Wrinkled Workers.

There is much fussing and blustering in the Daily Outrage over the finding that the UK workforce is largely made up of the over-50s. I am one of them. The commenters are mostly right in their assessment of the reasons behind this.

Employers don’t want employees (especially at my current level, ‘second assistant underling’ and below), who have an overdeveloped sense of entitlement. Schools currently develop that particular sense to the detriment of the common kind. Kids are taught that they are too important to do the menial stuff but the menial stuff is the entry level to every kind of work. Whatever workplace you join, the new guy is going to get all the jobs nobody else wants, until another new guy arrives.

You cannot start in a new field and get straight in as the manager. I tried. I have all the qualifications you can get. I have managed research staff, teaching staff, run HND, B.Sc, M.Sc and PhD courses and students. I have controlled large budgets and had to cope with stock control (microbial growth media and many analytical chemicals have a limited shelf life). I have taught courses on food safety, on cleaning and disinfection and more. So you’d think moving into food retail would be easy, right?


Two big problems. At interview, I was shown the stockroom. It’s not like the lab stockrooms I’m used to. It’s a shambles back there. I had no idea what I was looking at and it showed. The other problem was customers. I had not interacted, at work, with anyone below the level required to get an HND. These were students, which you could argue are customers of a sort, but they are customers who expect to be told what to do and who expect to learn something. Shop customers do not expect any such thing. Also, some of those customers seem barely aware of the world around them and dealing with them has required the development of tact – an alien concept and one which is proving difficult to master.

The sensible thing to do was to start at the shitty end of the scale, watch and learn and see how the stockroom functions, how the shop operates and how the managers work. Then, six months down the line, try the manager jobs again. Still looking to earn no more than I need, but with fewer hours and actual holidays!

It sounds like a big jump but I’ve done the management part. I just needed to learn how it applied in a non-science environment. Naturally, I’d be looking at manager jobs in a different shop. In this one, it would be difficult to shake the staff’s conception of me as ‘the jannie’. I think ‘assistant manager’ is as far as I’m interested in going. The main manager looks far too harassed all the time and he has nobody he can pass difficult customers on to.

Youngsters starting out would start at the same shitty end as me, work up to stockroom staff, maybe on to shop floor staff, up to supervisory and into management. It takes time and the starting wages are desperately bad. The hours can be social-life-destroying too. Shops are open at weekends and staff can’t turn up too hung over to work.

That’s just a matter of self-organisation. If I have to start early, I don’t have much to drink. If I have to start late, I don’t have more than I can clear from my head by noon. Full-on smoky-drinkies are only when I don’t have to work the next day (there have been few of these so far). I suppose I have an unfair advantage in that I’ve never really been very sociable…

There are other reasons for an ageing workforce. Pension raids by successive governments, a State pension that can barely feed a cat and you have to wait longer before you get it, savings rendered worthless by pitiful interest rates, ever-increasing fuel bills… it’s not hard to see why we oldies have to keep an income going. The Spites are of course out in the comments, although their number is declining –

Thats the trouble with the “baby boomers”, they won;t move over on anything and give the next generation a chance! – justmyopinion, Glasgow, United Kingdom, 3/2/2013 12:46

A chance to do what? Work, pay tax and complain that you’re paying our pensions once you have removed us from our jobs? Get stuffed. Oh, and get a job. Hint: if the managing director retires, you won’t get his job straight away.

I have no problem with people working up to state pension age but to carry and deny a youngster a job is selfish.Many older workers have been stupid taking on mortgages that run way past pension age. Shame on all you fools. – bigowl, sheffield, 3/2/2013 13:13

Let’s see. A mortgage is for 25 years usually, State pension age was 65 but is increasing, I couldn’t afford a mortgage until I was 40, so I would have just made it. Stupid? Taking on a mortgage before I could afford it would have been stupid. Oh, and about eight years ago I was made redundant as a lecturer, researcher and consultant in food and intestinal microbiology. So there you go, school leavers. There’s a job opening for you. As for my current position, there was a youngster working alongside me who blew it. I didn’t deny her a job. She did.

