So, here I sit all broken hearted – wishing that I’d never started. Started in Corporate America that is. To me, my tale is heartbreaking – because I’m not the only one who fell for the lie of the “good life”. You know…finish High School; go the College; get a job and climb that Corporate Ladder. Someone forgot to tell us when we get to the top of the ladder it’s all down hill from there. There are no more rungs on the ladder. If you go higher, you fall off. Or you do what most do…you go back down. Down, down, down – and your prospects and salary follows. Or worse yet. You find yourself unemployed and over 50. No where to go but up, right? Wrong.
Hey kids (those under 40), listen up. You might be smirking now, but mark my words, you will be over 50 very soon. It comes way faster than you could ever imagine. Right now you think you’ve got it made…and you do. For now. Don’t get cocky – everyone gets a turn at the age game. Us on the other side got caught blindsided and expendable.
Me? My position and salary booted me out of my job. A new corporate management and pay structure came in. I was WAY over the pay scale for the new structure. So far over, in fact, that they couldn’t (or wouldn’t) offer me a pay cut or demotion. Not only after I stewed for a few days (still in my pajama’s at 8:00 in the morning) did I realize that my pay would have been cut in half! Did they do me a favor letting me go? Did they think I would have a better change of gainful employment and pay elsewhere? Were they being noble? I think not! Anything to save a few bucks, right?
I’m not bitter (yes…I’m being sarcastic). I’ve been on both sides of the table. I get it. More work for less pay, it seems to be the new American way. New management was coming in and taking a salary pennies on my dollar and grateful for it. At least the job stayed here in the States, I guess. At least on-site managers need to be “on site”. Until that changes.
I don’t know, maybe it’s just me…but when the recession started in 2007, I’ve felt the “pinch and sting” of keeping myself employable. Sure, I was nervous. In 2007 I was 47 years old and future prospects of climbing the corporate ladder seemed dismal. But I prospered, I promoted. I was still employable.
But my husband was not convinced.
“Toots” he said. “You’re not getting any younger. I hope your job will hold out – what if you lose your job? How will you get another one when you’re in your 50’s or older?”
He had ever right to be concerned. He’s disabled and can’t work. He can’t support us. And he hates the predicament of it. He use to own a family business and lost it because of family in-fighting and deaths. When he found his self without a business AND disabled he was devastated. He had worked his whole life at a family business, and had no formal education.
So when I tell you, on that fateful day, I didn’t want to go home and tell hubby…”Well, you were right! Here I am”. Home. Early. I was home and the sun was still out for cripes sake (I wanted to use the F word – and I don’t mean Fifty). We relocated for this job. No friends here. No family. No job. Ain’t that a shitter?
But…I have a degree. Two of ’em! Yes, indeed. I’ll be just fine. We’ll be just fine. That’s what I was telling myself.
I dusted off my resume. I did research to update it and make it marketable. I made sure to use “new” words and not “dated” words. I took off the summary statement. I heard that was passé now. I outlined “key abilities” and made sure all the % increases of growth were in there. I highlighted my sales and metric focus. I made sure they knew I LOVE P&L. I can manage projects, people, paper…I shined light a bright star in all my phone interviews. I got second phone interviews and third phone interviews. Don’t people meet in person anymore?
THEN! Then! Face time!! I shined in my personal interviews. I have a cute haircut and I don’t look my age. I’m fit! My dress was sharp and stylish with a hint of trendy. I’ve been told I have a bright and infectious smile – I used it perfectly! But…nope. I could cover up the gray, but I couldn’t cover up the old wrinkling hands, and sagging neck. Crap! They never tell you it’s your age…YOU JUST FEEL IT. And it feels bad. Was I being sold out? The new mavericks are in town. They’re younger, faster and stronger. They’re fresh! Remember when you were that?
Then a light flashed somewhere very near. The lightbulb flickered, then stayed on. I had an idea! I’d recreate myself. Yes, sir. A new improved me. The world loves “new and improved”, new packaging, new and fun slants on marketing. The world loves “The Next New Thing”.
I dusted off the vintage me that was raised to “get a clerical job to have something to fall back on” to “I am woman, hear me roar”. I’m gonna pick my gonads up, tuck ’em back in a start my own business.
There. I’ve come just about full circle, but there is more to share. Just not today.
I don’t mean to bore you with all my private, sordid details, but then again – I kind of do. I want to make sure you don’t have blinders on about your future, or have your head buried in the sand. I don’t want you to get caught off guard, like I was. I figure it like this…right now you’re either going through the same thing I am – or you’re afraid that it could be right around the corner. Either way, it you don’t have a plan…it’s time to get one.
Is the future dismal? It doesn’t have to be. But, be selfish. Protect yourself and your dignity. Can you dig it? 🙂