Old People Need Jobs — and Not Just at the Vatican

Pope Francis, the new leader of the worldwide Catholic Church, is 76 years old. Some people think he’s too old to be assuming such a demanding Melvin Durai's Humorposition. They wonder how long he’ll be able to serve as Pope, considering that his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, was 78 when elected to the Papacy and lasted only as long as three Charlie Sheen marriages.

But I don’t see anything wrong with a 76-year-old Pope. Just think how much experience Pope Francis brings to the job. He has witnessed so Loren Wademany life-changing events during his time on Earth: the abolition of slavery, the discovery of penicillin, the invention of the padded bra.

Okay, perhaps he’s not quite that old, but he does have a wealth of experience to bring to the job, and that’s a good thing. I love to see an older person getting such a high-profile job. In fact, if I had my way, nobody would be considered for the position of Pope until they had as many lines on their foreheads as their résumés.

In some countries, people are forced to retire from certain occupations while they’re in their late 50s! That seems patently unfair to me. Just imagine if Oscar-winning actor Ernest Borgnine had retired in his 50s. We would have never seen him in such movies as “The Graduates of Malibu High,” “Frozen Stupid” and “Real Men Don’t Eat Gummi Bears.”

Okay, bad example. But you get the point. People in their late 50s still have a lot to contribute – perhaps even more than they contributed before. Laura Ingalls Wilder published her first “Little House on the Prairie” book when she was 64. Claude Monet, the great French artist, completed many of his masterpieces after age 60. And Betty White was almost 90 when she got tackled in a Snickers commercial.

At age 100, Loren Wade of Winfield, Kansas, is America’s oldest worker. While other centenarians have been retired for 40 years, Wade works 30 hours a week at Wal-Mart, usually in the pet supplies department. If you’re having trouble lifting a 50-lb bag of dog food into your cart, Wade is the guy who’ll help you find one of the young guys in the back.

The older I get, the more I support some form of age-based affirmative action – or positive discrimination, as they call it in Britain. We need to create special jobs for senior citizens, so they can stay active and keep contributing to society. Here are just three job ads that I would like see:

1. Receptionist. Male Potency Clinic seeks receptionist to answer phone calls and schedule patients for consultations with Dr. C. Ellis. Preference will be given to candidates who have trouble remembering names and faces. Young people need not apply.

2. Living History Guide. Senior citizens needed to visit schools and talk about their childhoods, as part of a 20th century history lesson. Students are eager to hear your amazing stories, whether you had to walk 10 miles to get to school or grew up in a single TV household. Please bring your photo albums along, as many of our students are eager to find out what a “photo album” is.

3. FCC Reporters. Citizens aged 65 and above are encouraged to apply for the newly created position of Federal Communications Commission (FCC) reporter. As an FCC reporter, your job is to watch TV full-time and report any inappropriate language that makes you feel like using inappropriate language. You might be an ideal candidate if: (1) you often complain about “all the filth” on TV; (2) your grandchildren accuse you of being a prude; (3) you’ve written a letter to Joel Osteen asking him to stop saying “gosh, darn it.”

If you enjoyed this piece, you'll love Melvin's novel Bala Takes the Plunge, available in North America through Amazon.com and McNallyRobinson.com You can also find it at major bookstores in India and Sri Lanka or online at FlipKart, IndiaPlaza, FriendsofBooks or other sites. A number of readers have written reviews of the novel. An excerpt of the novel can be read here.

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