"How old would you be, if you didn't know how old you was?" ~ Satchel Paige
Here's my dilemma: I'm a 20-year-old, trapped in a 71-year-old body.
The front page of the Wall Street Journal, got me thinking. "Older Women Re-shape US Job Market"
To a generation who worked their whole lives, who never worried about getting jobs, sadly, having one at 72, is an anomaly. We fall into two categories. We either have jobs that we used to love, or that we hate but are holding on to for dear life, terrified what we'll do if we lose them.
Or, unable to find work for years and years, most have given up, even stopped looking. It's a shameful epidemic, a dirty little secret, for those of us who still have so much to contribute. I for one, feel my best years are ahead of me.
Why aren't there any new hires over the age of 60? Why do corporations pat themselves on the back for paid maternity and paternity leave, and not, 'We hired 500, 70-year-olds last month'.
I began my 40-year career as an advertising producer, in the Mad Men days at Young & Rubicam in 1967, every year we have a reunion. I'm here to tell you, they are all seriously badass. Who said just because we have a chronologically aging body, our creative minds and abilities as contributors, just stop?
Until the advertising industry, has the courage to create an agency with only, the original Mad Men and Mad Women, with the entry level is 60, maybe even 65, I won't rest. We have all these years of experience, even if we weren't paying attention, we know how to solve problems, we can do it faster and right the first time, we know how to collaborate, we know how to chill, we've been there, done that, AND a bag of chips.
I mean who better to communicate with us ... than us?
"Talkin 'Bout My Generation"
The big 'they' are going to have to listen to us, there are 79 million over the age of 65 now, and 10,000 a day turning 65 for the next 19 years!
I'm a War Baby. My generation broke all the rules, we refused to be our parents, until we were, we made love not war, we raised eyebrows and hemlines, we changed the world, we didn't trust anybody over 30, then life began at 40, the 50 is the new 40 ... we kept moving the goal posts, why should we stop now?
We invented drugs, sex AND rock and roll. You're welcome.
Some 200,000 of us showed up to hear Dr King's dream for us, without a Facebook event page, half a million found their way to Max Yazger's farm ... without Google maps.
I was a telephone operator when you plugged a cord into a board with a light and a hostess at the Bell Exhibit at Disneyland with they had a picture phone ... in 1963.
I was a producer before the Internet, in mini skirts and hot pants, a phone with a curly knotted cord, a silver Tiffany phone dialer, yellow legal pad, and lots of chutzpah.
We went from iceboxes to iPhones in the blink of an 'i'. Can you imagine what we can do with hashtags and an APP?
We're going to need the entrepreneurs to come up with new models to put us back to work, to utilize all our prodigious skills, and if you don't want us in your office, as an inconvenient reminder, you're going to get old too ... we know how to use the Internet.
"When I Paint My Masterpiece"
Grandma Moses didn't start painting till she was 60 and made masterpieces well into her 90s. My greatest masterpieces have yet to be created.
It has to be the synergy between the young and the wise, instead of the Golden Years, we need to make these the Exploding Years. But we're going to need to change the pejorative language. Let's start with the cringe worthy, 'Senior Citizen'.
In 1938 when the Social Security Act was created, retirement age was 65, and most people didn't live much past that. But today, at 65, we're still trying to figure out what we want to be when we grow up.
Our arsenals are bursting with experience, wisdom and powerful voices. Not to mention wallets that contribute nearly $1.3 trillion annually to the U.S. economy. This should be a wake-up call to every American who's ever been called elderly, old fart, over the hill, long in the tooth, of a certain age.
We work harder with greater economy, and have more resources and problem solving skills, so why are we told, "You're too experienced" or, my favorite, "We can't afford you"... how the hell do you know if you don't ask?
That's just code for, we're never going to hire you, as a matter of fact, we're not even going to let you show us what you got.
That's your problem, not mine.
For the record, I'm better than I've ever been, and so are ALL my friends in this situation. I refuse to be thrown on the trash pile of irrelevance just because my birth year is off the scroll down chart and I'm one belly laugh away from a Depends.
I had a tooth pulled recently. It was a tough extraction, and I said to the dentist, "It's been in there for 71 years, it will not go without a fight."
And neither will I.
I'd be curious know if anybody over 60 ever got a job off of LinkedIn, or any of the job sites. My friends apply daily ... zilch. I have thousands of networking 'connections', hundreds of 'recommendations' for my life skills, and not ONE job offer.
We don't need jobs as CEO's or, Sr VP, Director of Broadcast Production, as I was, we just want to go back to work.
It's a terrible, sad, and dirty little secret, pretty bad for us women, but it's harder on the men. Depression sets in, isolation, substance abuse, unable to 'keep up appearances', for those of us who were our business cards, ran companies, pulling down huge six figure jobs, it's devastating.
Fact is, we're all just one bad thing away. One divorce, one layoff, one, getting run over by an SUV, or in my case, all three.
And, if you're sidelined in the workplace for any reason, like some torturous game of Double Dutch, it's next to impossible to 'jump' back in.
It's a silent epidemic, so many qualified, brilliant, hilarious, 'elders', so much to teach, create, so much still to learn, yet they are struggling, living on Social Security, food stamps if their Social Security isn't too high to get them. Having to live with roommates like they did in college, just to make ends meet. The constant threat of losing their homes because, "the rent's too damned high".
I have to laugh, because you must, when a panhandler asks me for money these days, I mutter to myself, "I was just about to ask you".
When I lost my 40 year career, it was like Wylie E Coyote being chased off the cliff by the Roadrunner. I ran in thin air for about 10 years. Looking back, I don't know how I survived, but the truth is, there just wasn't room in my old life, for my new life. I had to clear the decks to make room for the next, and best, chapter.
In one of those great ironies of life, I had to lose what I thought was everything, to find out the thing that makes me happiest, and it's not lots of stuff. I used to think it was a closet full of Prada, but it's not, it's just a camera.
Many friends, at the first phone call, not returned, lop 10 or 20 years off their Wiki pages or resumes. They run to the dermatologist or plastic surgeon, desperately trying to 'pass' in a youth obsessed society.
Instead of fighting them I suggest we 'educate' them. I never lie about my age, I tell strangers, unsolicited ... I FLAUNT it!
I have a killer resume, written three books, I can produce rings around anybody, I've made thousands of 'award winning' short films, shot 10,000 hours. I have over four million YouTube views, 5,000 FB friends, 4,000 Twitter followers...
I can't get a job ... and I'm GOOD!
I'm just 71-years-old.
We have been responsible for so many changes in the world, we were the generation that was never going to get old, and we're doing a pretty good job, better if we can connect with our numbers, we can shift the world on its axis ... again.
I'm suggesting, nothing short of a revolution, a paradigm shift in the way we see each other, we have to start respecting older folks, and guess what, you might learn something, and teach something too.
Now that I know there are 79 million, or 40,000 million, who feel the same as I do, that's a good start, it's a rallying cry to every American over the age of 60 to throw down their walkers and take up arms. Marching orders for those of us who've been sold a bill of goods about aging.
We are a force to be reckoned with. We are a powder keg of bifocals and indignation just waiting for a spark.
The good news is, if you're reading this, you survived. So keep talking, keep kvetching, keep making them uncomfortable.
I met a young man recently, he was referring to his grandfather, "My betters" he said. I asked him what he meant, he said they weren't older they were better. I like that.
Please follow @SandiBachom on Twitter, and let me know how you're doing.