And housing too. This greedy, selfish me-first generation are loaded while the kids struggle to make ends meet. Will go down as the most rotten generation in British history, the generation that bankrupted a nation and sold the nation’s silver to Asia for their own enrichment. – Dino the pleb, Grommet, Wallis And Futuna, 3/2/2013 13:14

Loaded? I’m breadline here. And what about housing? I’m paying for it, not you. I’ll have whatever house I damn well please and if I should decide to take the floor out of a spare bedroom so I can grow a tree in the living room then I damn well will.



I’m not surprised. Arrogant employers want experienced people so those looking to get in the job market have no chance. – Noodle Doodle, Noodle Town, 3/2/2013 12:52

(sigh) There is no ‘job market’. Jobs are not something you buy into unless you fall for the ‘work from home, won’t cost you much’ scams. Wanting experienced people is not arrogant, it’s common sense. Training people from scratch is expensive.

It’s why I can’t get in as a manager in retail and why I am now getting the experience they wanted while on minimum wage. That, dear boy, is how it works. Getting the experience is not necessarily a fun thing and it’s never a well paid thing. Not even in science. You have to get through the penury of the PhD before you get that first temporary job. The first one (usually more than one) is always temporary unless you hit it very lucky indeed. The PhD is the start. You still have to prove you can run a project of your own.

I have no retail experience. None at all. Never even had a paper round. I am also over 50 and horribly overqualified for everything outside the very narrow specialisation I trained for. Why am I even bothering to get into retail? Because I see a large quantity of brown stuff heading towards a massive whirly thing in the near future and when it hits, there’ll be no point selling CDs or toy trains. Nobody will want expensive consultants in areas of research many people already regard as witchcraft.

People will cut back to the bare essentials. Food and clothes. That’s the area to be working in, and not as a highly paid area manager either. Nor as an easily replaced shelf stacker. Somewhere close enough to the action to be essential but not too expensive to keep.

No experience? Get some. Somewhere nearby there is a job at the shitty end of the stick that nobody keeps for very long. Get that job when it becomes available – it will. Don’t think of it as ‘the job’, think of it as ‘gaining experience’ and stick with it for at least six months before looking around for the next phase of your plan. Don’t just coast it either – especially if it’s your first job, you need that good reference to move to the next stage. Work at it. Watch and learn how those at the higher-paid jobs work. Then move up and pass the shitty stick on to Noodle Doodle above, who sees that employers want experience but who can’t be bothered getting any.

The drones will call me ‘selfish’ and ‘motivated by pure self interest’ but let me ask them this – who the hell else is going to look after me?

The state? Should I rely on those liars, cheats and parasites? I think I’d be better off selling ashtrays for motorbikes, handbrakes for canoes, crochet swimsuits and papier-mache teapots. If I were to let the State take over my life, guess what? The exact same drones would label me ‘dole scrounger’ and object to paying for my pension…

There comes a point with these people where whatever you do, you can’t win. Where no choice is the right choice. There is only one sensible response to that situation. Do what the hell you like and ignore the whining.

So, drones, I am over 50, I have taken an entry-level job none of you idle bastards would even have applied for anyway, and I plan to move on from there so it will be available for you should you decide that getting some experience might be a good idea after all.

Call me selfish, give me disapproving looks and hard stares if you want. I’ve been getting those since I was three and they still have no effect. If looking after myself and not relying on the State to look after me is selfish then yes. I am. I am an over-fifty still in work – in fact, back in work after a couple of years of ruination. I have the sort of job a school leaver would have taken, back in the days before they all expected to get an O level and become Prime Monster.

Selfish. And damn proud of it.



18 thoughts on “Wrinkled Workers.

  1. ” I think ‘assistant manager’ is as far as I’m interested in going.”

