ago, my choices would’ve been entirely different. But they weren’t and here I am.
None of my career plans came to fruition. Started and quit law school. Started and quit graduate school twice. Years of sporadic employment due to marital and health issues have left me where I never wanted to be – searching for yet another clerical job at age sixty. Everyone I interview with is younger than I am. This is to be expected and I’m okay with it. What I’m not okay with is the look on people’s faces when I arrive for the interview. To them, I’m old. Not only am I old but my hair is gray, and I probably remind them of their mother. Many of my friends are starting to retire. I’m so jealous of their choices. They travel while I sit at my desk wishing that I could join them. My husband retired this year and while I’m happy for him, I’m sad for me. Even though I’m fairly energetic, truth be told I’m tired. I’m tired of adapting to the new corporate lingo. I’m tired of being more than a step behind in technology. I especially tired of not being able to pursue my many creative endeavors because by the time I get home at the end of the day, well, I’m tired.
One of the more frightening aspects of the job search is being told that I’d have to wait sixty to ninety days for medical coverage. Do they have any idea how devastating that could be? My health is good but damn it, stuff happens and often out of the blue. Every time I hear this I wish even more fervently that I lived in a country where health care is provided for all. Couple this with the lower hourly wages and I’m going to work until I die. Without a good pension or healthy savings, I can’t see my way to retirement. This is no one’s fault but my own. I made lousy choices. If you had told me that I’d be competing with a thirty-year old for a desk job at sixty, I would have laughed in your face. Not laughing now.
I have years of good solid experience. I show up on time. I work hard. No drama follows me to the office. Perhaps I’ll only work for a company for six or seven more years, but they’ll be good, productive years. I’m not the only one. Consider hiring the older employee. But for God’s sake, pay us what we’re worth and give us health care.