Ageism at its worst? Or something else?


This is John Kullmann (JK) Scheinberg, the brilliant Apple engineer who was responsible for the shift of Apple to Intel processers (he developed a MacOSX that ran on PCs, getting it going on a Sony Vaio in two hours).

He had retired but found himself getting bored. He applied and was turned down for a job at an Apple Genius Bar, apparently because of his age. He was 54 at the time.

Apple Genius Bars are famous for employing young and hip people. But boy would I not have given anything to receive computer help from this man!

Of course it could have been other things. Maybe they felt he was overqualified and would soon leave? Maybe they felt as a techie he would not have the right people skills?  Though I follow him on Facebook and he is awfully social, plus has a black and white cat!

As people are living longer and (thanks to the dropping birth rate) there are fewer people to support the ageing population, the retirement age will probably increase across the globe. Some countries are already discussing increasing it to 70. We are healthier for longer and, in many ways, 60 seems to be the new 40.

But ageism exists. About a year ago, a seller on eBay had stolen photographs from my blog to sell her items. When I contacted her to ask her to take them down, she flew into me with insults about my age.

Two people over the last six months (one a stalker on my blog and the other a narcissistic ex boyfriend from long ago who is, ironically, the same age as I am) have used my age as an insult.

They didn’t seem to realise I was not insulted at all. My parents died way before they hit 50, my niece has just died at 40. Every day I live, I glory in being alive and being lucky enough to get older. Every day I outlive many many people who have not been lucky to make it this far.

In sub Saharan Africa, older people are shown so much respect. The elders are venerated and looked up to as wise and valuable to the community. You are looked after by your tribe when you get old.

Here in Europe it seems that age is something distasteful, an insult to be flung, something no one wants to be. Which I think is so sad.

Author: Janet Carr

Fashion, beauty and animal loving language consultant from South Africa living in Stockholm, Sweden.

3 thoughts

  1. Yes in the work place age certainly goes against you.

    I experienced this in my last job. Until one day when the young guns didn’t know the answer to something I just strolled up to a white board and started explaining the thing they were trying to solve in a simple language… I then put down the pen and went back to my work smiling to myself!!!

    The young boss did thank me though, reluctantly I think!

    It’s how you do it!!!

  2. Janet I feel like here in the States the older generation is kind of shoved aside unless, you have money. I wish it was more like sub Saharan Africa here.

  3. This is so true, Janet, and the older you get the worse it becomes. By seventy a woman is largely invisible. I have never worried about my age, yet now, at seventy, I notice people making judgements about me based on my age. It surprises them that I do courses on FutureLearn and still ride a motorcycle and drive a car. Not all of us are ready for the Zimmer frame once we pass 65. I just ignore the patronising remarks.

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