What an amazing world we live in. Here I am 81 years old, and the job offers are still pouring in. Just the other day there was a note in my email queue-- “AMAZON WANTS TO HIRE YOU.”
Other big name companies vying for my talents include FedEx, UPS, Walmart, JP Morgan Chase, Costco and Pepsi. Has something gone so haywire in the land of algorithms that there are now OLD-gorithms, systems that target senior citizens day after day with help wanted ads and other nonsense?
Although retired for 13 years, occasionally I’ve wondered what it would be like to get a paycheck again. Not in the news business where I spent more than four decades; I wouldn’t feel comfortable there these days. In many places, the craft I knew of writers, editors, producers, reporters and technicians has been replaced by one of silliness, not only in what is considered news but what the people doing it are called. A friend at a major TV network is listed in the company directory as an Ingest Manager. Judging by that title, you might think he was a dumpy sack of beans who trained odd souls to compete in hot dog-eating contests. Nope. He’s lean and trim and simply oversees various video feeds coming into a newsroom.
One news outlet offers a product called Newsplus. The news part I understand, or think I do, but what’s the plus? Foot rubs? Car washes? Lottery tickets? Earmuffs?
When the “gee-I’d-like-to-be-working-again” sentiment comes over me, I usually think about my dream job—manning a cash register at some place like 7-Eleven. In all the hours I spent working at A&P supermarkets during college, never once was I allowed behind a cash register. I could stock shelves, bag groceries, wrap meat, unload produce and mop the floors, but I wasn’t good enough to handle money. This was not the decision of merely one haughty A&P manager. Managers and assistant managers in two cities miles apart in Indiana and Illinois felt I was unqualified for some reason to deal with money. This is a sentiment still shared on Long Island by my wife Irene.
The truth is I probably couldn’t work an eight-hour shift now, especially if there were a lot of standing involved. When I’m in the kitchen making an apple pie or washing a sink-load of heavy pans, I have to sit down about every 20 minutes. Still it could be fun to respond to some of these job come-ons, such as the one that claimed: “local employers have asked us to contact you regarding new positions that they feel you are likely a great fit for.”
Let’s pretend that I decided to reply to “Steve,” the name given at the bottom of the email.
How’s it going? I was pleased to get your recent note and actually thrilled that it wasn’t an ad claiming to have the lowdown on my credit rating or suggesting I upgrade my phone or a body part.
I wouldn’t mind making some money again and would be interested in hearing from you if any of the local employers you mentioned—I’m assuming “local” means a company that is based within 40 miles of my house—needs some part-time help.
To get the ball rolling, let me fill you in on my skills and my habits. While I’m not a computer whiz, I consider myself competent in using a laptop, a mini iPad or a smart phone. Not all three at once. I’m not a teenager. I try to keep up with the new stuff, and I’ve heard of PayPal and Uber and actually used both. Again, not at the same time.
If anyone is looking for a friendly cashier who can shoot the breeze with the best of them, I’m their guy. Or if the trend now is for employers to want a cold, unsmiling cashier, I can handle that assignment too. I’m pretty good at math and know I wouldn’t have to depend on any darn machine to tell me how much change a customer had coming. Heck, I’m so old (is seasoned a better word on a resumé?) I wouldn’t bat an eye if someone handed me a Kennedy half dollar while wearing an Estes Kefauver coonskin cap.
I’m healthy, reliable and conscientious. Trying to do good work is in my blood. (So too are a ton of pills —all legal—but that’s a story for another time, maybe when we have a couple of beers after my shift some day.)
Steve, my daily schedule seldom varies and frankly I would hate to change it much. There’s a visit to the gym first thing in the morning, followed by an hour or more reading newspapers at breakfast. Then there’s checking the TV several times to see what’s going on and how down or up or sideways our 401-k is, a nap after lunch (which some days has been preceded by a nap after breakfast), and a couple of hours at the computer working on essays and letters. My routine also includes a number of unscheduled breaks, breaks closely associated with being a well-hydrated 81-year-old.
The bottom line—do people in the business world still use that phrase?—is I would be totally available to work a couple of days a week from around 3:30 to 4:45 p.m. I wouldn’t expect a big salary or many benefits, though an office coffee machine with a pot of decaf always brewing would be wonderful. I’d willingly supply my own brown sugar cubes.
Hope to hear from you soon. My home phone number is listed in the telephone directory. If you call and there’s no answer, please leave a message. We’re either out of the house or both taking naps.
(This originally appeared in the February 2019 issue of Great South Bay Magazine.)