Getting Old is Hard
A Sense of Place

Forced Retirement

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.


Comments

It breaks my heart to read this but I wish you only good things as the new plan grows into being... "a kind of relief" if a very very sad one...

Unfortunate, this is the narrative laid out for many of us. Too bad we can't simply offer our weblog address as a resume. Then perhaps they'd see what they're missing by overlooking experience and ability.

I wish you would come here and we could walk and talk in Fairmount Park!

I am angry, sad, heartbroken and wretchedly unhappy with you about this.

Hi there! I was just out in Portland, had a wonderful time. I even house hunted. Are you still thinking about moving there?

Sad, sad news, Ronni, and I'm hurting with you today. A recent post about the love you have for your home in NY serves as a backdrop for me to this news. I am so sorry for your loss. When you can - as the difficulty of this decision "lets go" a bit, I would like to hear about the places you're considering as you look to the future. For today, however, I am remembering you.

How heartbreaking it is to hear of your well-reasoned decision to retire and leave your beloved New York. I can only try to imagine your angst. As one who has endured two "forced relocations" and one who now feel that she knows you, you are absolutely correct: You will endure. And, you'll find your own happiness. For now, we your readers, weep with you. Love, Hugs, and Hope are sent your way from Kansas.

It is right to be angry.
Companies are stupid not to see value.

Ronni
write a book. There are a dozen of them in you.

Take Care
Michael

I am so sorry - these things are not fair. But I hope that, now that the decision is made, you get as much good from the path you have chosen as you can. I'm just sorry the one you wanted was not an option in the end. :/

If your decision is indeed final, it deeply saddens me. In the short period of time I've come to know you through your blog, I've come to associate you so closely with New York that I can't imagine you being anywhere else. But I understand the realities of your situation and how it has influenced your decision.

I am so sorry and angry for you. I cannot guage the state of ageism in the US from here in London, only know it is really bad here and it sounds worse there. But if you've been jobhunting for nearly a year your decision doesn't seem unrealistic. I am 50 and I operate from the presumption that when I leave my present job it must be for self-employment because I would not expect to get another salaried position. I left my last job three years ago, before I was pushed, because everyone over forty was being edged out. And this was in a charity (what you'd call a non-profit, I think) not a cut-throat industry. These days there are so many ways of working that don't involve salaried employment and the possibilities for someone of your talents must be vast, but sadly maybe not so vastly lucrative.

'Fear and helplessness in the deepest part of your being' is a horrible thing to be feeling. My heart goes out to you. I wish you all the best and certainly hope to hear in due courseall about where life takes you next.

And, yes, write a book.

What a major decision you have come to and that has taken courage. I'm sorry you will leave a beloved home and will be sad about it for awhile. Yet a new path will bring new excitement and adventures. Wishing you strength for this new journey.

What an insane society we've crafted to even consider not hiring a bright, articulate, imaginative woman who also has the benefit of not having hatched yesterday because some -- as my friend Marn calls them, zygote -- decided 64 is old. Come to Texas Ronni, down here women are just getting started at 64. I personally know a woman in her eighties who still barrel races and another who died at 101 when she was thrown from the horse she saddled herself.

It was about a year ago that I looked around my cubicle at work... reflected on how hard it had been to find this job back when I was only 50... factored in that I would never be able to "retire" in Southern California... and promised myself that I would not turn 60 in that cubicle.
At some point I think one has to ask: "Am I going to enjoy my Golden Years or what?" I'll be 59 and a half in nineteen months; and I promised my wife when I brought her out here last November that I'd take her back to the Smokies then.
P.S. I suspect that you probably won't really retire. I question your capacity to disengage.

Ronni,
Change is hard, always. Even when it is our own choice, it is still difficult to uproot ourselves and replant. But, that process also allows our roots to grow stronger and reach out to new people and places.

"What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well." (The Little Prince)

You will find a new well, Ronni. You are a strong, intelligent, beautiful woman who knows when to bend like the willow in a blustery gale.

Sitting here miles away, I cannot offer more than words of encouragment and acknowledgement of your sorrow, but know that your readers care a great deal for you.

Sallie forth!

That is sad--depressing even--news indeed. It will probably end up being an incredible opportunity for discovery, but I understand that right now it just hurts.

Love to you.

