Another story of unemployment through the eyes of a 58 year old...

Finding yourself unemployed whether male or female at this age can be a world wind of emotions, fear and uncertain times. Being as my generation should be retiring at this age we find ourselves empty alone and searching for a reason to get up in the morning. Facing weight gain, gray hair,wrinkles and not enjoying the reruns on TV. Children if you're lucky enough to have any really don't need you anymore and are too busy trying to find their place in the world.

Getting up in the morning isn't the hard part. I seem to think I'm the only one who is capable of waking each and every bird. So I sit outside on a patio I don't own in a condo I'm going to have to leave and wait for the sunrise, drinking coffee I shouldn't have in jogging pants so old they should be in a museum.

Filling out application after application which most managers will never read nor even open... Going on interviews and watching the facial expression on those 21 year old faces as I walk into the room just wanting a chance to try out for a job for $12/hr knowing that will never be enough to pay all he monthly bills... but wanting to do what is necessary to survive.

For all the unknown faces you see at the unemployment board there are hundreds more you do not see and will never meet, For all the baby boomers over 50 hunting for just a job to feel human, needed, wanted -- I can understand you. I know you. I am you.

We are the generation who took home economics and drafting in school. We are those who knew our milkman and iceman, the man who sharpened our kitchen knives for $1.00 right there at the curb on his stone wheel,neighborhood stores that allowed $25 credit for food needed 'til the next paycheck. That's right I remember when borrowing a cup of sugar from a neighbor who you cared about and knew.

We count too. We mean something to someone. We are willing to learn. We need jobs to keep us going. Even though we may only have a high school diploma, we will be there every day without being late. We will not be taking days off for little things as a fight with boyfriends-girlfriends or drinking binges. We will not use our cell phones during work or IPod wonders scanning the web for dates nor shopping on line. We just need a chance to fit in. We need that job, and we can do it.


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chuck's picture

I felt really sorry for you until....

... you said that you wouldn't be online shopping or scanning the hook-up sites for dates during work hours. What kind of employee are you!

(Just kiddin', of course...)

Why is there no work for people who want to work? It makes no sense in a world where so much needs to be done.

When life hands you sh*t, make fertilizer.

powerful description

You've written a powerful description of the dilema so many are facing. Have you considered making that a cover letter to go with your resume?!!
I really like the way you've worded this. Maybe we should all start submitting letters in this fashion to newspapers and news shows. Maybe that would draw more attention to the wide range of emotional and financial uncertainty we are facing. Those who enjoy bashing the unemployed could use something to open their eyes and minds.
I'm sure there is more uncertainty at your age. I've already moved my family once, hoping to find a job market. One less saturated with the unemployed, and to have lower rent/cost of living. The market sucks here too. Rent is due on the 1st, I don't have it. So I too am wondering how long before I have to move again.
Best wishes to you.

Surviving Unemployment

That first post reflects the life we of the same age had in England...especially the cup of sugar borrowed over the back fence...Britain and America are very similar these days!...Over here though us "baby boomers" get to be put on a sort of pension to cover us from about 60 to retirement at 65...Then we no longer count as unemployed, do not "sign on" at the Dole Office and by magic a million or two get wiped off the unemployed total every year...But the we get other deals such as having the rent for your apartment paid, local taxes, paid, social security taxes credited, free 'bus travel all over England at age 60 or so.. But the USA does not go in for this form of socialism...(Yet!)

freckles in CT's picture

I am you

I hear you - I am 57 years old - they only laid off people over 50. It made me feel like garbage. I wanted to know when it happened - when did I turn from valuable to invaluable? Hang in there. Your story was written very well - I felt every word in my heart.

