Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Gen Xer waiting for the "mass" Retirement

I remember in the late nineties when it seemed as if everyone was spouting words of wisdom about how Generation X was going to take over the work force. With all the employment opportunities out there waiting for us as a result of the onset and much anticipated, mass baby boomer retirement.  Well it’s been 10 plus years and some of us Generation X’ers, a more educated and experienced work force than ever before, are still waiting for our moment.  Where is the mass retirement we have been hearing so much about?

A friend of mine works for a company that has a 72 year old employee.  This man is not someone who needs to work financially because his Canadian Pension Plan check is too small to live on; no this is a man who makes a decent five figure salary and has for 40 + years.  I recently attended an informational meeting for the Department of National Defence discussing the great career opportunities available for civilians in their department.  The presentation was excellent, and again telling the packed room that 60% of the civilian work force in DND and across the federal government is due to retire in the next few years.  When the presenter was asked if there was an age limit to working (i.e. a retirement age) at the Department of National Defence,  he said no, and he went on to add that he was eligible to retire two years ago, but he chose to continue working.   Is it just me, or have we been hearing the phrase “…will retire in the next five years” for a long time? 

Canadian labour laws do not include a mandatory retirement age.  In many provinces and territories mandatory ages of retirement are considered a human rights issue (Government of Canada).  This coupled with the recent economic slowdown; workers are remaining at their jobs longer than they may have in the past. It is as if a major case of “what if the markets crash again” has infected the nation.  There is a sense that some employees have been scared out of retirement and it is better to stay in the jobs they have a bit longer – just in case.  I understand that some people financially cannot afford to retire and others enjoy working and gain a sense of fulfillment from their jobs.  Therefore, not retiring is way of maintaining a purpose in life and is part many individuals’ identities.  However, for those people who are in the financial position to retire I ask the question why you are not retiring?  Please retire.  Allow the natural evolution of the workplace to take place.  For those who enjoy their jobs look at it as a challenge to find fulfillment elsewhere.  Retire and enjoy spending your days golfing, woodworking, or having coffee at Tim Horton’s complaining about how the younger generations are destroying the country.  Or even better, volunteer for organizations who appreciate the experience, knowledge and time retirees can bring to their organizations. Retire, so that a new generation can have access to the career opportunities that you once had. 

I ask the question how are Gen x, y, z, z+ to acquire our own retirement savings without the same opportunities of others before us.  Many companies have done away with pensions and given the past years headlines of pension mismanagement how are we to pay for our own retirement and pay to sustain these pension plans of the people continuing to work.  Right now, it looks and feels like Generations X, Y and beyond will have to be in the work force longer to have adequate savings, to be able to afford and hopefully enjoy our retirement.  From this side of the fence it feels like we will pass along the same problem to Generation Y that we are inheriting from our predecessors.  

I am still waiting for the 60% of projected retirees to actually retire so that I, friends and other Generation X’ers can have those much talked about and anticipated job and career opportunities we have been hearing about for much of our school and working years.  Instead, I spend my days working at the bottom of the salary range and searching for a new job, one with a higher salary or a career advancement opportunity so that I can actually increase my pathetic retirement savings and retire sooner.  Gone are the days of being a “company man/women” where employees such as our parents, worked for 30 years for the same company and received a gold watch in appreciation.  Do these jobs and career opportunities even exist? Will the public and private sectors actually fill those vacancies once people do retire or will those positions be deleted and companies downsized?  I ask again, where are these alleged opportunities? Right now, I fear they will not materialize in time for many of us Generation X’ers, but we will continue to wait patiently for this “mass exodus” from the workplace. 

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Pizza Peddler

Have you ever had a really bad date experience?  I think we all have though usually it isn't with someone you've been dating for a while.  By a while I mean a few months at 18 a few months seems like a long time versus at 30 something!  First off I should say this is NOT a fictional story it really happened to me and the memory is as fresh now as it was all those years ago.

I had been "dating" this older guy, he was 21, for a couple of months during my first semester of university.  After Thanksgiving, American Thanksgiving because this story takes place in the States, my boyfriend insisted on taking me out for dinner one Saturday night.  I was rather opposed to it because I really didn't like to get all dressed up and go to some fancy place for dinner...however, I finally agreed to go.  You know sometimes there are signs that for some reason we just don't see or pay attention too or both.  My first sign was that he showed up at my room dressed in jeans, JEANS! while I was all nicely dressed, hair done, makeup and jewelry on.

