Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The 65+ Club

Remember when you thought age 65 is when the fun begins? Well, maybe fun is the wrong word. Remember when most baby boomers thought age 65 is when they would retire? Seems like it was just yesterday but it was more like 10 or 15 years ago.

Things have changed (thanks to Bob Dylan for that line). And the more things change, the more we all need to adapt. We’re living longer for starters, and that makes it less practical to stop working at age 65. If we’re going to live well into our nineties we need to keep working to pay for that extra time. Plus, all the research indicates that the longer we stay mentally and physically engaged, the healthier we’ll be in both mind and body.

Whether it’s because we can’t afford to retire or we just want to stay engaged with our work, it has become an accepted fact that age 65 is no longer the cutoff point. Baby boomers seem to have readily adjusted to this fact of life, but what about the rest of society?

Employers are recognizing the advantages and disadvantages of older workers. We have experience but maybe are not as open to new ideas and methods. You don’t have to pay as much, but our healthcare costs are higher. Working for younger managers can older be challenging, but boomers are proving resilient when it comes to keeping up with technology and adapting to new ideas. Boomers are less about reaching the top of the heap and more about contributing something useful to the team, and that’s a good thing for any organization.

In the end, I think baby boomers will just be grateful if they can continue to be paid a decent wage for being a productive worker who still has skills and experience that are valued by their employers. We’re all going to have to make adjustments to accommodate the changes brought on by longer lifespans. Someday, today’s 30 and 40-year old managers will be facing the same issue. By that time, it may be common for people to live into their one-hundreds, and the accepted age for retirement might be 75. What goes around, comes around, so my advice to younger managers is be kind to your boomer employees, and one day some young boss will be kind to you.

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept and at BoomSpeak. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Brothers On the Rock

It doesn’t take much logic to see why the natives have fondly given Newfoundland the nickname “The Rock.” Everywhere you turn, there are rocky promontories that tourists have come to see. Fog-bound ships – not so much. Plenty of vessels have been dashed to pieces at the foot of these massive precipices, but the brothers were not there to look at shipwrecks. We were in Newfoundland to hike and photograph the splendid landscapes that abound there. And to bond – whatever that might mean.

Growing up, we shared a bedroom for close to 15 years, but it had been a long time since we shared any space with that kind of confined proximity. As in maybe 50 years. On "The Rock," we were going to be sharing hotel rooms and rental homes in the outport villages where we would be with each other 24/7. I’m fairly certain that we each predicted that it would be a great trip if we didn’t kill each other.

I can only guess what my brother learned from the trip, but traveling with him for 14 days confirmed many things that I already knew. He will eat anything, particularly if it’s exotic. Cod tongue salad? Bring it on! (I ate one. It tasted like cod fish, but slimier). He can be relatively quiet, almost silent, for some long stretches and then just as suddenly get very talkative (As opposed to my ability to fill time and space with continuing monologues if necessary). His travel motto may be “more is better” or “two of everything is better than one” and his giant suitcase was proof of that. I thought he was crazy to check his gigantic bag and he thought I was nuts to have only one carry-on (I have not checked a bag since my honeymoon, 26 years ago). This difference in baggage philosophy might be about the widest gulf between us. I will say that he never lacked for gadgetry. Two sets of hiking poles, two binoculars, a suitcase just for camera and lenses, iPad, cell phones….he may have had a fax machine in there, I can’t rule it out.

What did I learn about him that I didn’t know? He snores. Loud enough to keep me awake on some occasions. He says that when I sleep, I make a noise like a death rattle. I claim it’s a form of tantric meditation. We’ll call that a draw. I also learned that our mutual interest in hiking and photography gives us a lot more in the compatibles column than in the incompatibles column.

I’ll give him the last word (other than to say that I would join him again if he invited me):

"It was a fun trip and no one got killed. You can’t ask for more."

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept and at BoomSpeak. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.