Remember When “Short List” Was A Good Thing?

I tripped over it again. The “A” word – or “O” word, depending on your higher aversion.

While networking at a board meeting the other night, I discovered someone else who’s running the same unemployment gauntlet as me. Lo and behold! He’s also on the ‘short list’ at the same temp agency I am. He has the added distinction, though, of also being told he’s ‘highlighted’. Maybe it’s an accounting thing. I don’t do accounting.

Although a third such ‘short lister’ could prove more conclusively my theory that “short list” is a euphemistic employment agency term for “older worker list”, I’m fairly confident there’s easily a third and perhaps dozens of my demographic on that list.

If it were about my fading abilities in the workplace, I’d put myself on that list and not be outraged by it. But the shelf life of my learning curve and occupational acumen is doing just fine, thank you. And if there are any doubts, someone hire me so I can demonstrate just how wrong it is to judge baby boomers as inadequate, untrainable and obsolete. As if!

Anybody catch the story about Chester Reed who retired in 2010? The 95-year old postal worker decided to finally call it quits and retire. Ninety-five and he got to decide when he quit. This is a man who accrued two years’ worth of unused sick days over his tenure at the post office, and increased his pay over the years from four dollars an hour to his final salary of twenty-five dollars an hour. There’s someone who’s worked for his full retirement. Wouldn’t it be nice if this were the standard the rest of us workers could count on?

Just a reminder to those who have come after us, I and others of my age range were moving technology forward in the workplace before there was even a degree available for having learned it all! That embued us with a certain “learn on the fly” capability that hasn’t gone away. So how does that kind of talent earn us early retirement and/or a shift in occupation to a physical job in retail or fast food? Maybe it’s just my aging brain cells, but a job requiring physical labor seems somewhat counterintuitive for older workers; yet that’s where many of us find ourselves just to stay employed.

I can’t speak for the other “short listers” but for myself, I don’t want any employer to ‘nice it up’. If an agency is going to discriminate or allow its customers to do it for them, just say ‘Hey, you’re on the old age list. Nothing we can do.” Legal issues aside, it beats being treated like a chump as if I’m buying the “short list” dodge when I’m as capable as ever and, in some tasks and/or technologies, even more capable (i.e. my self-designed web site at

Got a short list to put me on? Make it the ‘ornery’ one. I’ve more than earned it. But short listing me in the workplace? Just remember, guys. Someday it’ll be the turn of those who came after us to be on that same list – regardless of how well they still get the job done.

As for me, I’m looking for a real job with real administrators. If that’s not who I’m talking to, let me clarify myself: “NEXT!”


About kristisez

I am a writer/photographer with multiple projects and leanings. Most of my topics and content are generated from my own circumstances - either then or now. I love beauty, color and stories with heart, depth and spirit. These are the elements I attempt to include in all my work. Explore for yourself what I'm about when you read my blog.
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