Posts Tagged ‘underemployment’

Doing the Limbo at 64

January 9, 2016

I remember back in the 1950s when I was growing up and attending Catholic school. They taught us that there’s a place called Limbo, where you go after death if you had never received baptism while living in the world. Although I am a mere Christian now, having been baptized in 1978 by own choice choice at the age of 27, it has been revealed to this protestant that there is indeed a place called Limbo.

But it is not actually a place; rather, it is a time, a time of life.

How do I know this?

I am in Limbo now.  I am learning that it is a stage of life through which you pass, before–not after– death, a kind of a nether time through which the maturing American sojourns, somewhere between ages 64 and 66.

When you turn 64, there are multiple signs that indicate you have arrived in Limbo. The first is, of course, remembering back to 1968 when the Beatles raised the profound question “Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m 64?”

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x158z5_beatles-when-i-m-sixty-four_music

On one level, the song is profound for the aging adult, insofar as it raises the question of one’s life-status or love-condition in relation to one’s spouse, or, as they say nowadays, one’s “significant other” or lack thereof.

On another level, the question itself–about being needed and fed–is critical for the aging adult, insofar as it raises the question of one’s life-status in relation to “the System.”

You know the System I’m talking about, the one that–as we thought back in the day–would relegate us all to little ticky-tacky houses where we’d all look just the same.

And once you start seeing the signs that you are approaching–or perhaps have already arrived in– Limbo, suddenly the omens are all over the place, and very plain to see.

For example, as I happened to tune in, a couple of days ago, to Diane Rehm’s show, in which the Grand mistress of inside-the-beltway grapevine NPR confab discussed the big “R” word with Teresa Ghilarducci,

http://thedianerehmshow.org/audio/#/shows/2016-01-07/teresa-ghilarducci-how-to-retire-with-enough-money/111702/@00:00

I learned that the assets so far accumulated by myself and my wife (six years younger than me) are, of course, not nearly enough to “make it through” the Retirement years, which is a special golden or rose-colored-glasses period  sometimes called the “rest of our life.”

Theoretically, our assets are not enough, especially with, you know, zero interest rates etcetera etcetera.

On the other hand, who the hell knows how much is enough?

Furthermore, this unstable scenario has been further destabilized by myself, yours truly, who recently, and oh-so-irresponsibly, decided to quit my job seven months before reaching the big SIX-FIVE road marker, because it was–as my body was daily communicating to me–wearing me out, after the past 45 years of uninterrupted work, the lion’s share of which was spent in construction and maintenance jobs.

There’s a reason (as I am discovering) that 65 is the big mile marker, the fork in the road where two paths diverge, as Robert Frost might have called it many and many a year ago.

In my case, I just didn’t quite make it that far, stopped short of the finish line with only seven months to go.

In one moment of time I morphed from one Bureau of Labor Statistical category to another. Whereas, I formerly was perhaps categorized as  employed but underemployed (being a college grad in a maintenance job), this statistical territory I now inhabit is a never-neverland somewhere between “unemployed” and “dropped-out of the labor force altogether–having given up on looking for another job!

Limbo!

The real hell of it is I’m still looking for a job, still striving to redeem myself from the stigma of being a labor-force dropout, still busting gut to add another few thousand bucks into that magic pot of IRA and/or 401K gold at the end of the Social Security rainbow.

Did I mention “gold”? Don’t even think about it, except all the online doomsayers are saying I need to buy it. But I wouldn’t know where to start. I mean, I’ve lived in the System all my life.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, where I’m filling blanks and checking boxes in online applications, the question becomes: who is going to hire a 64-year-old who just may be one of those  off-the-chart non-entitities who has “given up” on gainful employment, when there are multitudes of unemployed or underemployed 22-year-olds out there pounding the keyboard and the pavement looking for work?

Who? I ask you who?

Don’t think too hard. That’s been my problem all my life–thinking too much, and maybe writing too much too. (And if you believe that, I’ve got three novels, poised in cyberspace on the website linked below; they’re hanging there, suspended in electrons waiting to enhance your historical reading experience.)

