Put Out to Pasture

Found this article about a TV personality that was laid off at 40 and thought that I would opine a bit about it. Here is the way that the article begins:
Dr. Sean Kenniff has had quite a colorful life. He was one of the five finalists on season 1 of the CBS show Survivor, a respected neurologist, and best known to South Florida viewers as our medical reporter at CBS4 News. Until, like so many caught up in the result of a bad economy, Dr. Sean was laid off.

"On my way home that day, driving with my termination papers and of course reevaluating your life, I saw the cows and for the first time I understood them," 40-year-old Sean told CBS4's Lisa Petrillo.

"They were fenced in and powerless over every aspect of their life. That's just how I felt. I'd been pastured, fenced in and powerless over the circumstances."
I have several friends out of work.. the economy is kicking our collective butts these days.
I can resonate a bit with my unemployed friends. I remember the feelings I had when I was laid off in my early 50s.. got pretty hard on me after a while.. after 15 months I found work again.. it was a good feeling to work again.. but the process was really tough on me.. after a while I really did feel like I was put out to pasture. This instruction for 50+ job-seekers from Monster.com, the job-search website, gets me thinking:
The sad truth is, says Osborne, "in our youth culture, it doesn't hurt to appear younger." That means updating your wardrobe and, if you're overweight, shedding those extra pounds.
An interesting comment.. makes me want to go all Just for Men and do my hair dark brown.. and maybe go out and buy some pants-on-the-ground trousers. Actually it makes me a bit sad to think that "looking young" is an asset for some employers. Gotta wonder if this is just an American phenomenon or if these kinds of attitudes exist in other non-western parts of the world - I once heard that Asian cultures esteem older folks.. wonder if it is true?

What do you think? Is ageism a problem in all industries or just with some employers?


  1. I dare not pat myself on the back....but as an employee when I was nearing retirement age, after 20 years in property management, my work ethics, putting in my "8" hrs and sometimes more, being to work on time taking the appropriate time for lunch....I didn't see this with the younger, dark haired, slim employees. The girl I trained to take my job was young, had a college degree, and came in at the salary I worked 20 years to get!!
    I think employers would be better off hiring us older more experienced workers. I probably sound bitter....I'm not I always felt God had me in that place for HIS purposes... Not my paycheck.

  2. @Wanda - I also saw a change in the younger workforce but I attributed it to the change in employer loyalty. When I started with AT&T in 1972 their was tremendous company and brand loyalty amongst employees. When I left almost 27 years later the company no longer solicited that kind of loyalty. Employee loyalty had been sadly traded for stock-holder bottom-lined outsourcing and insourcing of contract employees. And recently AT&T has been talking about cutting retiree benefits again.. sigh.

  3. Bob,
    One of my former coworkers had been laid off from AT&T or whatever the local affiliate was at the time. Somebody there thought it appropriate being a phone company, that everyone should be laid off over the phone. Cold. Really, cold.

    I'm a graphic designer and that an industry that's even more youth focused. I just lost a job opportunity because the CEO and COO were targeting 15 to 28 year olds. Even though these guys were in their late 30s they said they needed someone who could translate and speak to that demographic. Though they had tremendous respect for my skills, they didn't feel that I, being 55, could reach that demographic. I think they made the best decision for their company, but it would have been an interesting challenge. Oh well. And yes, I do need to update my wardrobe and lose some pounds. But then again, we've all seen how ridiculous people can sometimes look when they're wearing clothes that don't reflect their age. In fact, sometimes it's embarrassing at best and egregiously pathetic at worst.

    Yesterday the "REemployment Office" told me that my career for the past 25 years was "in decline." But the schools are still pumping out kids every year. That was a bit demoralizing.

    Oh well, today I had lunch with my manager from my employer before last. During our conversation it appeared that he was short-staffed at times. I knew that they could not hire me, so I asked if he'd be interested in using me as a flex-staffer. Part-time, as needed, no benefits, but higher salary to make up the difference. He really liked that idea and is going to present it to his boss.

    Sorry for rambling on so long, but you know that's normal for me.

  4. I wish that your story was the exception rather than the rule Gary. At least the execs were honest with you about it - most employers simply are not. Hope your next interview is a great one.


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