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BEACON Senior News - Western Colorado

Forever painfully and gainfully employed

Jul 02, 2024 04:37PM ● By John C. Liburdi

Recent discussions about unemployment have made me reflect on the nature of jobs themselves. Some professions have vanished, others have transformed and many have moved offshore. I’m retired, but it leaves me wondering about the future of jobs for the average American like me. 

Indeed, certain jobs are now obsolete. The only chimney sweep I’ve seen lately was in the classic film “Mary Poppins”— those once-ubiquitous figures are scarce now that most people have natural gas and digital fireplaces. The shade-tree mechanic has also disappeared; modern cars are essentially computers on wheels, and can’t be helped by a monkey wrench. 

On the other hand, ambitious entrepreneurs have created some new jobs. The woman down the street from me is a perfect example. She’s constantly launching new ventures, from in-home pet sitting to garage cleaning, and she might even turn her van into a mobile massage parlor next. 

Some jobs have evolved. What used to be a grubby garbage man is now a pristine sanitation worker, and even more impressively, an environmental engineer. This title is more prestigious than many white-collar jobs. 

How about the TV repairman who used to make house calls to fix massive console TVs? He’s left behind the old glass tubes and his mundane title, transforming into a savvy electronics technician. Today, he might be part of the Geek Squad, riding the waves of new technology.

Sadly, many jobs have been outsourced overseas. A poignant reminder came during a conversation with my bank’s customer service representative. Her sweet voice came not from a local branch, but from the Philippines, where she and my financial data reside. 

Similarly, the 1-800 help desks for computer support are typically stationed around New Delhi. Despite the distance, those chaps are always so nice to me, as though I were the government official who issues immigration visas.

Even some professions remaining in the U.S. are facing uncertain futures. The role of a midwife, for example, is seeing a decline due to widespread access to free birth control and families deciding not to have children. 

With high unemployment rates, few are daring enough to risk their positions with a defiant “Take this job and shove it.” I myself was on the brink of doing just that until my retirement savings plummeted with the stock market and my Social Security benefits turned into a political piñata.

It seems my fate is to remain a working stiff until the day I join the silent ranks in the morgue. I plan to make that transition quietly, without causing a fuss that might jeopardize the cushy positions of career politicians. After all, why should their secure jobs be threatened by the struggles of one average American?

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