He was pretty excited and had borrowed his roommates car because we were going to drive to Sioux City, Iowa for our big night.  Sioux City, Iowa was known for a long time as the meat packing city, livestock was shipped by train into the city to the stockyards, and well slaughtered and processed into various forms of meat products.  In fact to this day when you enter the city from the west there is still large meat packing plant by the highway and it stinks...badly! This is important and pertinent to the story.

OK back to the roommate's car, we get in and because it's November in South Dakota and freezing he cranks up the heat!  We were immediately blasted by huge puffs of dust or smoke or whatever nasty particles were coming out of the cars heating vents.  But we carried on  to Sioux City passing the meat plant and its huge plumes of toxic smells.  We exited off the highway at some random exit I had never been on and ended up in what I thought was a vacant gravel lot in the bad part of town only to discover it was the old stock yards area and a parking lot to our "restaurant". 

Seriously I was really starting to doubt this "great" date night he had hyped about.  We walked into an old red brick building and took an old freight elevator painted with huge clowns, seriously, up a few floors to the "Pizza Peddler".  Yes my big night out was a cheap pizza dinner at a place that was a converted stock yard restaurant/amusement park place or whatever.  We we going to dine on pizza from huge picnic tables and oh what joy we could drive bumper cars while we waited. I kid you not.  I really didn't think at this point the night could get worse....

We sat down at a table for 12 the only other table was a group of children and adults clearly out for a fun filled night of frivolity!  from out of nowhere comes a robotic coyote riding a tricycle to take our orders...again I am completely serious. It was rather ironic given our school mascot was also a coyote.  However, this one had seen better days and he was operated by a guy I could see behind the kitchen wall plus there was a large speaker in his mouth.  We ordered and they my "boyfriend" left to use the bathroom he was gone for what seemed like forever...again another sign I didn't see.

A few minutes after he returned to our table I saw the coyote coming out of the kitchen with a huge package wrapped in Christmas wrapping paper....I thought it was for the table of kids but no horrified I watched as it passed them and stopped at our table.  Basically it became a battle between me and the coyote who wanted me to open the present right then and there and my boyfriend was no help he actually had the entire place including himself chanting "open the present, open the present" and banging knives and forks on tables.  I can be rather a stubborn person when forced into certain situations and this was one of them.  I absolutely refused to open the present and every time the coyote passed by our table he tried rather pathetically to get me to open it.  I actually at one point told him to come on out and open it himself!  After dinner I was given the choice of either driving bumper cars or going to a movie. I chose the movie because the night had already proven to be much more fun filled than I could have imagined.

When we came out of the movie it was snowing heavily and had been for sometime.  Our 45 minute drive back to campus quickly turned into a 2 hour drive from hell and not just because of the road conditions, and dust blowing heating vents.  No this was when my boyfriend of 2 months decided to pronounce his love for me.  It was a really bad, uncomfortable drive back for some many reasons including that I didn't love him back, didn't know what to say and I was trapped trapped in that little shite box of a car with nowhere to go, no escape for 2 hours.  I have never been so happy to see my dorm in my life.  When I got back to my room, my roommate asked how the night was, I think I just gave her a look.  She said I told him you probably wouldn't like it.  Oh and I thanked her for letting me go out all dressed and make-uped up.  It turns out I could have worn jeans and a t-shirt and been just fine.  In fact I would have had more in common with the chanting children and coyote!  I also opened the present it was a lava lamp.  Oh the romance of it all.

A few months afterward a friend of mine set me up with this guy and as we drove to Sioux City he asked "Have you ever been to Pizza Peddler?"  I kid you not.  I replied "Yes, yes I have". We went and played mini-golf as apparently there was no end to the fun filled games packed into the old red brick stock yard buildings.  We really had a good time but we didn't have pizza.  Ahh the irony.  I actually told him my story and we both laughed really hard.

