Letter: Too old to find work?

“Big city, turn me loose and set me free.”


I’d like to do what Merle Haggard lamented, but there’s no big city here. I just find myself out of a job and it seems impossible to find part-time work for a guy 65 years old.

I don’t feel old; I work out fairly regularly and used to run often.

Laid off from Savannah River Nuclear Solutions a few years back, I have worked teaching math at a learning center and have tutored off and on. My B.S. degree is in math and computer science; I worked in software for a number of years and also as a technical writer and newspaper reporter. I raised two sons, of both I am most proud.

I write this because last week was the final straw.

I had enrolled in the Senior Community Service Employment Program, which is supposed to help unemployed older Americans find work. It was administered in Aiken at Goodwill’s Job Shop.

I spent weeks attending sessions filling out reams of paperwork that wanted everything from my birth date to the location of my latest tattoo (including bank statements for six months).

Upon doing research, I found that this was overreach: the local SCSEP instructor was misinformed. He attempted to place me as a mentor for young kids at Big Brothers Big Sisters. I like helping children.

I reported for work but found the place closed. I left voicemails for the director and my Goodwill liaison. The next day I again found it closed and again reported this.

My Goodwill contact told me to meet him there. I arrived there to find him and the BBBS director, at which point the Goodwill guy told me I had arrived a half hour early for work.

Given the nature of the job interview – very casual and unstructured – and the fact that two weeks had passed, I evidently had gotten the start time off by a half hour, but it didn’t seem that this would be a big deal – easily correctable.

Instead, the Goodwill liaison berated me for my early arrival. I had been 40 minutes early the second day and made every effort to communicate to both him and the director. After his continued scolding, I threw up my hands and just quit. I am normally calm but this was too much. So I didn’t get a chance to work helping local children.

I’m eager to work. I have excellent job skills and I believe I’m personable but my age is preventing me from finding work.

Ernie Law

Aiken, S.C.



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