Pigeonholes, Labels and Misnomers

Pigeonholes, labels and misnomers were the reason for this questionable job offer. The worst part was the employer was clueless.

I was appalled at the employer’s candor and his mistaken belief I would be pleased to accept his offer of employment.

I hoped I would not end up living in a cardboard box with a grocery cart for transportation, as I faxed my response to his questionable offer of employment.

“First of all, I want to thank you for the interview and the subsequent offer of employment. However, I feel I must decline. You indicated that your hiring manager believed employing a “Senior Citizen” would be an asset to your company. She theorized it would take longer for me to complete tasks; therefore I would be a more focused employee.

I am assuming you believe it would take me most of the day to shuffle to my computer and figure out how it works. Then it would be time for lunch and if I managed to remain upright and awake, I would have to be productive only four hours of each day. This would explain the salary range as it appears to be based on four hours of compensation for an eight hour work day.

You further stated that you believe I would be a loyal employee because I would be grateful to have a job at my age. Kind of reminds me of that old saw about ugly girls showing gratitude for a kiss.”

Many seasoned employees want to remain in the workforce as we are eager to remain in the mainstream. More of us are working because we have to. We don’t have a sense of entitlement because we arrived at a certain age. We are fit and knowledgeable and look for ways to remain employable in today’s job market.

After the adrenaline recedes from reading about re-tooling your career, finding your passion; doing what you’ve always wanted to do, cold, hard reality sets in. Most women don’t have Joan Rivers budget for cosmetic surgery and the only red carpet we will see is the one in the temporary staffing office cooling our heels, waiting for one more shot to prove we still got it.

Some HR gurus added a twist to the diversity issue and suggested an appropriate place for us to earn our daily bread might be at drug stores and fast food restaurants.

How bad for business can it be for us to be seen stacking canes and incontinent supplies on drugstore shelves?

Wouldn’t the retired gent who meets his buddies for the “Senior Citizen Breakfast Special” feel more at ease with one of HIS peers serving it to him?

I have responded to job announcements at retirement centers and declined for an interview because they “hired a candidate whose qualifications more clearly matched the position description”. If you were a prospect shopping retirement centers, who would you be more comfortable with helping you make a lifestyle decision; someone more like you, or the twenty-something salesperson?

My father, who worked full time until age 80, bristled at being offered a “Senior Citizen Reward” or any discount associated with that category of consumer.

At the time, I was amused. Now, I empathize. Who, in his right mind, really derives pleasure from being called a “Senior Citizen”? What group of people does it define? Does it kick in when you become eligible for AARP membership? I don’t know how other people feel but I’m ready for a new definition.

Those who use the term “senior citizen” to identify a person, usually sport a cheesy, benevolent smile as though they are introducing two homely people on a blind date. Come on; these guys know they are homely just as older people know they are a bit long in the tooth. We can skip the designation.

The hiring manager who theorized about my capabilities will soon have an opportunity to personally experience being a focused employee. The company went out of business and she is inches shy of being a “Senior Citizen”.

Note: Originally published November 2007, Beaches Leader, Jacksonville, Fl. And, it really happened to me.

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