Looking back the whole experience makes me laugh I mean I could have been a little bit more excited about the Pizza Peddler! I guess the boyfriend really did go out on a limb and try to be exciting and I guess I didn't appreciate it at the time...though I don't know how someone who is horrified by those public displays could be.  Plus I mean really it kind of proved that he didn't know me at all or at least those where my feelings.  Our relationship only lasted a month longer I can't say that the forray into Pizza Peddler land was the reason but seriously it didn't help. 

Food For Thought
“A man on a date wonders if he'll get lucky.  The women already knows".  ~ Monica Piper

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Is this a sign of a bad day?

Have you ever had one of those know where there are signs everywhere that you should just go home or should never have left home to begin with?  Well I had one last week.  My day started out well, actually good in fact then it all went downhill from there.

I had uploaded some of my digital pictures to Lens & Shutter for development and I was headed downtown Victoria to pick them up.  I was pretty excited since in the 4 years or so I have owned my digital camera I have been incredibly bad about getting pictures developed...I always had some sort of excuse not to but I had finally bit the bullet and had chosen 3 "experimental" prints to be blown up.  I was able to find a good parking spot downtown with a meter a block away from where I needed to go this was a good sign or so I thought!

So perhaps it was that I was overcome with excitement of picking up those pictures and seeing how great they had turned out that I failed to realize that I had stepped in POO on the way back to my vehicle.  Trust me this in an intergal part of my story.  I didn't notice until I had pulled out into traffic on my way to do an errand for my mum.  There was this god awful smell coming from well me!  And it was Poo!  And it was horrible, horrible.  The smell was not made better by the heat of the day and the fact that my truck cab basically in the heat is like a small very hot greenhouse sans air conditioning!  I made my way to the book store my next errand.  I quickly found a small patch of grass and began to vigorously purge my shoe of the poo....or so I thought.

I went into the rather small book store only to find my self in line behind two older women 1 who was returning books for money and in no hurry to find a few more asking about this author and that author... the other lady was a Margret Atwood look alike who wanted to purchase a box set of DVD's only to discover that the store only took cash or debit card. This would have been fine except that she didn't know what a debit card was, even my 90 year old grampa used a friggin debit card, until the cashier explained what it wasto her and I quote her reply "oh the thing I put into the wall?"  Jesus who doesn't know what a debit card is or that Mastercard is in fact a credit card so that when someone says we don't take credit cards your answer isn't how about Mastercard, do you take that? 

This all seemed to take forever before I was served which really on any other day wouldn't have mattered except that all I could smell was POO! I felt like I was made of POO that it was eminating from me for everyone in the 10 by 20 foot store to smell so I was doing my best to get in and out as fast as I could...before it became obvious to everyone that it was I that smelled of poo, that I was eminating that hianous smell. 

I finally get out of the store and I figure with the windows down in my truck  maybe I don't smell POO, you know maybe it's my imagination.  NOPE!  I nearly died of the toxic  poo fumes on my way home seriously!  I was planning on one more errand but since I was near vomiting and passing out in my truck I decided to head home. 

On the way home a rock from a passing car on the highway came flying into my truck hitting my windshield and ricocheting into my passenger seat! Scaring the poo out of me, figuratively not literally!  That was it, the final sign that I was not meant to be out that day! I made it home alive where I took off my shoes immediately and took a rather long hot shower to rid myself of any poo smell.

The worst part of the poo was till this day I am unsure it it was dog or people poo.  In down town Victoria it really could have been either.  I think it may have been human poo because I have never smelled dog poo that was so heinous smelling.

Food For Thought
“ I don't want to be stinky poo poo girl, I want to be happy flower child." ~ Drew Barrymore

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Are you an "Internet stalker"?

Months ago I got an email from a good friend from 1st year saying she had found people on the internet from our dorm years whom we had lost contact with.  Ok these were people we didn't want to keep in touch with but we're curious about.  She felt a bit weird about delving into these peoples lives only to garnish gossip and then pass it on to the rest of us.  I replied that I often "internet stalked" people as I refer to it. 

Ok it's not stalking but you know what I mean.  I think we can all admit to "finding" people from our past whom we are curious about...haven't we?  I know I have.  Let's face it with social networking like Facebook and My Space its easier and easier to find people.  I have spent hours looking for ex-boyfriends and people mainly frenemys to see if they are married with children etc, to see what they are doing with their lives. Dont' get me wrong I have also searched for friends too.

