<You're How Old? We'll Be in Touch>

It might not seem that Hillary Clinton and Donald J. Trump have much in common. But they share something important with each other and with a whole lot of their fellow citizens. Both are job seekers. And at ages 68 and 70, respectively, they’re part of a large group of Americans who are radically upending the concept of retirement.

In 2016, almost 20 percent of Americans 65 and older are working. Some of them want to; many need to. The demise of traditional pensions means that many people have to keep earning in their 60s and 70s to maintain a decent standard of living.

These older people represent a vast well of productive and creative potential. Veteran workers can bring deep knowledge to the table, as well as well-honed interpersonal skills, better judgment than the less experienced and a more balanced perspective. They embody a natural resource that’s increasing: the social capital of millions of healthy, educated adults.

Why, then, are well over a million and a half Americans over 50, people with decades of life ahead of them, unable to find work? The underlying reason isn’t personal, it’s structural. It’s the result of a network of attitudes and institutional practices that we can no longer ignore.

The problem is ageism — discrimination on the basis of age. A dumb and destructive obsession with youth so extreme that experience has become a liability. In Silicon Valley, engineers are getting Botox and hair transplants before interviews — and these are skilled, educated, white guys in their 20s, so imagine the effect further down the food chain.

Age discrimination in employment is illegal, but two-thirds of older job seekers report encountering it. At 64, I’m fortunate not to have been one of them, as I work at the American Museum of Natural History, a truly all-age-friendly employer.

I write about ageism, though, so I hear stories all the time. The 51-year-old Uber driver taking me to Los Angeles International Airport at dawn a few weeks ago told me about a marketing position he thought he was eminently qualified for. He did his homework and nailed the interview. On his way out of the building he overheard, “Yeah, he’s perfect, but he’s too old.”

I’m lucky enough to get my tech support from JK Scheinberg, the engineer at Apple who led the effort that moved the Mac to Intel processors. A little restless after retiring in 2008, at 54, he figured he’d be a great fit for a position at an Apple store Genius Bar, despite being twice as old as anyone else at the group interview. “On the way out, all three of the interviewers singled me out and said, ‘We’ll be in touch,’ ” he said. “I never heard back.”

Recruiters say people with more than three years of work experience need not apply. Ads call for “digital natives,” as if playing video games as a kid is proof of competence. Résumés go unread, as Christina Economos, a science educator with more than 40 years of experience developing curriculum, has learned. “I don’t even get a reply — or they just say, ‘We’ve found someone more suited,’ ” she said. “I feel that my experience, skill set, work ethic, are being dismissed just because of my age. It’s really a blow, since I still feel like a vital human being.”

A 2016 study by the National Bureau of Economic Research found “robust” evidence that age discrimination in the workplace starts earlier for women and never relents. The pay gap kicks in early, at age 32, when women start getting passed over for promotion.

hone: 숫돌

social capital: 사회적 자본

ageism: 노인 차별, 고령자층 차별

discrimination: 차별

dumb: 바보같은

obsession: 집착

liability: 부채,

hair transplant: 모발 이식

food chain: 먹이 사슬

ESL POD 1240 

<Giving Correct Change>


Evelyn: If you want a job here as a cashier, you’ll need to be able to give correct change

Hank: Don’t you use a cash register here? 

Evelyn: We do, but when it’s not working, we have to be able to calculate change in our heads in a pinch

Hank: Oh, I didn’t realize that. 

Evelyn: Okay, let’s see how you do with a simple sale. Let’s say I’m purchasing these two items and I’m paying with a $20 bill. 

Hank: All right, give me a minute…the total is $9.36. 

Evelyn: Make sure you count back the change

Hank: I’ve never done that before. I’m not sure I know how. 

Evelyn: Count up starting with the coins and working your way up to the paper money. Count out loud so the customer gets a running total

Hank: Okay, but first I have to do the math. The change should be...Can I have a piece of paper to check my work? I don’t want to short the customer or give them too much change. 

Evelyn: You won’t have time to do that with each customer. Math wasn’t your favorite subject in school, was it? 

Hank: You’re right about that. Maybe I need to work on my math skills. In the meantime, I’m handy with a mop

Evelyn: Good to hear. There’s a cleanup on aisle three that’s got your name all over it


cash register: 금전 등록기

in a pinch: 비상시에는, 만일의 경우에는

handy: 유용한, 편리한

cleanup: 청소

aisle: 통로