More then any other age group, it seems as if Baby Boomers have linked their jobs to their identities and subsequently, their feelings of self-worth. I'm not even talking about the doctors, lawyers and action heroes in this age group, I'm talking about the sixty-eighty year old customer service rep sitting across the aisle from you in the call center. You know the guy, the two-pension-collecting multiple retiree who seems to have an inexplicable, masochistic desire to be screamed at by strangers.
If you ever get a chance to ask him why he's still slaving away at some crap job I'll wager that he says something like:
"Tarnation! It beats sittin' 'round at home watchin' Kojak. 'Sides, if you aint workin', you might as well be DEAD!"
And herein lies the crux of my point. Of all the current generations still chippin' away out there, it's the venerable Baby Boomers who still cling doggedly to the whole "JOY THROUGH LABOR" lie propagated by our corporate taskmasters. So, why is that?
In once sense I really can't slight them. After all, one of the first things we ask people upon meeting them is "So, what do you do for a living?" Unless you just bumped into that dude from the Dos Equis ads, 99.9% of the time the answer to that creatively bankrupt question is gonna be more boring then a Taylor Swift interview.
Personally I'd much rather learn about someone's creative talents. Or what book is currently getting them through their morning commute. Or their ideal travel destination. Or what television show they prefer to spazz out on. Or what their favorite childhood toy was. Answers to questions like this allow you to really peek into the window of the soul, as opposed to scrying the boring details of some obligatory task that most people feel obliged to perform just to prevent themselves from starving to death.
Well, at least the Baby Boomers believe that face-to-face interaction with real, bona fide, flesh and blood human beans is a mandatory catalyst for entertainment. This is important to me since I really do believe that technology is making us more and more socially retarded and physically disconnected from one another. Unlike people my age and younger, Boomers don't seem to mind the "pop in" and they actually seem kinda wistful that impromptu social calls don't happen anymore. These people seem to be at their happiest sitting around a kitchen table just havin' a yarn. The only conversation lubrication they require is a cup of tea and maybe a deck of cards if they're feeling particularly wacky.
This is in direct opposition to Generation X and onward. If I invite a bunch of my friends over to my place, invariably their next question is: "Okay, so what are we doing?" Beyond triggering feelings of conversational inadequacy, I can't help but think: 'Jesus, can't we just sit around and talk like civilized adults? Why does there always have to have a friggin' AGENDA, fer Crissakes?"
Our ability to find distraction everywhere is arguably our greatest talent, but for many Boomers, this just isn't an option. Since many of them eschew the bugbear of technology in lieu of a good old-fashioned chin-wag, Boomers seem notoriously difficult to entertain. A lot of them dismiss current movies and music as worthless. Hand them a video game controller and they recoil as if you're offering them a dead vole. Many of them are convinced that the the only decent analog games involve a crib board or wooden letter tiles. And although they tend to avoid cable networks like the plague, they still watch the bejesus out of network T.V., which I think may be the real leading cause of Alzheimer's and dementia.
Sorry, but if I thought that the shite peddled by the major television networks was my only valid entertainment source, I'd probably lose touch with reality pretty damned quick as well.
For the past three years I've had no boss to answer to, no schedule to adhere to and no performance appraisals to be threatened with. Because of this some people would liken my current existence to retirement and I think, to a certain extent, that this is a fair cop. But these same people also need to know that I haven't been bored for so much as one millisecond in the past three years. The most difficult challenge I've had to grapple with is a bout of temporary paralysis in the face of what fulfilling and awesome thing I want to do next.
Now, don't get me wrong, as a boss I'm a bit of an asshole. I definitely work longer and weirder hours then I ever have. I could be composing a blog entry here, volunteering for a good cause, crafting a movie review, recanting a session report, doing background work, editing travel footage, researching alternative news, hammering out the latest chapter in my next book, drawing some freaky picture, providing content for a friend's iPad ap, tapping out a short story, figuring out how to do a better podcast, filming a boardgame tutorial or creating a poem. There's no shortage of things to do, just the amount of time I have to cram it all in.
That's doubly true for my so-called "down time". During the summer I can flake out at the beach, take a nature hike, hop on my bike, go swimming, pitch a tent or biff a tennis ball around. Granted, my options are a bit more limited during the winter but I can still can catch a documentary on Netflix, play a solitaire boardgame to learn the rules, indulge in a Game of Thrones marathon, lure my unsuspecting friends into a Google + Hangout dungeon crawl, plan my latest road trip, get my ass beaten senseless by some Malaysian kid in an X-Box Live Halo match, bliss out to the tune of an iPod playlist, blast through several years worth of webcomics, listen to a gaming podcast or read one of a trillion different books.
Unfortunately, for many Baby Boomers, many of the pursuits that I've just cataloged are completely Greek to them. Except, of course, for Greek Baby Boomers in which case many of the pursuits I've just cataloged are Double Dutch.
But look, younger people don't have a monopoly on such diversions. Don't give up on pursuing new things. Or more precisely, don't give up trying to figure out how to do new things.
Now, do I think that every single person over the age of fifty adheres to the tenants I've described here? Hells to the no! There are plenty of tech-savvy, dialed-in, pony-tail-wearin', wireless-networkin', smart-phone gropin' seniors out there. I also know full well that the 2008 economic crash unfairly gutted many a senior's life savings and robbed them of their pensions, tragically forcing them to postpone their well-deserved retirements.
This post isn't directed at those people.
It's directed that all those selfish idiots who still labor under the misconception that society might degenerate into anarchy if you abdicate your pivotal role as a Wal-Mart greeter. It's directed at those cranky oldsters who linger around like entitled wraiths, surrounding themselves with co-workers they can barely tolerate just because they'll listen to how things were "so much better" back in "their day".
Please, please, I beg of you...just go home.
But first, swing by the store and pick yourself up a decent video game console.
Photo credit: http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/boomers-will-work-until-they-drop/2006/01/30/1138590443500.html
EPIC ADMISSION STRAIGHT FROM THE BOOMER'S MOUTH I'm so not motivated by money that this angle hadn't even occur to me.
EPIC SENTIMENT #1
EPIC SENTIMENT #2
AGEISM FAIL See, Boomers can be cool! And let's face it, ain't nobody gonna replace these guys when they retire...