The question is WHY?  Why do we do this.  Personally for me it depends really on what is going on in my life.  For instance if I had a recent bad breakup then I feel that somehow I missed out on some great opportunity with some guy I dated when I was 16!  Really, I totally do this and I am sure I am not alone.  Usually these guys are married with kids and it looks like they are very happily which doesn't make me feel better or does it.  I don't know maybe it does. It certainly fills the void of not knowing.

I of coarse would be horrified to learn that some one had "internet stalked" me.  But I am sure it has happened.  I would be horrifed because I feel that my life isn't exactly what I had planned and if you have read some of my previous blogs you know I still haven't achieved adulthood.  I don't want these "stalkers" to find out! But really in the grand scheme of my life it makes no difference. Chances are I won't ever see them again. 

I think we search out these people from our past because its human nature to be curious about them.  You know that 1st year roommate you hated because they went home every weekend to see their 17 year old boyfriend whom they spent hours tying up the phone talking to!  What are they doing now?  Did they marry that guy and have 10 kids?  Or what about the crazy person two doors down or next door?  What happened to them?  With the beauty of the internet you can find out! And then go back to your life least for a while anyways, than you were before.    
Food for Thought
"The value of a social network is defined not only by who's on it, but by who's excluded" ~ Paul Saffo

Friday, September 11, 2009

University = education about yourself

I recently read a Globe and Mail article about things people wished they had or had not done in first year university and it got me thinking...about my own university years.

University to me is more than just attending lectures, failing calculus, drinking and sexual escapades.  It's about becoming a better more informed human being both intelligently and socially and of coarse its about people.  The best education you receive at school is about yourself and others.  You are put into situations you never thought you would be or hoped you'd be in... you are forced to deal with them.  These are the best lessons I learned from school.

I sometimes get nostalgic about my University years....especially the undergrad ones.  I attended two universities lived on campus for 4 out of 5 of those years.  And I loved it.  I mean I wouldn't go back to bad or even the good cafeteria food or eating Kraft Dinner out of my hotpot but there were some pretty amazing things and people I got to meet and  experience.  I would definitely go back to those.  I really learned a lot about myself and life whether I wanted to or not.  It wasn't all bad but it wasn't all rosy posy either.

One of the more interesting and shocking things I learned was that all families are abnormal and full of dysfunction, including your own...the levels just vary...really its a sliding scale.   I learned that people will and do have sex with and at the most inappropriate times, places and people. If you have never had a roommate have sex in your room while you were there, count yourself lucky my friend, it is an extremely awkward and embarrassing moment  or moments, depending on the length,  usually for you.  People do weird things in their rooms, bathrooms and other common places on campus.  Football players eat a lot of food and have their own fan clubs, and at my school were forced to take etiquette classes! Seriously!

I also learned that true and great friendships are formed through adversity both yours and theirs.  You learn to read people all people friends, fellow classmates, roommates, floormates and professors included.  You learn that test results and grades don't really mean a lot in the grand scheme of your or others lives.  Its the person journey through the system, fun and often frustrating.  Basically university offers you life lessons, a time and a place to discover yourself along with others.

Plus it's fun you have no responsibilities, for the most part, there are always people around and someone is always up to doing something, you have crazy philosophical and not-so-philosophical conversations with people.  I once had a conversation with a friend regarding pickles, he actually considered the pickle the great rape of the cucumber (his words not mine!). He didn't know pickling cucumbers exist and pickle makers just don't go out and according to him rape cucumber fields for small and vulnerable cucumbers.  HAHA it was awesome.  I mean where and when else could you have this conversation but in a university cafeteria or dorm room?

There are lots of things I miss and love about my university years... I will probably continue to reminisce about these from time to time. I hope you don't get bored.  Oh well too bad it's my blog.  But I don't have any regrets about those years only fond memories, lots of laughter and some pretty funny stories.  

Food For Thought

"Freedom of inquiry, freedom of discussion, and freedom of teaching -without these a university cannot exist" ~ Robert Maynard Hutchins

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Men & Women Can Be & Are Friends

I never even asked this questioned that men and women can’t be friends or had it asked of me until a few years ago. Actually it was more of a statement “men and women can’t be friends” than a question at that time. It was followed by “there is always an ulterior motive”. I call Bullshite. I think and know men and women can be and are friends.