So here I leave you with a closing anecdote. It is a dilemma wrapped in an enigma.

6:30 this morning, still dark. I just delivered my wife to her nursing job. I’m at the gas pump of a convenience store. I’m thinking. . .maybe I should go in there and ask for a job. Then I’m looking blankly at the gas pump as the digitals flash, and my eye wanders up to a sign on the gas pump. It says:

“Polar pop any size 69 cents”

And above that message is another little sign, with pictures of “Crown” cigarette packs, and an offer that smokers cannot refuse:

“$3.18 if you buy two.”

Do I really want to spend the last six months of my working life. . .

Fuhgedaboudit.

Smoke

for #BigIdeas2015 about reworking college

December 26, 2014

This morning I responded to Jeff Selingo’s education reform forum on LinkedIn, #BigIdeas2015.

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/big-idea-2015-lets-rethink-jeff-selingo

Here’s what I wrote:

I have been underemployed all my adult life, but that’s okay. The best things in life may be related, in some ways, to education, but satisfaction with life accomplishments are not absolutely dependent on education.

Now approaching the golden years of life, I have gathered a lifetime of useful knowledge, which I would like to pass on to the next generations. Here’s why:

My somewhat unpredictable forty+ years of employment and raising children with my wife have convinced me that a broadly diversified foundation of education is absolutely worth more that its weight in gold. In modern life, especially now in our age of digital communications, there is no substitute for developing three essential educational components, which collectively  constitute an advantageous preparation for successful life. Here are the three components:

~ knowing how to read, and read thoroughly with comprehension and critical analysis

~ knowing how to write, and express yourself and what you have learned

~ knowing how to communicate verbally, and accurately (for instance, without constant mentions of “like” and “um.”)

In 1973, I was a confused, but fairly well-read, senior at LSU. With a concentration in general humanities, mostly political science and English, I managed to escape four and a half years of trying to figure this “education” thing out. Fortunately, that prolonged effort yielded for me a baccalaureate, which I held in my hand while launching a “career” in life insurance sales.

The life insurance phase was short-lived. But that did not, as it later turned out, matter so much.

After moving to Florida, spending the better part of a year selling policies to low-income people, I moved into newspaper advertising sales for a season, then into printing sales for about five years.

Then I decided to become a carpenter. Ha! Who’d have thunk it?

So I was, making a long story short, in construction for twenty-five+ years. I built houses, working for contractors in North Carolina where we had settled with our young family. Thus we managed to make a living, feed the kids and all that. My wife moved out of her stained glass business and into nursing shortly after our third child entered middle school.

All along the way, I was a reader, and that is the key to education–learning how to be a lifelong reader, and thereby cultivating a lifelong proficiency for self-education.

About ten years ago, I decided to enter the field of education. After taking courses part time for a couple of years at our local state university, I acquired several teaching certifications. After Praxis, student teaching and acquiring certifications in four subjects, I worked in a school for about two years in a supportive role.

Then the crash of ’08 came, followed by the budget-cutting of ’09. One thing led to another, and our own household budgetary requirements required that I move back into construction-related work, which is to say, maintenance. Now I fix things in 92 apartments; its a full time job, and works well with my wife’s nursing career.

Eight years ago, I started writing and publishing novels; I’m working on the fourth one now, which is named King of Soul. You can find more about those writing projects and the blogs that complement them at  http://www.careyrowland.com.

Also, the improvised resumé includes forty+ years of writing songs and recording them in various studios.

Here’s hoping that before all this is over, I will be able to fulfill the educator role in some way. There is a lot to be said for a life that is spent in continuous reading and seeking knowledge. Knowledge of both kinds: the artistic, and the practical. I do hope to pass it on; a classroom setting could be helpful.

So, if you are considering a rework of  the “college” experience, shoot me a digital note and we will talk about #BigIdeas2015. Thanks.

carey.rowland.glasshalffull@gmail.com

Glass half-Full