essays

The Waiting Game

good eggsEven before the financial melt-down, boomers were thinking about ways to work longer, presumably to save for their retirement. Now that everyone's portfolio is in the dumper, even more boomers are opting to stay in the workforce. Some call it “recareering” or “encore careers,” but that was when it was a voluntary option. Now, the idea of working until you die at your desk has become an imperative.

All of this throws a mighty big wrench into the gears of the theory that as hordes of boomers retired there would be shortages of workers in critical industries or professions. It also pisses off the next generation of workers behind us who have been waiting patiently for us to beat it. If you think Gen X, Y, Z and whatever else they're calling themselves were mad at boomers before now, wait until they find out we just won't get out of the way.

If you're 60 years old and you have 40 year olds circling around you like buzzards, it may be time to look at a power sharing arrangement. You really can sympathize with both parties. The boomer needs to work until age 70 just to afford a decent retirement (and to try to rebuild their 401k or retirement account). The Gen Xer has paid her/his dues and is ready to take the reins. If you think about it, the potential for an ideal partnership is all there…boomers have experience and wisdom to contribute and waiting roomGen X has the energy and ambition to blaze new trails.

All that's needed now is a push from government and business, to not only recognize the problem, but to impose the power sharing arrangement. People throw around the term “win-win situation” very randomly, but in this instance, both boomers and Gen Xers really do stand to come out winners if they team up with each other.

The transition from one generation to the next is not going to happen as planned, so the real test is how we not only manage to react to this change and but capitalize on it as well. If you're an optimist (as I am), you have to think not only will this work, but it just might be the best thing that could happen to us. Intergenerational cooperation is good for all of us and possibly a great way for us to dig out of the economic hole we find ourselves in.

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.

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