Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Positive Side ot Obsolescence

I was reading an article this morning in the USA Today about all the ageism problems in Silicon Valley. According to the article, while the median age of working Americans is 42, the median age over at Facebook is 29, at Google and Amazon it's 30, at Apple it's 31 and at Microsoft it's 33.  It might not surprise you to know that since 2008 150 of the top tech companies have been sued 226 times in age-related discrimination lawsuits.

In the article, there is a comparison  of modern employment opportunities for anyone over 30 to Logan's Run, a sci-fi movie about a futuristic society in which life ends at 30. That idea was underscored in 2007 when Mark Zuckerberg at 22 told an audience at Stanford University the "Younger people are just smarter...why are all chess masters under 30?"

WHOA!!! That surely wasn't the most intelligent thing to say and I have to assume he is even less intelligent today at 32 (according to his wisdom).

Why should I care, you ask?  What does it matter that Google or Microsoft muckity-mucks consider me to be a dinosaur? It's not that I was planning on job hunting anytime soon as I discussed in a previous post The Tough Questions.  I happen to be quite content with my current state of flux between unemployment and pseudo-retirement.   That pesky problem of not knowing which box to check on questionnaires as to my state of employment isn't going to be solved until survey creators add a box  marked "uninspired" or "unmotivated".

But still... articles like that one in USA Today make my aging brain think maybe I should be checking Consumer Reports on the "recommended" walker that I surely will need sooner rather than later. (Yes, for those of you keeping track, that is the same brain that has taken up swearing.)

As it happens, a lot of things have been cropping up lately to reinforce in a rather nasty way, that I am getting (or have gotten) old. I guess the verb tense would be dependent on my level of pragmatism any given day.

BUT there seems to be an upside to going over the hill.  Free or discounted stuff!  Yes, who knew that there was a financial boost to becoming old?  For the last couple of years there isn't a day that goes by,  that we don't get some offer in the mail, or some "unknown caller" type of phone call and even a random e-mail (or 6) offering us some type of product or service that makes promises to us that our golden years can be  blissful and worry free if we would only buy their product or service. AND if old age related bliss weren't enough.... through their extreme generosity they will provide us a complimentary meal. After which, we get to hear a spiel about the aforementioned bliss inducing product or service. No pressure...just like any other date where there is an expensive dinner involved.  (What?  Not even a kiss???)

All of this has me wondering, though.  How is it that all these companies know our ages?    Is there some mass mailing sent out by the Social Security dept.  that gives the name and phone number of every poor slob in America that is turning 62?  That surely is the case because there seems to be a lot of eager people trying to get my attention as of late. I have to assume it isn't my winning personality that is causing them to reach out to me.

DAILY..and I am not exaggerating here...I get offers of free dinners at local restaurants (for two) for coming in and learning more about estate planning, drawing social security, or learning more about my medicare options.  I find that very interesting  (ironically so) that while I seemingly can RSVP to eat my supper gratis at the Cheesecake Factory and learn all about Social Security...I can't actually make an appointment at the Social Security office.  They don't seem nearly as eager to share my company as ABC Financial Planners are.

While I haven't taken advantage of cashing in on any of these offers of free meals, theater tickets, or assorted "exclusive offers just for me!" enticements... I am considering my options. A good friend of mine and I have been talking about having a free evening out every week from here till death and calling it part of our retirement plan.  But, sadly as I am still very wishy-washy about if I am retired, unemployed or just pathetically lazy, I haven't started my free meal plan quite yet.

 I did however, come to the point after I turned 62 when I thought I might go in to talk to someone and ask some questions about when I might want to start drawing my social security.  After a 4 month wait, I did manage to get an appointment. Of course, that turned out to be a bit of a tricky situation because the man wanted to know if I was retired. Not that a person needs to be retired to draw their Social Security but you do have to limit your earnings. Again, the problem for me is explaining myself. When I say things like  "When you say "retired" do you mean "figuratively" or "literally?" That response just seems to confuse people. 

Anyhow...a year ago  hubby and I thought we would get a head start learning about our options for Medicare as hubby was approaching the time that he could unload his pricey individual medical insurance and take advantage of Medicare. While Medicare isn't free it's about 1/10th the cost of individual insurance. Kaching, Kaching!!  With this in mind, we  decided we would make an appointment to go in to ask about our future Medicare options.  But to our shock and awe.... NO APPOINTMENTS AVAILABLE...none....ever.

 When I mentioned this to a neighbor that is a couple of years older than me, she said she started a year in advance in setting up a face-to-face appointment as someone told her it's like planning a wedding.  If you want to book the venue (and in this case, I am talking about a chair in front of a Social Security clerk) you have to start early and be diligent. Since I had only allowed 4 months, I was SOL on actually securing my spot. Even my numerous tries calling into the 800 number to gain a coveted chair to talk to a real person were met with failure. They did mention numerous times that I could sign up online which is obviously the way to go.  It's not like you get a choice so there is that way .....or yeah...that way. Really, it's not difficult to sign up of Medicare online but gawd forbid if you aren't clear on the A,B, C, D,'s of it all.

I figure by the time I am actually eligible for Medicare, I will have it figured out.  How hard can it be?  

Again with the mail, phone calls and emails offering us free information. This time, however, there was an added element.  We started receiving envelopes and cards that looked "official". Mail started arriving in envelopes that appeared to come from the Federal Government with documents to fill out that looked amazingly "important".  Luckily for me, I have super powers. 

I also can read amazingly small print that says "this is not affiliated to the government"

So....while most days I feel like I am a 30ish year old caught up in an older body, I only have to go to my mailbox for a clear reminder that I won't ever get a chance to work in Silicon Valley....but at least my disappointment will be offset by a free meal at Outback while some Long Term Health Care specialist tells me how blissful my old age is going to be.

Still... I can only hope I live long enough for Zuckerberg to have to try to make an appointment to find out about his Medicare...or Mdca.

(Note to my Canadian, UK and any International readers...Hope I didn't lose you on the Social Security or Medicare discussion.  Do you have some bureaucratic equivalent that you need to take care of at retirement age?)

No comments: