Letter to the Editor: What happened to the old grumps?

Stock image, St. George News

OPINION — Everybody talks about retirement like its El Dorado, a glorious goal to be reached as early as possible. Get rich and get out. Hey, I like the get rich part but as for getting out – no way. I’ve tried it several times and it just doesn’t work for me. I plan to keep paddling the canoe for as long as “the good Lord’s willin’ and the creeks don’t rise.”

My first attempt at retirement was a good example. It lasted just long enough for my wife to blurt out her first exasperated, “Would you please go find something to do!”  OK, I can take a hint. Besides, I’d spent too much time in the corporate pressure cooker to slow down. I was restless and wanted back in the game.

My wife had enjoyed considerable success in her small business, so I’m thinking – why not double the fun? We went on the prowl and found a struggling enterprise with an owner who wanted out. I was new to the business but learned fast and it turned out we were good at it. The business grew and prospered beyond our expectations and eventually another opportunity came along to “go fishing.”

The second time didn’t take either. Some say I write pretty well, so before long I was batting out a story here and an article there and peddling them to various editors with moderate success and doing some teaching on the side. This helped scratch my creative itch but it wasn’t doing much for my need to “look ‘em in the eye and give ‘em a firm handshake!” as Dad always told his five boys. It’s hard to look ‘em in the eye when you’re staring at a computer. I was getting restless again.

We live in the desert Southwest but our offspring are scattered around Washington and Idaho so it was in different places and at different times but they all said the same thing:  “Dad, you should sign up with a transportation network company – you’ll meet and talk to a lot of people and you can still do that other stuff you do.” Wait. A transportation what?

After they explained to me what a transportation network company is, and after mulling it over for a minute or two I’m thinking – why not? After all, when we went out for Chinese the other night didn’t my fortune cookie say, “Your place in life is in the drivers seat”? That did it. I signed up with both Uber and Lyft. I’m a communicator so I figured I could hold my own in most any conversation. Boy, was I in for a shock!

The surprises started piling up right away. I quickly learned just how far outside the corporate loop I had plummeted. The other day I asked a young rider about her work. She replied that she’s in “computer analytics.” Huh? She had chosen the back seat so she couldn’t see my blank look. I asked her what computer analytics involves and nodded knowingly as she explained. I didn’t have a clue. She might as well have been talking to me in Buryat.

A lot of my riders are young tech types. They’re in a whole different business world than I was in but I can’t help notice the buzzwords still fly. Some are old as dirt like “outside the box” and “move the needle.” We were using those when young Bill and Paul were still pondering what to name their little Albuquerque startup. Others such as “at the end of the day” and “reach out” should have been scrapped long ago. And then there are those that have me scrambling for Google – like “corporate synergy” and “modularity.” Say what?

And, just when did kids – a kid in my book is anybody not yet 25 – start having credit cards and hiring limos to get to their jobs at the fast food joint? Get outta here! They’re good kids but they mostly complain about overwork, underpay and how badly the boss treats ‘em . Call me retro but at that age I was overjoyed to have any job, anywhere and at any wage. And if we didn’t have the bus fare we walked.

Speaking of kids, what happened to all those old grumps who used to run our companies? The average age of the board members at the company where I worked was 60. The other day I met the board of directors from a tech outfit in San Jose. They were in town and needed a ride to a local golf course. None of ‘em looked old enough to vote.

Yes, tech stocks are sending world markets to new highs and their bottom lines are soaring. Whatever these kids are doing, they’re doing it right. So why do I get this uneasy, left-out feeling when people who look like my high school graduation picture settle in for a ride to the country club and casually announce that their CEO is visiting the White House? Could it be envy?

Retire? Heck no. I wouldn’t miss this for anything.

Submitted by ROBERT SEARS, St. George

Letters to the Editor are not the product of St. George News, its editors, staff or news contributors. The matters stated and opinions given are the responsibility of the person submitting them. They do not reflect the product or opinion of St. George News and are given only light edit for technical style and formatting.

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