I'm on unemployment benefits for the first time in my life, and I am competing with "kids" half my age for an unbelievably small number of jobs here in recession central -- the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. What is it like for a 59-year old to interview for jobs in this economy?
The experience is difficult to describe because -- in many cases -- it requires noting the shadows that pass over the faces of youngsters interviewing me, the sudden coolness in the air when they note the white hair, and even the delicately dismissive demeanor adopted by those old enough and professional enough not to scowl and glance side-long at each other when they finally notice that my work history spans more than 40 years...
The fear is always there -- that they see -- not the years of valuable experience, not the years of training and skill-building, and not the years of loyal service -- but just the years...
Though passionate, active, and bold,
And just fifty-nine winters old;
The snow on my roof,
Seemed absolute proof,
The furnace downstairs had gone cold.
So, after I danced till I bled,
And all the right answers were said,
I still felt I must,
Shed layers of rust,
And struggled to prove I'm not dead...