I have retired several times and each time I do this feeling of wouldn’t it be nice to have all this extra time to do anything you want. But I have found that because of the rigorous discipline that the construction imposes upon one, it becomes a work ethic and a habit from which it is very difficult to break. There is nothing wrong with a good work ethic,it means that you continue to feel that you have something real to give to ones fellow citizens. I continue feel that I have so many things that I still want to do before it is time to go.
I remember the first time I retired I awoke the next morning at 4:30am just as I have done for the last 30 years and go out of bed as usual and then I get dressed and had breakfast, read the newspaper and then I said to myself “now what?” It is a strange feeling. So then you start to busy yourself with things you have wanted to do forever but not had the time to do, and so your life takes a different path from where you have been. My wife and I visited the grand children in Canada and then returned home to pick up this very much slower pace of life. And you know what happened, I saw my health start to deteriorate and I was suddenly subject to ailments I did not know I had, when you have a regular job no matter how menial it might seem to be; it is really important because it gives one a purpose each day and that others besides your family are depending upon you to turn up for work to stand your corner. And I think that the very nature of going to work is what keeps your mind healthy and that in turn keeps your body healthy. Really very important because without your health your quality of life starts to slide.
So what did I do? I got a really great job that needed my attention and that job has made a fantastic difference to my life, I feel my old self again and really invigorated again. But achieving this goal was difficult because when people find you are over 65 the doors close very quickly. Not many people have any interest in even interviewing you, regardless of how impressive your résumé. The really sad part of this fact is that age creep has now been extended down to people 55 years. Should we not make an effort to keep these people in the work force (if they are physically able to carry out the work) to encourage good work habits and excellent work ethics? Or are we quite content to throw away all that talent just because a person is perceived to be too old? And it is not true that older workers are difficult to retrain, in fact when I was Director of a very large construction company I would give the benefit of the doubt to a more matured person for the very reason I have outlined above; they had a work ethic difficult to find in the “super-efficient” 20 something person, where I had to turn over several people to get the same result. This was not confined to administrative duties it was almost across the board. And I know that there are certain jobs that are best done by young people just out of College, because of rapidly moving technology and or the physical strength requirements. Therefore a healthy mix in the labor force is imperative.
These are a few of my thoughts this evening and I know not everyone will see my point of view. Because for gen-X it is seen as a right to something and not something you have to earn. You can’t put an old head on young shoulders. That is why you use the older part of the labor force to mentor the younger entrants.