    I have an amazingly smart and capable niece in her mid-20s who has stayed at that level deliberately for several years now … for much the same reasons as you outlined! LOL!

    – MJM


  2. There is a great interview of some young people at one of the sunny Mediterranean resorts. They say that they do all the things they do like drinking absurd amounts of alcohol, injuring themselves, being shagged or shagging copiously, throwing themselves off balconies etc. because their generation has it so bad.

    Oh really? I think not. Their generation has it differently, no better no worse.

    Best of they just got on with stuff instead of whinning. It’s not their fault really there is a huge industry out there telling them they are special and things are so very bad nowadays.



    • because their generation has it so bad.

      Oh really? I think not. Their generation has it differently, no better no worse.

      If they had it as “good” as generations even just a hundred years ago did, they’d have died of starvation. Because that’s what deliberately useless, able-bodied people did once the charities got sick of wasting resources on them.


  3. To be honest, things aren’t actually all that bad here. Most industries aren’t actually lethal or even all that dangerous to be in, mostly because as you say, training new workers is expensive. Workers in themselves are expensive too, so most simple fetch & carry jobs are automated or simply don’t exist. Minimum wage laws are the culprit here; work such as the basic stable-management in riding schools consists largely of shit-shovelling and hay-carrying to the extent that any barely sentient fool can do it; it ain’t worth minimum wage, however.

    The end-state for most of these clip-board carrying drones is, however, unemployment. This profusion of pettifogging rules is a Leftie thing; Labour Socialists seem to thrive upon reams of minor, silly rules but only manage to carry on like this because every so often, things get a clear-out. Right now, we’re overdue for a clear-out.

    We’ll get one though, the EU will see to that for us, along with that nice Mr Cameron (he of the voluminous yet meaningless speeches).

    All of this ultimately comes down to where a certain John Maynard Keynes was wrong. Keynes advocated a sort of national-scale “Make hay whilst the sun shines” philosophy whereby you pay down the national debt when things are going well, and use this credit when things ain’t going well. So far, a great idea. However, when things were not good, Keynes advocated big public work programmes to keep the economy ticking over, whilst whatever bad spot had caused recession was passed over.

    The problem with this is simple: big companies don’t pull a country out of recession. Big companies don’t grow very fast, if at all. Small companies do, and it is small companies (lots and lots of them) that pull countries out of recession. So, if you want to get out of recession, make life good for small businesses.

    Now, what is the EU really, really good at? That’s right, regulations, oodles and oodles of ’em! Shitloads of regulations make life almost impossible for small business, but hardly impact on big businesses. The net effect of the EU is to absolutely guarantee that when a country gets into recession, there it bloody well stays!

    There, Leggy, is your mass of brown stuff coming down the line to us. That’s the cause, and so enamoured of the cause are politicians that it’ll have to go bust before we get out of it. Which is a bit of a bugger, because the best years of my life will be spent waiting for political fuckwits to be forced to face reality.


    • Minimum wage laws are the culprit here; work such as the basic stable-management in riding schools consists largely of shit-shovelling and hay-carrying to the extent that any barely sentient fool can do it; it ain’t worth minimum wage, however.

      I was living in Ohio when the state bumped the minimum up to something like $7.50/hr. First reaction? Businesses stopped hiring kids with no experience. Second? Smaller, struggling businesses folded (there was also some expensive record-keeping attached to the minimum wage bump).

      Then they banned smoking in bars and restaurants, and I was out of a job – because the bar I worked for (owned by three combat vets, as icing on the cake) folded.


  4. The role of assistant manager must be different in retail than the pub trade where I worked for a few years.

    In the pubs, the assistant manager has the worst job of all, whereas a good manager can put their feet up for most of the time. A really good manager can even eat and drink for free.

    If you work your way up through the ranks of staff from lowly dishwasher or glass collector, the assistant manager position is the final and worst trial by fire.

    Once past that, you’ve hit the holy grail.

