Sunday, February 3, 2013

Erroneous agetribution

The quote-of-the-day in this morning's NYT reads as follows, doing an acute disservice to greater Houston in the process (Willis, TX being just north of Conroe):

"When you're older, they just see gray hair and they write you off."

This is attributed as follows:  ARYNITA ARMSTRONG, a 60-year-old in Willis, Tex., who has been looking for work for five years since losing her job at a mortgage company.

Say it ain't so: condolences to the old fart, who appears fit and healthy but is summarily damned by his balding gray head??
Microsoft clip-art.
Every time I see something like Ms. Armstrong's quote, I cringe.  I cringe because most of the people who make those kinds of statements are in such acute denial.  They have absolutely no grasp of how the real world works or why it works as it does.  I cringe when I think of all the senior citizen petroleum industry veterans who have been begged and pleaded back out of their happy retirements because there aren't enough workers available to manage all the new operations that have developed because of the current oil boom
I was on the phone with one of my professional cohorts late Friday as he was driving in the Karnes City area, and he said, "There are so many flares here now... the sky is so bright that you don't even need to turn your car headlights on at night. I'm not kidding."

I can spot Willis, Texas on this photo as well - can you?  Hint:  it's relatively close to the employment action.

Screengrab from this Scientific American blogsite
The industry veterans who re-emerge from retirement don't need the money - they are already financially set for the rest of their lives.  They return to the oil field often forfeiting their Social Security benefits in the process, return purely out of a sense of allegiance to their cohorts and their companies, because this thing called an oil boom would be utterly unable to function without their participation, the shortage of skilled workers is so great. 

In my work, I routinely encounter the un-retired who are not sixty but are rather seventy to eighty years old!!  Their hair is not gray - it has long since turned white.  And they are working at six-figure salaries for only one reason: because they feel responsible in the old-school way which is increasingly rare these days.

And in stark contrast to those veterans are the people who whine their erroneous attributions such as age-related discrimination.  Those are often the people who, even in their advanced ages, are unwilling to accept the very same reality that we've been trying so passionately to teach our teenager:  that you must see the world the way it is - NOT the way you personally would prefer it to be.  And if you don't identify an in-demand job description that is palatable to you and that you can successfully gain skills for (even though it might not be your favorite choice), you will spend the rest of your life mired in a state of emotional uncertainty, financial insecurity, periodic if not chronic unemployment, and fear. 

It's just that simple, and yet so many people are unable to accept it.   You can't sit there and indulge in a pity party because nobody wants to hire you to do a job that society doesn't need done.  You have to go where the jobs are. 

You commercial investigative journalists who stumble across this blog rant... you may wish to develop a feature that documents the Texas Un-Retired, because theirs is an utterly fascinating human interest story.  Such a feature would make a satisfying counterweight to some of the warped perspective emphasized by the NYT.  It's the kind of true story that so many of the young and the old desperately need to read. 

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