Saturday, November 10, 2012


A little over a year ago, in anticipation of the major lifestyle change of retirement, I posted on my blog a piece titled, “Pre-retirement musings.” 

Here’s an excerpt:

When I’m retired no one is going to ask my opinion. And if I offer one, unsolicited, I’ll either be patronized or ignored. I mean, once you retire, you’re no longer “in the game.” Who cares what the retired guy thinks? He’s no longer got a vested interest.

I understood that point from observation over the years.  When someone retired from my place of employment, typically he (or she) would call or email periodically to update their work colleagues on whatever they were doing.  The attitude of the work colleagues was, again typically, a collective shrug of dismissal.
I determined that I would be different.  I would not show up at the office and expect my working friends to drop what they were doing, welcome me in, and chat for 30 minutes.  I would not phone them, and if I emailed them the focus would be on their lives and jobs, not mine.  And I wouldn’t expect a reply.  (Good thing!  I rarely send any of them an email (usually a copy of a comic strip that satirizes the working environment there – especially some Dilbert strips!), and never get a reply.)

But I’ve recently been seeing not-so-subtle indications of how broad-based the stereotype of “old retired guy = irrelevant” really is.  How?  Well, as anyone who has followed my blog knows, I enjoy expressing my opinion.  As an outworking of that enjoyment I participate in a number of online forums and opinion polling sites.  I mean, why not?  I have the time, and some of those sites offer rewards (like gift cards!) that I really use.  

So, what’s the trouble?  Well, many/most of the polls I complete ask “qualifying” questions at the beginning to identify the demographic of the respondent.  Often they’ll ask for zip code, annual income range, marital status, home ownership vs. rental, and so on.  But just about every poll also asks for age/birth year.  And many ask about employment status.

 If I am honest – indicate my real age and that I’m retired – I’m almost always re-directed to a “no thanks” screen and told to “try again another time.”

But if I then go back, take ten years off my real age and check the “employed full time” box, bingo!  I’m in.  My opinion is then considered valid.  I’m relevant!

I know – that’s cheating!  But the opinions I express are the same as the ones I had 10 years ago!  So am I really cheating?  Do most people’s opinions change in 10 years, once they pass 45 or so?

I'm guessing that most of the groups who write and sell these polls are people in their 20s and 30s.  To them, anyone over 50 is a dinosaur.  When I was 30 I probably felt the same way.  Okay, I DID feel the same way.

Add to that the fear of many younger workers that we baby boomers will suck dry all of their Social Security as we dodder off into oblivion.  No wonder they consider us irrelevant.  Most probably wish they could put us out on the ice floe and let us drift off to . . . wherever.

 Maybe I should dye my gray hair a darker color and lie about my age.  At least then I’d be considered relevant again! 

 That, or be considered even more senile than now. 

 What a choice.  No wonder many old people seniors act bitter!