    I don’t get the problem that this generation seem to have with older folk. The meaning of ‘selfish’ seems to have been changed to mean that you don’t share out the things you have gained through the sweat of your brow.

    They’re all want, want, want without any of the stamina to get.


    • As I read Legiron’s bit about being selfish, my thoughts were, pretty much, that they see it as “You’re a selfish prick for not giving me what I want, right now, at your own expense.”

      The word tantrum comes to mind.


  5. XX I don’t get the problem that this generation seem to have. XX

    Considering we are getting told more or less multiple times daily, that there are ever fewer of the “younger generation”, I don’t get the fact that any one bothers listening to the bastards at ALL.


  6. As soon as someone trots out the “greedy baby boomers” bollocks, I switch off. After all, those very same baby boomers cared for and nurtured the current generation – paying for their expensive university courses and keeping them warm and fed, probably paying for things such as driving lessons and first car. And, likely as not, helped them get onto the property ladder with that first deposit. So, no, we do not owe them a thing. If we wish to carry on working, that’s our business – and if the little scrotes want to go through all of the training and experience I have, then, fine, they can set up in self-employment as I have and work in competition with me.


  7. Surely, LI, you should be at the point that you can ask for – nay, demand! – a higher wage as you are a Nobel prize-winner. Just hope that they do not realise that they, too, are also Nobel prize-winners.

    Or do you think that granting the Nobel peace prize to the EU was NOT actually meant to be for us, the mere proles? And if we are not at least part of the EU, then who is? And what part of it are we?


  8. My grandson did just that, deciding that university was not for him despite good A Levels he worked in MacDonalds for a year for a break and, once trained actually learned a lot. Last Year he went to college to study his love of drama with maybe a view to going to university next year. Meantime he worked part time in MacDonald to buy the things he wanted, a new moped and phone among others. He is now a trainer for MacDonalds and could go further if he wants to and if he does decide to go to university he will get a part time job at any MacDonalds. He is not keen on the shifts, this one is 24 hour opening, but he knows it is the only way to get on. They are not all thoughtless and selfish, like you I worked hard for everything I have and it was not easy most of the time and have helped out with children and grandchildren. If kids had a better attitude they might get on a lot better, we didn’t have a choice as going from school to a life on benefits was not then an option.


  9. Longrider said:
    “As soon as someone trots out the “greedy baby boomers” bollocks, I switch off. After all, those very same baby boomers cared for and nurtured the current generation – paying for their expensive university courses..”
    That’s true- they were mollycoddling them. Look what happened.

    I’m generation W – I only paid for the final two years of university. As I’d already graduated, these were subjects I thought might be useful in life – accountancy, economic and computing. They were.

    My parents granted me free board when I wished it, but I worked in a garage throughout university, including the gap year before I began (to build up a war chest). Luckily, I had the best parents in the world, so had I fallen on hard times, they would have been there. On the other hand, even though they could have afforded to just pay me a stipend, they didn’t. I can imagine some people resenting that.

    The violent effects of the Great Depression and WWII changed peoples’ perceptions about the role of the State. This was not limited to the UK, as is apparent.

    So I suppose that this may have leaked into the BB generation, that the State, with its aircraft carriers and ration books and victory bonds and demob housing was a good thing. The fact that a State started the shooting seems to have been conveniently overlooked. Also, that some States were handed over to other States who did things to them that would have warranted another Nuernburg was just lamentable.

    A chap from a school close to mine went to work for the Eeeevil American restaurant chain. He owned a house by the time he was 21.


  10. Just turned sixty myself and started a new job, in the next few weeks I plan on completing on my house which I am buying outright-no mortgage.
    Anyone wishing to complain how I owe them because of working 40 years myself can basically fuck right off.


  11. Pingback: Another Betteridge? | Longrider

  12. I may be missing something here, but if things are so ‘squeezed’ in the employment market, why is the government hell-bent on getting every mother of a child under 5 straight from the delivery room back into the workplace?


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