Time Goes By was conceived as a platform to investigate “what getting older is really like.” When it was launched late in 2003, I had spent six or seven years researching aging only to find that all but a tiny portion of popular writing and professional research focused on decline, debility and disease.
Since no one wants to die, I reasoned, there must be something good about getting old, so I decided to write about it myself. I wasn’t clever enough to have a goal in mind beyond a vague idea of seeing where the work would take me, and the surprises have been many. A few:
- More people than I expected think getting older is just fine, but…
- More people by magnitudes spend billions of dollars a year on bogus anti-aging products
- The more I’ve learned about aging, the more there is to know
- Real friendship is possible across the ether of cyberspace
- Blogging - on any topic or no particular topic - is so good for elders, it is worth encouraging, promoting and teaching
- The prevalence of ageism and age discrimination is worse than I imagined
Sometimes that last item all but defeats me. Every now and then, there is an ageism story so horrific that I’m tempted to hit the delete button on the entire blog and lose myself in mystery stories for the rest of my life. Today is one of those days.
Intending to sign up for broadband internet service, Mrs. Greening-Jackson stopped in Carphone Warehouse, a UK-based chain of communications stores…
“The young man said ‘Sorry, you’re over 70. It’s company policy. We don’t sign anyone up who is over 70.’
“Later a young lady said company policy is that anyone over 70 might not understand the contract. She said, ‘If you would be prepared to go to the shop in town and take a younger member of your family we might give you a contract.’
“’I have just completed a visa form to go to Russia. Last year we did one for walking the Wall in China and here is this person saying I would not be able to understand a basic form – and it was basic. It is pure ageism.’
"’Somebody has decided when you turn 70 you lose a lot of your mind. I find this is ridiculous.’"
- - Thisislondon, 3 September 2006
The TimeGoesBy Bias Test makes the bigotry in the company’s policy crystal clear: in the phrase, “anyone over 70 might not understand the contract,” substitute “blacks” or “women” for “anyone over 70.”
With apparently no shame, Carphone Warehouse defends an offensive policy against elders they would not dare use against other groups. And although a new law prohibiting age discrimination in the workplace goes into effect next month in the U.K., it does not apply to consumers.
Imagine how life would be for elders if all retailers and services operated on Carphone Warehouse's principle.
Many years ago, I dated a man who was a knowledgeable and astute political critic. Often, after an evening discussing the state of the world, he would wind down to the same, irrefutable conclusion: “Nothing is getting any better.”
And nothing in regard to ageism and age discrimination has gotten any better in the years I’ve been writing Time Goes By. It is so tiring, so discouraging.
[Hat tip to Sophy Merrick, Liz Ditz of I Speak of Dreams and many others.]