I am not young and vibrant enough

Dear Older Person from Florida,

Judging from your letter to the Roodepoort Record, I must assume that you are gainfully employed and not facing the many issues that many of us in our late 40s upwards are facing.

Out of the very many interviews I have attended, the outcome has always (90 per cent) been that I am not ‘young or vibrant’ enough. My qualifications and experience are desired, very much, but it seems being young and vibrant is a prerequisite for the position.

Now I wonder what especially the ‘young’ means? Do I have too much employee contract knowledge at my age? Do I understand basic employment conditions? Do I at my at age understand Labour Law? Do I understand the Health and Safety Act? Do I know and understand the procedures of the CCMA? This being the ‘young’ side of things, I think my experience may not be in the interest of a prospective employer.

On the other side of ‘young’, I would be required to dye my hair, have breast augmentation (or wear a push-up bra where everything falls out), trade my knee-length skirt for a fanny pelmet, trade my safe, comfy shoes for neck-breaking stilettos, use special skin-firming creams, have a gym contract to stay slim and toned, wear special undergarments to hide my lumps and bumps, alter my ID to be younger and commit fraud, and all this to ‘change my focus’.

Apparently, if you are in my age group, no one cares what you know, what qualifications you have or how well you do your job, you are not ‘young and vibrant’ enough.

Maybe employers should ‘change their focus’ and realise that we elderly people won’t mess with our bread and butter, seeing as it took so long to get a job. We won’t book off sick because we had a rough night out. If we are sick, we are sick. We are not going on maternity leave either. We know to keep within the parameters of the law, especially if our jobs are on the line because we DO HAVE experience. We won’t lie or cheat or steal because most of us don’t have retirement planning.

We know what is expected and will strive to do what we can to the best of our ability because we have pride.

We won’t quit just because we are over-emotional or our mommies and daddies laid down the law, or we couldn’t get our own way.

We don’t need further training of any sort, we come from a generation where we adapt or die, which means we learn – and we learn fast. We are innovative and creative, which means we add value.

As for me not being ‘young and vibrant’, I decided to employ myself but a person like you will crucify me for making wire garden decor, saying that I am taking the income from previously disadvantaged persons, all because I have to ‘change my focus’ – are you and your friends going to support my endeavours in garden decor?

I think you are so full of yourself and your self-importance that you don’t really care about anyone else. Here is a challenge to you – why don’t you start an agency to get people in their later years employed and see what you come up against before you go shooting your mouth off.

  AUTHOR
Roelien Vorster

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