earlymusicus's picture

I Hear You

I, too, am 58 and am running smack into the insurmountable wall of age discrimination. I was laid off in October 2007 when the economy tanked because our company didnt' get any more work contracts and my boss didn't have enough work to keep me on. She cried at having to lay me off. I have a solid work record, have worked since high school. I've always gotten excellent performance reviews, always done the best I could do on any job I ever had. I was dependable and showed up for work each and every day. I have decades of clerical and data entry experience. After spending several months after layoff applying for clerical jobs, I decided I needed to go back to school for new training. Unemployed people were advised to get some kind of training in the medical field. I researched different allied health programs. I needed something I could finish in a year, because I only had a certain amount in my IRA to draw on to pay for classes. After talking to many people, the national organization, and program director, I decided on medical transcription. I'd done a little of that on a previous secretarial job and liked it. At the time I started my new training, there will still lots of good jobs in the field. As I entered my second year of my one-year program (it takes two years to finish the program due to the way the school schedules the required courses), I saw fewer and fewer job postings. Now? Nearly all the transcription work is being sent to India and the Philippines. The few transcription job postings want anywhere from 3-7 years of experience. There are several private medical transcription service organizations, but working for them is sweatshop, slave-labor wage jobs. They may send you a little work - you may make $17 a week, then the next week, nothing. It's not steady work with a steady income you can count on. So here I am: having worked all my life, having gotten new training that is now useless, I've always paid my taxes and my bills in full and on time, I've done what is right. This is the only time I've ever needed help. And this is my reward for being good productive citizen: benefits exhausted, being called lazy and spoiled by politicians and psycho-talkers on the radio and tv, being told that I'd rather stay at home and live a lavish (hah)lifestyle on unemployment benefits rather than get a job. I've applied for hundreds and hundreds of jobs but because of my age (which, even though I changed dates on my resume and did not include jobs from way back, employers can still figure out), I'm considered worthless. As to the psycho-talkers and their "unemployed people want to stay at home, living a lavish lifestyle" cr@p, on my last job, I made $16 an hour and grossed $640 a week. On unemployment, I was getting $291 a week. Do they honestly think I'd rather NOT be working??!! And now, I'm back to applying for clerical jobs with no luck. I'm a 99-er and getting no unemployment now. I have enough in a 2nd IRA to see me through for another 10 months. After that, I turn the house and car over to the credit union and live out of my backpack. And I feel like no one in Washington is listening or even cares.

Kathy Handyside

chuck's picture

For what it's worth...

... I'm listening, and I care. Problem is, nobody in Washington listens to me any more than they listen to you.

Your story is so frustrating. It's hard to believe that once upon a time not so long ago we lived in a country where working hard all your life meant that you could enjoy a somewhat dignified retirement. Retirement -- can you imagine that! Now we're lucky to keep a roof over our heads.

Where is the outrage? How do we make more noise on these issues?

When life hands you sh*t, make fertilizer.

freckles in CT's picture

Outsourcing Our Work

"Nearly all the transcription work is being sent to India and the Philippines."

How long is this going to go on? This is crazy... we Americans don't care about each other anymore. The only thing that matters is the almighty dollar... I have a friend who works for Apria Healthcare - they outsourced all of their billing to India. United Healthcare outsourced its Customer Service to India. When is this going to stop? Why don't our representatives see this and try to do something about it? Probably because their jobs aren't being outsourced to India or another country - maybe they should be.


Freckles, I worked for United Healthcare for 6 years, and saw firsthand the jobs migrate overseas. And in their wake came the layoffs, myself included. A small number of jobs, mostly provider relations jobs, were eventually brought back, but only after the medical providers raised holy hell. And all of this came after UHC swallowed up MAMSI. It's all about corporate greed, in this case. If you go to jobvent.com, you can read thru the pages and pages of employee comments about UHC and a lot of other companies.

You're right - we've become a culture of "Me first, where's mine?" Very sad.

chuck's picture

one way to throw a little wrench in the works

I try to pay my bills by mail because I know that if I'm mailing it to Maryland, somebody in Maryland is opening the envelope and processing the payment. Yeah, it costs me a stamp, but it's worth it to know that I'm helping somebody keep their job -- and costing the Man a little money.

When life hands you sh*t, make fertilizer.

freckles in CT's picture

Good point!

