Happy Motherf—–s’ Day?

To those of you who are still fortunate enough to have the presence of a mother in your life, whether it’s your actual mom, the mother of your children or someone who is a maternal figure who is present in your life, you have my respect and envy today.  And to those of you who fall into one or more of those categories yourself, Happy Mother’s Day.

In my case, I have no such connectivity.  This will be the 32nd year without my mom on this mortal coil, and I have no children or immediately available family to celebrate with.  Friends?  They’re “busy”.

And, honestly, after decades of trying to find some sort of peace or warm fuzzy memory of what life was like when I did have a mother to at least send a card to, with not even any pictures of here in digital form capable of being sharing beyond the one I previously have, I’m not even motivated to post something on social media that might elicit a caring emoji.  For me, it’s a grim reminder that my mom was sadly self-destructive enough to smoke, eat and stress her way into a far too early grave and how much she’s missed out on, both good and bad.

So perhaps I’m in a slightly more bitter and unforgiving mood that I might otherwise be, which anyone who knows me even a smidge knows isn’t all that tolerant to begin with.  51 months and counting of futilely searching for an actual job even remotely similar to the ones I earned my way into for decades can do that to you.

I’m consistently told by those who occasionally do show a hint of concern that I’m exceptionally qualified for job openings they see online, where my considerable skill sets are to them an obvious fit.  They eagerly forward links and offer encouragement.  But after more than 1200 of these have been acted upon, with more than 90 per cent of them resulting in absolutely no response whatsoever, I’ve begun to dread having to go through the motions yet again, especially when people who are well-intentioned do so without knowing the full depth of my journey.

I truly don’t fault any of you who are so well-intentioned.  You are simply doing what you can.  But when I actually ask the hard question–do you actually know anyone in any position of responsibility for actually hiring anyone at a company anywhere in the world these days who would respect your recommendation enough to even grant me an INTERVIEW, what I get, with almost baffling consistency, is at best “I wish I did”.  Somehow, I’ve defied my career and life expectancy curve enough to reach a point where I’m apparently disconnected enough with the hundreds of thousands of people who actually do make these decisions in a given day to be thoroughly dismissable and inconsequential.

And it is to those people–the HR gestapos, the middle management tiers of so many struggling companies, the remaining DEI enforcers who claim to be committed to building an “inclusive” culture–that I now turn my consternation and immense frustration to and ask–

What, REALLY, motivates you to even give someone the courtesy of consideration, let alone the CHANCE at being able to actually HELP your company be more successful?

Please don’t try and sweet-talk or word-salad your way out of this.  You can’t possibly tell me my track record, let alone my current aptitude of awareness of what are the challenges of the worlds of media, sports, politics and business in 2024, don’t at least merit the courtesy of an ACTUAL reply from an ACTUAL human being.  I have received more than enough “we’re not moving forward with your application” e-mails from addresses that can’t accept replies to be able to tell the difference between something written by a human and not.

I am far too aware of the benefits many companies receive, whether through direct compensation from organizations that reward the hiring of what they contend are margainalized constituencies or merely the optics of making such hires, from deciding not to hire a Caucasian, straight, non-Veteran male who has already had his 50th birthday.

And when I receive definitions of what a company like Disney considers to be reflective of “diverse perspectives”, such as the one that hit my LinkedIn inbox as I was writing this, my antennas go up and start making sounds like an aroused automaton.

Read the fine print:

Including, but not limited to, women, people of color, the LGTBQ community, various religious groups, military vets, people with disabilties, and others.

Would any of you experts on what you think qualifies someone for job consideration care to expound on exactly who or what is included in that dismissive “and others”?

And might any of you gatekeepers of consistently declining media companies like Disney (I read the earnings reports, do you?) be at all familiar with Becca Levy?

Well, let me save you the trouble of Googling, because I happen to have more than enough time on my still-functioning hands to do so.   The NEW YORK TIMES’ Paula Span profiled her a couple of years back:

Each fall, Becca Levy asks the students in her health and aging class at the Yale School of Public Health to picture an old person and share the first five words that come to mind. Don’t think too much, she tells them.

She writes their responses on the board. These include admiring words like “wisdom” and “creative” and roles such as “grandmother.” But “‘senility’ comes up a lot,” Dr. Levy said recently, “and a lot of physical infirmity and decline: ‘stooped over,’ ‘sick,’ ‘decrepit.’”

A psychologist and epidemiologist, Dr. Levy has demonstrated — in more than 140 published articles over 30 years and in a new book, “Breaking the Age Code” — that ageism results in more than hurt feelings or even discriminatory behavior. It affects physical and cognitive health and well-being in measurable ways and can take years off one’s life.

