A Young Man's Poem

A Son's Effort to Find His Father a Job

Last Friday, we held a forum that was primarily about TGB reader Joan's brother who had recently been laid off work at age 55, and the awful consequences of losing one's job if you are older than 50.

(If you missed it, Joan's brother responded to your comments and you can read that here.)

Then, over the weekend, Mage Bailey of Postcards blog forwarded the story of a young man and his father – also age 55 - who has been unemployed for way too long.

It is hard to cover all the things I want on this blog and one that has fallen through the cracks is the relationship between us old folks and younger people.

It often seems that young and old don't know one another well enough or that not much empathy passes back and forth. American popular culture doesn't leave a lot of room for elders, most especially not a lot of room for interaction between young and old.

But it's there, it happens, it's going on in real life every day and Mage passed on one of those stories.

It's a father/son tale that the father posted on his Pedestrian Wanderings page at OpenDiary.

The father titled the story, Unbeknownst to Me and prefaced the entry with, “Unbeknownst to me, N [the son] posted this ad on Craigslist:”

”Hire my dad!

“The company he worked for folded last year and he's been pounding the pavement (and Internet pavement) looking for a job ever since. He's done plenty of interviews but hasn't managed to land anything and I'm beginning to suspect it's because he's in his 50s.

“Maybe they're worried he won't understand or adapt well to new technology, which is total bullshit. For example, he has a QR code on his résumé. You know those squarish barcodes from Japan? Yeah, one of those. It links to his LinkedIn profile. I don't even have that and I'm a hip Millenial! Also, he checks his Google Analytics every night to see who's visiting his art website. If you've got tech, he can use it.

“Maybe they're thinking he's planning on coasting to retirement or will feel entitled to a higher position. Wrong! The man hasn't coasted a day in his life. You hire him and he's your guy, no matter what. Kind of like Ryan Gosling in that movie Driver, only with less head smashing. (And by less, I mean none, I swear.)

“Maybe they think he's too set in his ways to operate in a dynamic environment. Wrong again! He's done lots of different jobs: newspaper photographer, worked in a printshop, as a delivery driver, admin assistant for fundraisers.

“The man is the face of being adaptable in dynamic circumstances. He even shot a rattlesnake in our garage once, though I suppose that wasn't really a job.

“He's also funny, personable and has no tattoos, piercings or felony convictions.

“So if you might want to hire my dad, e-mail me.”

Just wonderful, don't you think? If I had any jobs to hand out, I'd sure email the son.

I suspect other acts of kindness – between relatives such as this one and among friends and even strangers of disparate age – go on every day that we will never know. It's good to read one now and then.

The father mentions at the end of the post that his son had already forwarded a response to the Craigslist ad. Maybe by now there are more.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Joanne Zimmermann: Abby Tabby


If only we knew more about these sorts of things! I think that we do tend to wrap ourselves up in the goings-on of the people with whom we can spend the most time - others who, like us, are old. Those who are in the so-called "prime of life" have their plates full - just as we did (well, we still do - just with different "stuff") at younger ages.

This posting is a good example of how we can advance the cause of inter-generational harmony. Thank you, Ronni!

What a dear son he is too. Dad writes today about his interactions with his own mother. I appreciated that too.

In the mid-80s I volunteered to get involved with an class-action age discrimination suit with a large international company (name started and ended with an 'X'). This company prided itself on their mantra, "Our greatest resource is our people".

The suit was between 3,500 older employees, all of whom faced layoffs, and the company. The suit was 'so wrong' that even 60 Minutes devoted a segment to exposing their wrong doings.

As I sat in the meetings, internal corporate documents were passed around, overheads of graphs displayed, and brief speeches by consultants emphasizing the hazards incurred by hiring and/or maintaining a senior force. Things like: hearing, vision, memory impairment, laziness, lack of clear thoughts, loss of direction in meetings, and the eventual skyrocketing costs in healthcare were discussed and surprisingly agreed upon - by our own SENIOR MANAGERS! (Astounding)

The problem I saw and expressed was the danger in letting go of our 'greatest resource' and the years of knowledge and skills. "Corporate and technological bankruptcy", I said. (I sat there thinking over my twenty years of sacrifices made during which I had signed a non-disclosure agreement and another document that if I quit voluntarily all corporate knowledge and product technology would remain as a part of the company - and I would be sued if within 18 months I went to a competitor!)

These shameful shenanigans they pulled off with success. 60 minutes went on to say the company appealed and won - each of the 3,500 employees would have to hire their own attorney and renew the fight. So, "how do you do that without an income, I asked? And even if you were somehow able to win - how long would you wait to get your job back?"

In the Dark Ages they led you out to rock and left you there. Today you get a pick slip, a cardboard box with all the trophies you've won over the years, and very sad "goodbye old friend".

That story is heart-warming. Not as dramatic, but definitely warming to my heart is our two sons' actions as my husband faced recent laparoscopic surgery. I am still without reliable function in my left arm and hand from a 2011 stroke, but we thought we had our bases pretty well covered with a local relative willing to transport us from the hospital after the outpatient surgery.

We let our sons know they didn't need to leave their jobs and families to make the trip from their out-of-state homes. They plotted together, though, and our oldest son arrived at the hospital while his dad was in recovery. The next morning he departed when his brother arrived to spend the day and night with us.

We would have survived, but it would have been challenging. Our sons were more realistic than we were about what our needs would be post-surgery. We did need more help than we had anticipated. I suspect there are many more sons and daughters like our sons and the Craigs-list son. And there are caring sons- and daughters-in-law, too. Our sons came with the blessing and encouragement of their spouses.

But my heart aches for elders without a support system of any kind. And I have seen sons and daughters who leave that support system up to the elderly friends of a parent.

I was so tickled and touched by my son's ad. I feel blessed, proud and lucky to have such a thoughtful (and humorous)son.

Just saying this publicly: Thank you Nick!

This just in:
"All cardinals under age 80 are allowed to vote in the conclave,"

When they elect a Pope, the cut off for electoral eligibility is 80.
Blatant ageism or ?

Hats off to you, Nick. What an inspiring shout out for your dad...made me want to hire him on the spot!

We spent a lot of quality time with our kids. Something me and my siblings didn't have much of when we were growing up.

This quality time with our kids has paid off. They are adults now and on their own. And though they don't come by as often as their Mom would like (shocker, eh?) they are still there for us when we need them and say "I love you" before they leave when they do visit or before they hang up the phone when talking with us.

There are some goods kids out there but the bad child stereo-types are unfortunately what we hear too often about.

Bravo Tim for raising such a great son, and Bravo Nick for who you are.

Yes, wonderful!

Heck, I'd hire the father and the son. What a lovely letter and they obviously have a great relationship.

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