Retirees are Valuable

As the mariner grows older, ancillary skills fade. It is harder to build good woodwork. It is more tiresome to manage gardens. Ailments slow him physically. Boat repair is at a crawl. What remains in retirement and encroaching old age is a set of skills that are second nature and were honed, practiced and studied across a lifetime. Writers remain writers, researchers remain researchers, administrators and bookkeepers remain the same. It is what they know; it is what they have trained their brains to do for entire careers.

The same is true of a hundred jobs, whether in the home, or at the factory, or driving big rigs. They are expert at these lifelong skills.

The question, then, is why aren’t these expert skills still of value in the marketplace? We are healthier in old age; mental acuity extends further and further as science finds answers to longevity.

The answer of course, is prejudice against people past 55 unless they have power or money and even then, it’s the power and money that is the real value. If many could, they would take the power and money and put the old person out to pasture.

The mariner sees in himself a waste of extensive training in management methodologies. He sees a waste of the skills that managed $300,000,000 contracts and hundreds of people. Today he is in a Podunk town that has no projects (and no paid staff – a critical component).

What do older folk do? How do they carry their pride into old age? How do they leverage the wisdom of decades of experience and tested skills?

The more forceful and detail oriented administrators impose themselves on the body politic – involved in as much as they can possibly handle. But for planners, organizers, sophisticated leaders and planning folk, there is little use for them.

The mariner tried to teach team management to a group that was generally retired for a number of years. It was a useless exercise. By retirement age, there is little that can sway the lifetime of experiences that a person has used to shape a lifelong career.

The mariner has considered new career directions: elected office, county planning, joining a local firm in development, but none seems to congeal to his life pattern.

The mariner is destined, at some point, to seek the solitude and challenge of the sea. It is a dream.

Still, the issue remains: are older folk being shortsheeted in the public workplace? Maybe salaried jobs await us if we pursue the needs of our society.

Ancient Mariner

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