A March 2023 cover story by Kirsten Weir on the American Psychological Association website underscores Levy’s findings:

Ageism is defined as discrimination against older people because of negative and inaccurate stereotypes—and it’s so ingrained in our culture that we often don’t even notice. Most organizations now have diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) departments to tackle issues such as racism and gender bias. Even in those departments, age bias is seldom on the radar. “Ageism is this odd ‘-ism’ in that it’s still socially acceptable in many ways,” said Joann Montepare, PhD, director of the RoseMary B. Fuss Center for Research on Aging and Intergenerational Studies at Lasell University in Newton, Massachusetts, and past president of APA’s Division 20 (Adult Development and Aging).

And even the syrupy pop culture of what remains of PSYCHOLOGY TODAY attracted the attention of another Dr. Levy (Shari) at the tail end 2019 to triple down on this concept:

Is ageism really a thing? Isn’t it a sad fact that with age, everyone loses their memory, patience, utility, and worth and becomes increasingly more depressed, grumpy, helpless, ill, incompetent, lonely, stubborn, unattractive, and burdensome to society?” 

Those are not facts. Those are myths based on ageism—negative stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination toward the older end of the age continuum.

“Ageism is everywhere, yet it is the most socially ‘normalized’ of any prejudice and is not widely challenged—like racism or sexism” (World Health Organization).

“Normalized” refers to discriminatory employment practices that pass over highly qualified older workers for hire and promotions, that lay-off competent older workers at a higher rate than other workers, and that apply a mandatory retirement age to workers who are fully capable and who need and want to continue working.

Any of you who actually do decide who moves forward, let alone who gets hired, want to take a stab at any of those insights?

And you’ll simply have to allow that it’s moi that is putting your feet to the fire because, sheesh, you simply don’t know a damn person who has ever actually experienced what I’ve been able to do, and am currently in by far the best physical shape of my LIFE to continue to do so.

You also seem to somehow believe that a job opening at the levels you’re allowed to recruit for are somehow not beneath me.  When I say salary is “negotiable” I actually mean it.  You’re not legally allowed to ask my financial situation, and I’m loath to provide details.  But honestly–how DARE you assume what you think is “beneath me”?  Isn’t it up to ME, or anyone else considering your company, to decide that.

Here’s my non-starter:  Don’t even try to suggest any commission-only compensation is defensible.  Or any “program” where I would need to invest in “coaching” or “onboarding” services with out-of-pocket costs.  I’ve actually been a couple such interviews lately.  That’s free labor, you jerks.  You don’t work for free, and neither do I.

And for any of you who are behind the countless text bots and spam-filled Jobot, Indeed and similar job board listings that flood my inbox, again without actual knowledge of any human beings–for G-d’s sake, STOP IT.  Explain who are what is incentivizing you to perpetuate such scams.  What’s in it for you?  There’s clearly not a damn thing in it for me.

Finally, at least for now, to those of you I actually have met with me, in person or, confound it, still over Zoom, who have promised to “get back to me” with updates. Yes, those of you at the “marketing companies” who all somehow seem to be in bed with Verizon and AT&T.  Yes, you at the local TV stations that have openings for jobs I’ve performed at the highest levels of for decades.  Yes, even the supposedly caring and concerned job counselors to whom I was assigned to by government agencies.

Are your lives TRULY so busy, your schedules so backed up, your resources so depleted, that a simple follow-iup after two or three months of ghosting an absolute impossibility?!!

You seem to think you know much more than I do about all of this.  I defy any you to debate this openly.  You are more than likely afraid that you don’t, that you might be exposed as being perhaps not as competent as your diversity endorsers purported you to be and that people in charge of your livelihood might come to that conclusion.  If that’s not the case, then prove it.  At least write me privately.  51 months of this leads me to conclude that simple act of respect is HIGHLY unlikely.

Anyone who has successfully been part of top-tier management teams and been personally responsible for record profits in eras where companies actually made them merits at least a shred of your respect.  I don’t care how inexperienced or unaware you may be of your companies’ histories.  They wouldn’t have been in a position to hire any of you had it not been for the efforts of people like myself.   We deserve far better treatment than you even think of offering.  I know I CERTAINLY do.

So do try and understand on a day like this why my vitriol and exhaustion is heightened.  I’m spending this day as I do far too many others of late–alone, likely sobbing, scrutizing every single penny I have (and I truly don’t have many) to see if I can afford to do a wash and hoping against hope somehow the few well-wishers out there will at some point be proven justified in their waning support of my efforts to simply have a roof over my head.

And if nothing I offer up to you matters one iota at least take a nanosecond to ponder this:  What would YOUR mother say about how you treat people?

Until next time…

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