By Irene Anderson – CTACC
Just when we thought that our generation (Boomers) had helped to eradicate all discrimination – along comes a ‘not too new one’. One that has taken on some frightening twists; age discrimination. It once meant that you were not hired because of your age, however now you are now exposed to harassment and outright hatred, caused by ignorance of the facts and realities that the boomer generation faces.
Mary works at a popular Canadian retailer, they hire older workers. Why? They don’t book off sick, they don’t spend time texting friends, or talking on the phone while serving customers. They are reliable and pretty much follow the rules at work.
Mary was at work one day, serving customers with a friendly smile, her regulars love her. She manages to upsell most of her co-workers because she has such a great way with people. All in all a great worker, Mary really enjoys her work.
One day, a young man (lets call him David) approached Mary and out of the blue said “You ought to be ashamed of yourself!’
Taken aback, Mary said, “Pardon me?” David repeated “You ought to be ashamed of yourself for working at your age!”
Mary was shocked and couldnt even speak – the young man walked away. Mary felt hurt and was near tears, but had to carry on with her work. David came back a few minutes later and said “I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings, but working at your age is taking bread out of younger workers mouths!”
Again Mary did not know what to say, she was so upset she called her manager in tears and said, “I am afraid to be out front in the store, I don’t know what to do.”
Now, maybe David was unemployed, but that’s no excuse for his behaviour. He is the one who should be ashamed. His remark was made out of ignorance obviously. Heres what he doesnt know.
Mary is 61 years old with no pension plan she has worked all of her adult life, to raise three great children. Mary has a mortgage, just like David does, she has bills to pay and she needs a job. Besides, Mary likes to be busy her children are grown up and out of town. Being a person who likes to be social, her retail job is just what she needs.
Mary is not unlike many others of her generation, those who are still working out of necessity or because they are too young to retire.
David also doesnt know is that in both Canada and the U.S, there are more people over the age of 60 than the total of high school and college students*. This means if Marys generation does not work, fewer taxes are going toward health care, universities and other public entities. (Thanks Mary!)
These types of interchanges between the generations are not uncommon, but they unlikely to be this drastic. Some are just thinking what others are saying; its time for our generations, Boomers and beyond to educate the younger generations to support older workers. After all we are the ones paying the public bills.
*(statistics from Beyond age rage David Cravit)