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Awareness Magazine
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Reflexions

“Elderly Gentleman” Seeks Employment

By Robert Ross

 

“Retirement at sixty-five is ridiculous. When I was sixty-five I still had pimples.”      — George Burns

 

Winter 2012

Ski Patrol radios for a medic: “An elderly gentleman has taken a fall.” “Middle age! Middle age!” I shout, while standing nearby waiting for help. A small facial cut and wounded pride, hardly worth all the fuss, but elderly gentleman?

The cut healed in a day or two, but the emotional scar left a permanent gash in my self image. In my heart I’m forty-something, in spite of how I may look to others, in spite of the calendar. Forty something, that’s it! The following year, when I found myself face to face with the reality of my age, it was quite a wake-up call.

 

 Fall 2013

I have expensive hobbies like skiing and traveling, but a budget that’s currently on life support. The plan was to find work for the coming holiday season. The big question that had dominated my thoughts since last year’s ski accident was: who would possibly want to hire someone who is perceived as an elderly gentleman? After all, elderly gentlemen often shuffle rather than walk, constantly quip: “What? Can you speak a little louder?” And, at times are seen mumbling to themselves. These are not marketable attributes.

The holidays are festive. Shopping, eating, and family gatherings take center stage. Retailers seek cashiers, the Salvation Army hires bell-ringers; and delivery services, UPS, Fed-Ex, and the USPS, need drivers, sorters, and lifters.

Hiring begins in earnest in early November in preparation for Black Friday, the largest retail shopping day of the year. On the day after Thanksgiving businesses hope to go “into the black,” bookkeeping talk for, “turn a profit for the year.” In early October this elderly gentleman is about to embark on a job hunt, fully expecting to hear: “sorry, go to our web site, nope, website!” Or “good-luck, we’re not hiring.” But with a little persistence, I think maybe ...  just maybe

 

The Hunt Begins

After making a few face-to-face inquires about holiday jobs, e.g., at a retail store, with a Fed-Ex delivery person and the Post Office, the common response was: “Yes, we’ll be hiring for the holidays, go to our web site.” So, I went to a number of web sites. UPS, REI, and FedEx were not, at present, looking for seasonal workers. The online applications were for career positions. “Go to our web site” seemed an easy way to dismiss job seekers.

I googled: “how to find a job for the holidays,” which produced a number of ideas and web sites. For example, there was “How To Get A Seasonal Job” by Forbes magazine, and “How To Find A Holiday Job” by Kiplinger. I tweaked the google search and added the word “boomer,” finding sites like: seniorjobbank.org and jobsover50.com. These sites were a start. After a couple of days of filling out on-line applications though, two things dawned on me. First, the internet was one way — a relatively safe way — of avoiding rejection. Sit at the computer with a cup of coffee, fill out an app or two, push the send button, receive an automated response, and that’s it. Call it a day. There’s always tomorrow.

The second insight was: I’ve got a lot of skills and experiences that could be put to use over the holidays, the problem is, some of these skills were used 30 or 40 years ago, pre-computers, pre-smart phones, pre-everything. Horse and buggy days!

 

Parachutes

Time to up the ante in my search for a holiday job. One of the best career planning and job search books ever written is What Color is Your Parachute? by Richard Bolles. Now in its 43rd year of publication, the book is filled with exercises to identity favorite skills, values and desired work environments.

And, after skills and values are identified, Bolles lays out the job search.

I spent the next few days working through the exercises in the book in an attempt to zero in on my ideal skills, work environment, and values. Of course, there’s “ideal” and there’s the reality of the holiday season. Ideal: I want to be at La Jolla Cove, watching the sunset, using my favorite skills of contemplation and reflection. Reality: the holiday season needs someone standing at the door of a giant retail chain repeatedly blurting out: “Welcome to Walmart!” I can see there are going to be some compromises. The goal is to make money, not achieve Nirvana, I tell myself.

Turning to the book again, Bolles describes the job search as an art, not a science, involving some amount of luck. He goes on to say that “job hunting is always mysterious. Sometimes mind-bogglingly mysterious.” The daydreamer, the metaphysical part of me perks up. “Art, luck, mysterious,” sound like fun, an adventure, off to an unknown destination.

I printed up some business cards with my name, phone number and email address. At the top of the card were the words: November/December employment, full time/part time. This job search was going to be an adventure, a mysterious adventure, where serendipity plays a role.

My new plan would be to get out daily and talk to people, handing out my card, doing an interview of sorts. As Bolles stated: “An interview resembles dating, more than it does buying a used car (you). An interview is two people trying to decide if they want “to go steady.”

I’m ready to go steady!

Robert Ross can be reached by e-mail at: SanDiegoRoss@Yahoo.com   


Copyright  2013 by Robert Ross, all rights reserved