Oh Ronni, I gasped in shock when I read of your decision to leave your beloved home in New York. Whatever you decide to do, and wherever you decide to do it, your readers will be with you every step of the way.

Please take some hope from my assurance that not all of us youngsters are so stupidly, horribly ageist.

All best wishes to you, Ronni.

Sad news, indeed. Surely no one has questioned your competence, despite the decades lived. Your abilities, intelligence and savvy come through in every sentence you write. I will be in NYC next week, and I'll think of you and your decision. But please don't think of it as an ending - look on it as the beginning to a wonderful new start in life.

Oh Ronni, I feel so sad for you. You love New York soo and for you to leave will be hard. Transitions are difficult but knowing you, you will open new doors and find new opportunities.

One never knows what is around the corner.

My best to you.

Millie

I am the second oldest person in my law office. I think my boss is probably a year or two younger than I. The other attorneys are all a good 5 to 15 years younger than I am. I turned 50 in Feb. and I was mortified to find out that my paralegal had passed around a card for me with "50" prominently displayed on it.

I just had knee surgery and I'm returning to work with a limp. I dread going back because my limp will make me a walking target for the ageism that already runs rampant in my New York office.

You have every right to be ultra, extra, super duper crabby! I'm sorry for the way you've been treated.

This sucks! Words fail me. Well, they haven't actually failed me. The words that come to mind just shouldn't be used in polite company. Sorry.

Ronnie,
I agree with a few other comments here, write a book. Draft a proposal and take it to a publisher, show them your blog. You are the first blog I open in the morning and I know you will have written something that makes me think. You and a few others have inspired me to begin to write again and start my own blog series. Write a book about your experience in media production and I will order it now. You could also propose a series or two to a magazine or newspaper. The series about your mother should be published. I read that and oh, it made me think about my own mom and the future.
Writing and the arts are the professions where the older, the better. I read somewhere that you can't really write a good children's book until you are old enough to be a grandmother.
I am 53, I have been self employed most of my life, I will work doing interesting things until I can't work. I don't have benefits, but I have the freedom to do what I want. You have to be self reliant to be self employed but the freedom is worth it. You can do it. Look at all the devoted readers you have already rooting for you!

This is a very sad day.

Dear Ronni,

It's so very sad to hear of your decision - and to be forced to leave the beautiful home in NY that you love so much. It is a difficult time of change but please don't forsake the future.

One of the reasons I retired after 32 years with the US gov (most of those years with one agency), was the creeping feeling the last 6 years at Wash DC (where I had transferred to from Arizona) that I no longer had the respect and authority that my long experience had always given me. The 30-somethings were taking over and I do think now that my knowledge and experience were discounted because I was in my 50s, one of the "oldsters". Maybe I told too many "war stories" of the old days. But reading your posts has convinced me that yes, I was experiencing age discrimination in a suttle way, for as my years piled up, so my influence declined. After having had so many years outside of DC where I was so respected and given so much responsibility, to be slowly reduced to an "oldster" with no influence, working for a 30-something -- that was hard to take. I'm sure this was a major reason for me to retire as soon as I was eligible.

But a new and different but challenging life awaits in retirement...where I can find venues where my work and experience has worth, and the same is true for you. I'm moving back to Calif in a week - I don't know what life awaits me there, but looking forward to building a new one.

And on that note, I better get back to packing....

Take care and best wishes,
Melinda

I have felt your pain like many of those who posted comments here but that's in the past tense. I moved to Austin six years ago from California where I had a fun job with a great small company there. My wife was transferred by her employers and it was, as the saying goes, "an offer we couldn't refuse" Since I had been working for a high tech company in California and Austin was in the middle of the short high-tech "boom" (which was in fact the bubble that burst) I had no fear about getting a job as good or better than the one I had just left.

I was 64. I spent about six months interviewing with mostly courteous and often very bright CEO's of internet startups and then one day realized that I was wasting a lot of time and emotional energy. These thirty something CEO's were never going to hire someone who was older than some of their grandparents and if one was crazy enough to hire me I would never have passed the 90 day probation period.

I had requested bids on the landscaping for our new home. The lowest was almost $20,000. I saved at least $15,000 by doing it myself. I've been retired for these past 5 years and I really don't miss working at all.
Good luck- You're going to be fine after the shock wears off

No, your retirement is when YOU say it is. I mean, when you move, write a book based on this blog. Get out and raise Hell about age discrimination. I hear what you're saying about fear, but the THEY that are forcing retirement and are discriminating against us need a kick in the pants!