It is a total misconception that our genders can’t be friends without some ulterior motive or reason like uh I don’t know, sex. Men and women can be friends without wanting to jump each other person’s bones. I can only speak for myself and a few of my friends but honestly friendship is the number one reason behind these relationships not sex or the hope of a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship.

I think people who don’t think men and women can be friends miss out on some pretty amazing friendships. I mean when did friendships between the genders get so complicated? When we were kids I don’t ever remember choosing only girls as friends. We didn’t because we were still innocent and accepting of all people despite our differences such as gender, color or race. Too bad we still don’t see the world and the people in it the same way. Somewhere on the road to adulthood some of us lost the ability to see each other as just people and friends.

I am not arguing that Men and women aren’t different. We are. We see the world and experience things from completely different points of view and places physically, mentally and emotionally. However, this should be the reason why we ARE friends, not why we are NOT. We should embrace friends of the opposite sex to be just that, friends; to dispel stereotypes, to have friends who think differently and who challenge your own ideas. I believe it is to both sex’s benefit to embrace these differences. I think it’s good to know that you can be a good friend, able to celebrate successes such as job promotions and relationships and be there when they need you such as breakups or deaths of loved ones despite their sex. We are influenced by the people in our lives and we should celebrate them despite gender differences.

I know people think girls and guys can’t be friends because of ulterior motives and romantic feelings. I know that romantic feelings do and can occur between friends of opposite genders, but in my experience true friends look beyond your gender, they value you and your friendship over your boobs even if this sometimes takes a while to happen. I am not saying people aren’t attracted at times to their friends of the opposite sex; we wouldn’t be human if we weren’t at some point. We are friends with people because we like and respect them, because they are good people, they make us laugh and we enjoy their company. I believe that we are attracted to the same qualities in our friends as we are in our “mate”. But that doesn’t mean we view every friend as a potential mate.

I have always had guy friends. In fact one of my oldest and best friends is a guy. He has provided me through the years with practical and insightful advice not to mention abundant laughter with his story telling. He lets me ask him stupid questions, mainly about men. In fact he was my life line during high school and university many times over. Why? He understands guys, unlike my girlfriends, because he is one. Plus I like him, he is a good person who makes me laugh and whom I like spending time with. He is honest and will tell me if he thinks the guys in my life are jackasses or nice or if I am being a jackass. Though I have to admit I don’t always listen but he is and always has been there for me. I feel my life is and has been enriched by 20 year our friendship. I hope he feels the same way. If not it’s too late because I know where he lives, where his parents live, his email address and his phone number! True friendship is just that friendship, and we choose our friends for who they are not what gender they are.

Food For Thought
"What is a friend? I will tell is someone with whom you dare to be yourself." ~ Frank Crane

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Parents are people too

Do you remember as a kid you never thought your parents were people? Well they are. I remember sometime after leaving home I came to this conclusion. I know sad isn’t it. I guess I was so wrapped up in my own world to actually have given it much thought before. I think it was because I didn’t have to before then. I mean I lived at home and they took care of me didn’t they, for all those years.

When I left home to go to university suddenly I had to take care of myself and do everything or at least most things for myself. And I realized parents do a lot for their kids or at least mine did. I also realized that they had their own lives...finally. I was the last kid to leave home and suddenly my parents were flying off to Hawaii and enjoying their empty nest. Doing all kinds of things they didn’t before because well they had us to take care of.

I will admit that I had a hard time adjusting at first. When my parents moved from the house I had spent almost 17 years living in it was hard. All my childhood memories were in that house immortalized for me, it was our “family home”, the new house not so much. I mean it was nice and new and everything my parents wanted sans kids. I however, felt it was lacking you know space for us, the kids. However, I adjusted because really I didn’t want to return to live there full-time, so what did I care that there was only one TV and no room designated for us kids?

