Crabby intended to thrill you with another take on the Social Security privatization scam, but circumstances forced a shift in priorities this morning to the more personal. A short while ago Crabby Old Lady posted a rant on age discrimination in the workplace. A reader named Anne left this story in response:
“At 42, I am ‘lucky’ in that I can easily pass for 10 to 15 years younger, BUT I have many times been confronted with ageism in sheer reaction to the number of years I have been alive.
“At one particular interview, the mood was light and airy. We were all joking with each other and I had a real feeling of being ‘one of the gang’. The woman interviewing me was 31. I was feeling so comfortable that when the conversation turned to favorite childhood TV shows, I had no qualms about ‘outing’ myself about the decade I grew up in.
“In a spilt-second the mood of the room changed. Clearly the interview was over now that they had figured out that I was (shock, gasp) in my forties.
“But how do you prove something like this? And who do you prove it to? Everything they had loved about me was still there - it's just that it had been there for 10 years longer than they thought...”
As Crabby read and re-read Anne’s story, she was struck with fear and helplessness in the deepest part of her being. It’s not that she hasn’t heard and read such stories before (and she’s got a few herself), but that they are seldom about anyone as young as Anne. If this happened to her at 42, Crabby thought, what chance does she possibly have to find work at 64? And why, she wondered, has she been beating her head against this dead-end wall for nearly a year without a single serious job opportunity?
It is a significant fact of life that you never know from whence influence will appear. Anne’s story, a comment among thousands at this weblog, forced a decision Crabby has tentatively toyed with for two or three months: her work life is over in any meaningful sense and survival dictates that she cut her losses, sell her home in New York City and move to a less expensive part of the country. She began laying out plans for that yesterday.
This act goes by the formal name of forced retirement. Crabby hadn’t planned on it, she doesn’t like it and it will dramatically alter her future. She had counted on working until she made the choice to stop, but it has become evident that option has been removed from the table.
Crabby Old Lady is not the first, nor will she be the last, old person unwillingly shoved out of the workforce by the casual, everyday, ordinary and illegal discrimination – never punished – of human resources halfwits who believe age equals feeble-minded.
Is Crabby angry? You betcha. And sad and heartbroken and wretchedly unhappy to leave her home. Because she is generally hardwired that way, she’ll get over it - just not anytime soon. But at least, thanks to the wake-up call from Anne, the decision is made - and there is a kind of relief in that.