I will do this too. Also BOA stopped sending my bank statement by paper - they went directly to online - but then sent out a ton of mailings for their products. You see the money they saved by not sending our statement they used for advertising their products. I sent every one back in their postage paid envelope with a big note saying please stop sending me all of your advertisements. I figured if they were cheap enough to stop sending our statements then they should pay the postage due every time I returned a postage paid envelope to them. I got all my family and friends to do the same thing. Get a postage paid envelope for a product you don’t' want? Send it back saying no thank you and make them pay the postage.

Ms Nomer's picture

Maybe we should all pack up

Maybe we should all pack up and move to India. The job market is apparently booming over there!

chuck's picture

I have actually considered it

I know people who have done that and live pretty well.

When life hands you sh*t, make fertilizer.

Ms Nomer's picture

I was only halfway kidding!

I was only halfway kidding! It makes sense to me - so many American jobs have gone there, the supply seems to be endless. Not to mention the cost of living is dirt cheap...

Sidenote - has anyone seen the previews for an upcoming sitcom on NBC about this very thing? Talk about timely.

martykate's picture


I used to do billing at Apria Healthcare (I only stayed six months) from late '99 to May 2000. I never did think much of those people, they are rabidly anti-union and now IU can see why!

If you think you can't do it you may be right

58 and Looking

I'm not sure what field you're in but you sum up your situation very well. While I definitely would not put that in your cover letter, there has got to be way to use your writing skills to help your job search. Have you considered trying your hand at freelance writing or blogging?

Find your job today using the best job search websites.

unemployed at 59

1 year ago I was laid off from the job that I was going to retire from. I still haven't found the illusive job because as you say they see the weight gain and the gray hair and wrinkles, sagging skin and they do not hire you, even though you have the most experience of anyone for that particular position and you are willing to take a substantial cut in pay!! Yes, I agree! Employers should be accountable for their actions but as it stands right now they can turn us down as long as they don't discriminate to our faces.

freckles in CT's picture

Research about getting a job when you are over 50

I hear you. I am 57. I did a lot of research about the odds of getting a job when you are unemployed and over 50. My findings were quite daunting. But there is hope. I found these articles quite fascinating and interesting. They may be helpful for you too.

Good Luck

Will gray hair black out employment opportunities?

Will a face lift help you get a job?

Want a Job? Get a Facelift!

One more time

Work and self-esteem go hand-in-hand. Life is indeed a golden road to the abyss,

a long empty road leading to a world that becomes smaller and smaller as we get closer and closer to that rocking chair.

Our life was full of early morning rush to the bathroom, coffee brewing,lunch making, day planning. We counted in this everyday growing family.

Now after all those years of hard work our once loud,large home has become silent. After downsizing to keep the fuzz bunnies from over taking every corner, giving away stuff that may have meant something so long ago, pictures turning yellow, and emptying out closets that were over filled with sizes you will never ever fit into again nor would we want to... what were we thinking back then?

Unable to find a job where gray hair is taboo and wrinkles may be to contagious to take the risk, and those fluffy hips... "Oh no, you will not find a job here" those looks are saying.

"Back when" seems to be in every sentence coming out of our mouths and stories about when, where and how does not make for great talk at the water cooler.

But we remember the old black dial phones, the party lines, the rides at River-view.

We are you in coming years, we are our parents now but don't know when this happened.

Where did the American Dream go? Where did the path to Golden years disappear to poverty and loneliness? When did age 50 became the new leprosy?

chuck's picture

Poetic and sad

... stories about when, where and how does not make for great talk at the water cooler.

Yeah, but talk about the latest moronic reality show or assclown American Idol "talent" does make good conversation.

So sad that we don't want to listen to those stories. They're so much more interesting than the crap on TV.

Experience used to count for something.

When life hands you sh*t, make fertilizer.


Wow, that was gorgeous. I think your writing points to something fundamentally wrong with the world (or at least the US) these days. Namely, no one cares about quality anymore. Everything is built to be cheap and disposable. Including, it seems, us.