Years have passed, it’s actually scary to think how many since I left home. My parents are doing and have done tons of stuff without us kids, and I am happy for them because they should get to after raising us. I am glad that my parents get to do things they enjoy and perhaps didn’t get a chance to when we were at home because as kids we came first. My parent’s golf lots, travel and take courses from the local college. We in fact have a more adult relationship....sometimes. I think that even though I see them as individuals both of us, parents and kids alike, have a hard time completely dissolving the parent-child relationship. I think my dad will always see me somewhere between 12 and 18 and more on the adult side when he needs technical support for his computer. My mum well I know she sees me as an adult but she still acts like I don’t know what I am doing sometimes. I think it’s just how they see us and they can’t help it. I am trying to let it go but I am not always as generous with them as I am with others. Why? Well because they are my parents and its OK to be irritated at and by them isn’t it. It’s safer because they have to love you just as you do them. And because they will always be your parents and you will always be their kid, despite how much you piss each other off.

I see my parents as people, as individuals with different personalities, interests and needs. I have seen them as people for many years now. However, I will always see them as my parents irritating, supportive and all no matter how old I get. It’s inevitable...and I can live with that.

Food For Thought
If you have never been hated by your child you have never been a parent. ~Bette Davis

Friday, September 4, 2009

I 've been laxs

Hi followers or should I say friends, because lets face it most likely the only people reading my blog are friends. Sorry for the long break from the blogs. I am back on it now so keep checking back for more.

Am I old or even worse outdated?

I never feel that I am an adult, though supposedly I am. I guess it’s because I associate being an “adult” as having a mortgage, a spouse and kids, things I also associate with my parents and being outdated. However, that being said I don’t feel old or outdated either...that is until I talk to younger people especially born in the eighties. A decade I thoroughly remember and at times wish I didn’t. That’s right folks I remember the excitement of cable TV, VCR’s, Much Music, MTV, and many wonderful and not so wonderful things, big hair and neon clothes to name a few, of the eighties.

I no longer get asked for identification at liquor stores, bars or restaurants. I remember thinking it was so great the first few times I didn’t get IDed. But the first time someone called me Madam at the grocery store I was shocked to discover they were actually talking to me. I think I aged on the spot. Really it was rather a harsh reality check. As I said I don’t feel old and outdated. I figured at a certain age we were all the same, you know once you pass the 20 threshold we are all comrades with similar memories and experiences. However, a conversation or I should say reminiscing with a friend about the first music video TV show and what a big deal it was....he replied uh I was born in 1984 and I have no idea what you are talking about. Obviously I was the only one doing the reminiscing! Yes I felt old and outdated. However, since then I have had many of those experiences and conversations and I know they will continue as I age. I don’t have to like it but I will have to get used to it...I guess.

A friend of mine recently had a co-worker born 1989. 1989 FOLKS! I mean they don’t even have a reference for the eighties, they missed it all! I don’t know about you but I remember 1989 very clearly. I remember things like acid wash jeans, Varnet shirts, Oakley sunglasses, Bon Jovi, Guns N’ Roses and Poison. Ahh the memories... I guess I just outdated myself, however, there is a ray of sunshine for us who feel outdated and even old.

Last year I went to the Bon Jovi concert in Vancouver. It was awesome by the way so was the George Michael Concert but that’s another story. I felt outdated buying tickets, some of my co-workers even sniggered, but I didn’t care and I went anyways. I left the concert feeling young, why you ask? Well because I was fighting 40 something women in line to buy merchandise. Basically I me felt young because I realized that while at Bon Jovi’s height and for years afterward I was a TEENAGER. Who knew that my youthful feelings would be returned by being shoved out of the way by large breasted women fully clad in acid wash jeans, jean jackets and Bon Jovi concert shirts from 1980 something. Might I add there were plenty of people dressed this way and not just women, men too. It was awesome, honestly I almost felt 15 again...almost no big hair and no acid wash this time around.

So when I feel outdated and old, when I have conversations with people who vaguely remember life before dvd players, cell phones, the meaning of those immortal words “Luke, I am your father”, Sixteen Candles, the Breakfast Club and many many other things from my youth. I remember the Bon Jovi Concert and I know that I am not so outdated. Nor do I feel that I have to become an adult completely. I know that in ten years time I can attend a concert wearing an outfit from my youth and not look out of place just like those 40-somethings did at Bon Jovi. I gives me hope people. I makes me realize that I am not outdated or even old, as I feared because there are others, people from generations before, who are even older and more outdated than me. And that makes me smile. I have another 40 plus years before I truly feel old and outdated. You know, when I am eighty-something instead of thirty-something.

Food For Thought

Growing old is mandatory; growing up is optional. ~Chili Davis