My first reaction was "Write a book", too. And I see that others have seconded and thirded the motion. Your writing is incisive and full of wisdom. And your subject matter has a large audience. Your series on Social Security could run in any magazine. You have wit, grace, and style. You could be writing that missing column on aging for MSM...you could be one of those commentators in front of the camera, not just a support person behind. You could!

Write - I agree with the above posts. You write well - you have an audience already made. I'd also look at some periodicals and either write some articles or toy with the idea of a column. There are many doors for you yet to open.

I also agree with the above comments about writing a book, contributing to a magazine - hell, why don't you start a magazine which could be an extension of your blog.

Good luck with your new ventures Ronni. We're all rooting for you.

Oh Ronni, I'm so sorry to hear that you will have to leave your beloved home. What kind of crazy society do we live in when you work all your life to gain experience and then when you are at an age where that experience can be consolidated and can provide real benefits for an employer, you are turned away. I agree, though, that yuo shodul look at starting a writing project - either a magazine or possibly a book. How about a compilation of contributions from TGB and the fine older bloggers you feature in your sidebar? There is something similar being done by the food bloggers, so why not??

I'll be thinking of you.

Ronni:
I'm just seeing this post for the first time tonight (I've been away for the weekend). I know that you had imagined this possibility before, but the decision to make it a reality must be a shock.
Let me know if/when you'll be poking around here. I think it's a great place to retire.


When I saw this article (http://www.news.com.au/story/0,10117,15235650-1248,00.html) about age discrimination when applying for a job I thought I'd post it as a comment here.

It is strange reading this because I am contemplating something related myself. I'm coming up to 60 - next year - and finding that work, even though I'm self employed, is getting in the way of all the things I really want to do. The upshot is that even at this advanced (to others anyway) age, I'm contemplating a change in career. I know I'm lucky in being able to do this - I've already retired once and so I'm reasonably secure financially.

The message I mean to give is simply this - the end of a working life is not the end of life. I don't suppose you will give in to that anyway, but I know from my own experience that these niggling doubts can creep in.

Ronni,

You are stepping into a whole new world with this decision. I have been reading your weblog for some time now and failed to realize that our paths were so different. Now, I truly understand the depths of your pain.

Having made the same transition several years ago, I can only offer you the assurance that there is life in the hinterlands where talented people of great culture and greater age have found places to gather and create anew.

By creating anew, I do not mean macrame or decoupage. I see people of my age (70+) launching businesses, writing and PUBLISHING! and having a hell of a time networking with other talented people of all ages.

When you write your books, you will find plenty of support and assistance is waiting for you.

I will have a section about ageism in my next book, "Who's in Charge?" and you have been the inspiration. Keep those marvelous posts coming!

First, is this some kind of a Web record? I don't know how many vistors view your blog but the are an awful lot who have responded to your post with sympathy, support and - anger!
If we were all 30 or 40 years younger we'd be marching on the Capitol but ours is not the age of activism. Alas!

My wife, who is 13 years my junior is genuinely fearful that one of these days she will be asked to resign. She is still not sixty but occupies a very visible, high profile position and though still attractive and healthy is not exactly the personna for the job she's held for the past 15 years.
The injustice of a society that kowtows to youth and physical beauty and expects women over fifty to "dissappear" when the grey and wrinkles become evident is not only unfair and unpleasant it is truly immoral

I came across you blog in a web search regarding the exact topic of your rant: ageism in the workplace. I am researching this topic for a masters degree but it is more personal than that. I, too, was the victim of ageism by the state police in new york. Sad thing is, that I, and my generation, are 10 times the Investigators that our younger replacements are. It appears that experience and work ethic matter little to the bureaucracy. I hope your relocation went well. I am presently working to free an innocent man from prison (Martin Tankleff) which utilizes my investigative skills in the exact opposite way I did when "on the job" which was putting guilty guys in prison. I still feel frustrated and fearful of finding employment, so I know how you feel. I got involved in politics, as well, to fight for our generation of "baby boomers" who not only don't want to retire but financially can't retire. Don't quit! Surrender! Let go and let God!

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