I thought friends and family

I thought friends and family would be supportive in our struggle but no one cares. They all change the subject or have stopped calling or inviting us altogether. Never asked anyone for a penny but maybe that's what they are afraid of as they go about their daily lives remodeling their houses and taking their vacations. It's very lonely and isolating. Strangers are more compassionate. Soo sad that this is what are society has become: Every man for himself.

chuck's picture

Have you reached out to them?

You say they've stopped calling and inviting you -- are you calling them?

Loneliness and isolation are the default conditions in our society, even for the gainfully employed. Get out there and make friends. You'll be OK.

When life hands you sh*t, make fertilizer.


It is just that they are busy doing life. I remember just recently having a good friend tell me that she thought I was pissed at her just because I received a time relevant text message and did not reply because it was a day late and on my way to an out of town interview. I calmly explain that I was not pissed just really busy and figured a response a day and half late would just me ridicules. So it does happen. So reach out to them because they may just be busy or trying to give time without pressure to find a job. Some on here a few months ago mentioned that they were sick of getting the Question "Have you found a job yet" as an opener to every conversation with their employed friends. So your family and friends may just not be reaching out because they are waiting for you to start the conversation and are welling to go from their.

But if everything I said above turns out to be false then you can always count on us at survive unemployment to be their for you. Eventhough Chuck is not one of the lucky ones with a real job he still is here and writing. Hang in there.


Laid Off At 58

We must always remind ourselves that things in life, good and bad, happen for a reason. What is the reason I no longer have my high paying, stressful, non-helping people job anymore, is not only due to the economy, but it is also time to change my path in life.

You may not feel you are strong enough to get through it but you will gain strength in ideas; for example, creating a unique resume; getting into an exercise routine at home or with a group sponsored by your township to help shed some added pounds; join a Meetup group of your interest. There a Meetup groups even for unemployed people.

You need to stay as youthful and healthy as possible in order to get back in the working world and to stay there until you can retire. If I need to get a more youthful appearance including hair style, line removal and a few more stylish outfits when I go for my interviews, then so be it! I will not let the way of the world today stop me forever on my road through life.

Laid off at 56

Oh no. I'm reading these posts from the summer of 2010 and nothing has changed......... It's now getting to the end of 2011. I have the same story all of you have. Laid off, lost my home, moved in with daughter and her family, (it's only by the grace of God we're still speaking to each other), unemployment is a thing of the past. My main concern is my medication. I'm not eligible for health insurance through the state until I haven't had health insurance coverage from an employer for a year. It is a mess! Well, thanks for listening. I hope the best for each and every one of you!

Resume?....don't bother.

Resumes are a complete waste of time. I've sent out hundreds. When you reply on line to jobs like careerbuilder, they probably receive thousands of reply's because a lot of people, especially kids in their 20's just auto-reply to every job listed, so, it's doubtful if anyone even reads them. The internet is the worst place to apply for a job because nobody reads them and if you do get called, it's usually for a job that they hire illegals for (which is another reason for the problem but I won't get into that). There is only a couple answers for people over 50 who have lost their job. One is to find another person or persons who are your age and in your field and pool your resources and join up together to start up a business. Another is to start an employment agency for people over 50. And another is to dump AARP and start a legitimate organization for seniors instead of one that caters to the rich investors and brokers like AARP. I want to ask everyone what has AARP ever done for the average guy over 50, except ask him for money for insurance sponsored by top dogs at AARP? We need a real organization for people over 50 that has the guts to stand up to Washington and get something done about age discrimination and out sourcing in this country. Then, maybe America would somewhat resemble what it used to be....a European nation founded by Europeans who speak english and don't have names like Abdullah, or Fidel.

chuck's picture

I feel for you, but...

... the racist undertone bugs me. We are not a European nation. We are a nation of immigrants. Read your history and you'll see that places like Boston were very multicultural and "colorful" even 300 years ago.

When life hands you sh*t, make fertilizer.

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