Monday, February 05, 2007

Senior Stereotypes Gone Mad? Fiction

Age Discrimination

I don’t know how Jack could fire me after forty years on the job. Budget cuts, he says. I’ll bet that’s his way of getting around the age discrimination laws. Maybe I need a lawyer.

Who’s going to run the office now? Not Jack; all he does is fiddle with his computer, talk on the phone, play golf, and go out for long lunches. That’s why he needs me. Turn my job over to that blond bimbo in the mini-skirts, skimpy shirts, and high-heeled sandals who sashays in late and leaves early every day? No way. This place needs me. Who is going to report on the bimbo every time she comes in late? The boss needs to know about such things.

I remember my first boss, Don. He always got here early. He was really on top of things. He loved my neatly-typed reports—even fired a few people on my advice. He had a dress code, too: dark suits for everybody. We all looked professional; I still do. I still love my suits and frilly blouses. No short skirts or sandals for me. No pants, either. Those are for men. These days, it seems that anything goes.

I might have quit earlier, except that I won’t be able to live very well on Social Security, and we get no pensions here. I never saved much. I know I won’t be able to afford my apartment without a job. I suppose I can move to that senior living center that keeps sending me brochures, but I can’t see myself in those "active seniors" pictures. I’ve always hated senior activities. That includes bridge and bingo. Besides, the people in those ads always look so old, and the senior apartments I’ve seen are so small.

Well, Jack says I have to clear out my office today. Office? It’s really just a cubicle. I’m the only one who still uses a typewriter. Computers are just too complicated, and the screens are hard to read. What’s wrong with typewriters anyway? My reports and schedules look just as good as those computer-printed ones.

Vince, my boss before Jack, tried to take away my typewriter and put a computer on my desk. Hah! After I complained and threatened to tell his wife about his affair with Betty, I had my typewriter back in less than a day.

It’s time to take down my pictures. Hmm—the frames look dusty. I’ll have to write a report on those cleaning people. I think they stole some candy out of the jar on my desk, too.

Now that I think about it, all the people in these pictures are dead: Mother, Father, my brother Jim, even my big white cat, Hercules. There’s my late husband, Sam, too. He wasn’t much good, but he sure looks handsome there. We didn’t stay married long. Sam said I was too bossy and pushed him too hard to get a job. Actually, he moved in with the blond down the hall. I haven’t told anyone here at the office about that. I just said that my husband died young. That’s true; they don’t need to know the rest. Anyway, I hope Jack adds my picture to the wall of retired employees over there in the conference room.

Look at these files! They’re perfect—nothing out of order. Forty years of reports and memos and schedules. I’ve always kept the cabinet locked. Now what do I do? Nobody keeps files like these any more. It’s all on computers now. Anyway, I’d better see if that old paper shredder under the desk still works. I haven’t used it much.

Wait! There’s Jack. Maybe he’s coming to tell me he’s changed his mind about firing me. He seems to change his mind a lot. No, there comes the bimbo, Jennifer or some name like that. Lunch time. He’s actually kissing her, right there in the outer office! They’re hugging and laughing on their way out the door. They don’t even notice that I’m still here.

Let’s see; what’s Jack’s wife’s phone number? I must have it somewhere. I’ll show him.

Copyright 2007 by Marlys Marshall Styne. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead is purely coincidental. The opinions expressed are not those of the author.


Cheryl said...

Marlys, I love your blog! This short story on seniors is right on the mark. I'm going to drop a link to it on my blog.

seniorwriter said...

Thanks! I love receiving people's comments. I hasten to add that while I'm a senior myself, I'm nothing like the narrator in that story, thankfully.