Dear reader, can I call you that? Someone took me aside in a private email and suggested that perhaps I should stop using that phrase because it was “quaint and old fashioned”. As if that’s a bad thing. I’m quaint and old fashioned in many ways. I’m also forward and progressive in many ways. People just don’t stick around long enough to get to know me. ^_^ Anyway, I like the moniker for y’all because it’s non-gendered, encompasses everyone, and it’s more intimate than saying “you”, I think. And of course I totally stole it from writers in the past such as Charlotte Brontë in Jane Eyre: “Reader, I married him.” And Miss Manners, who almost always addressed her audience as “Gentle Reader”. Now I’m no Miss Manners, but I do like to address my audience, hence, Dear Reader. Because y’all are reading what I’m writing and therefore my reader and I like adjectives, so “Dear Reader” because it also works as a salutation… 🙂 I’m efficient that way.
But I’m putting off what I wanted to talk about… My mind is kind of muddled today.
Back when I was a kid, my parents expected to be hired by a company in their early twenties. And if all went well, they expected to work for that company for most, if not all, of their adult lives. The plan was to slowly work their way up through the corporate ladder until they reached as high as their education allowed, and then work their way into retirement with a pension from said company. My dad was Navy, but he got an early out and went into law enforcement, my mom worked on a Naval Shipyard (Mare Island) until it closed down. Both worked at their respective jobs for a long time and when Mare Island closed, it was a devastating blow not only to her but to just about everyone who worked there because people back then did not plan for being laid off. It just didn’t happen with any regularity. Mare Island closed in 1996. By then my mom had been working there for nearly 15 years, if I remember correctly. She wasn’t a young woman, and no one had use for an aging, female metal worker. I don’t think she ever recovered financially from that.
Anyway, my parent’s generation expected — for the most part — to be working for the same company pretty much for their entire adult life. By the time I hit the job market, that was changing. I never expected to work for the same company for more than five to ten years. Then again I, personally, worked temp jobs for most of my career because of my bipolar — office politics are one of my hardest triggers. I will blow up in a person’s face if they try and get me embroiled in the petty politics that seem to abound in most offices. I just can’t deal with it. Best I’m there temporarily or not at all. It is, dear reader, one of the things that makes me disabled. I don’t play well with other people in enclosed places. And other people just can’t seem to get the message to leave me alone and let me do my job. But again, I digress.
My generation (what people call Gen X), we didn’t expect to retire from a company with a pension. Pensions were being phased out all around us as soon as we hit the job market. We were given retirement funds in all their glory and expected to fund our own retirement. I totally remember the confusion between an IRA and a 401(k). They even had commercials about it. I’m pretty sure it’s due to two things. One, people started to live longer. It’s one thing to pay a pension to a few people for about five years after retirement, but quite another to fork out money to someone for another twenty years after they stop working for you. Also, more people entered the workforce — more women and minorities and the babies of the baby boomers. Can’t go paying all of those people monies when they retire, especially if they’re living longer, healthier lives. You know? That’s just simple economics. I mean, in my lifetime the retirement age went from 55 to 65. My grandparents retired at 55. My generation is not expected to retire until 65, and that might even go up before my generation retires. You never know. Another thought here, dear reader… Poor people? We don’t retire. We work until we can’t anymore or until no one will hire us. I never expected to retire before I met Douglas. I expected to work until the day I died or until no one would hire me anymore. After that, I expected to quietly fade away or something. Retirement is an affectation of the rich and middle class. Another thought I want to put out there… disabled people are not retired — I would totally work if I could — we cannot work. There’s a difference.
Anyway, jobs are different now. Especially in Doug’s field, and especially (it seems) here in Seattle. Nowadays it seems that companies — even big companies like Disney — hire a team of people to work on one thing — say a program that does something — an app if you will. And when that program is finished and out in the wild with little to no bugs, the company will lay that team off. That appears to be standard practice these days. So, even though Disney hired Doug for eighteen months — through October of this year — the app went out this past week and the team is getting laid off. Including Doug. So we can’t even rely on companies to fulfill the term of a contract nowadays. We were counting on that 18 months of work, and we hoped that because it was a big company like Disney… Oh well, it looks like people will be terminated early once the job is done. Even in bigger companies there’s “budget” issues. Luckily, we saved a bit of money so we’re not totally panicking yet, but damn, this is getting old fast.
I don’t know if it’s like this elsewhere in the country or in other fields, but I wish, for Doug’s sake, that he finds a job with a company who will keep him on until he does retire. Just something nice and quiet that pays the bills and lets him work out his last decade or so of work without having to dust off his resume twice a year. It’s stressful for him. And he isn’t getting any younger. You know?