Seniority ain’t what it used to be

According to the Telegraph and Radio 4, the mid-life crisis is now passé. Instead, a graceful ‘midlife transition’ is now the fashionable way to deal with the aging process. “Gone are the clichés of adultery and Harley-Davidsons,” said Radio 4’s Justin Webb.

Damn! I was looking forward to a Harley-Davidson and a bit of adultery. A graceful transition doesn’t sound nearly as much fun. Why is it that, whenever I am on the cusp of seniority, the perks of that seniority are withdrawn just before I get there?

This seems to have been the story of my life. It started when I was a kid. At the school I went to, sixth-formers were expected to give punishments to younger pupils for minor misdemeanours, by making them write lines. As soon as I got to the sixth-form the practice was abolished. In a similar vein, the sixth-form centre, once a private fiefdom in a separate building, was replaced by a crappy common room in the main school building, under the watchful eyes of the authorities.

It was the same when I started work. Just as I got to the grade where you were allowed to have your own office, the company decided that offices were old-fashioned and went open-plan. When I reached the point in the hierarchy where you were entitled to a fat-cat gas-guzzling car, the firm went all eco-friendly and decided that we should all travel by train. Eventually, I got to the level when, in days of yore, executives spent their afternoons playing golf or having long boozy lunches with clients. Alas, I soon discovered that those days were gone. Instead, I had people bending my ear about ‘making the numbers’, ‘shareholder value’, ‘the quarterly report’ and all sorts of other tiresome things. The old buffers who were the senior executives when I started work never seemed to worry about stuff like that.

What really annoys me is that I know this is going to keep happening until, twenty years or so from now, some spotty geek calling himself a financial adviser will say, “Oh yeah, pensions, they had them in the olden days didn’t they? Seems like you used to have one but it got wiped out by the last three banking crashes. You can’t afford to retire so you’ll have to keep working until you are seventy-five.”

Age and seniority just ain’t what they used to be.

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10 Responses to Seniority ain’t what it used to be

  1. mkeeffer says:

    Perhaps they’re not, but maybe this is the Universe keeping you pure and honest? You’re so smart and capable I don’t think any of this has stopped you one bit…keep going!

  2. thehrd says:

    Argghhh the pension bit gets me too. I hear people in retirement talking about executive bonuses and I think, “but at least you have a pension”. And particularly ex public sector retirees……..

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  4. TGS says:

    You’re right about pensions. My brother-in-law retired at 55 on a large DB pension during the privatisations of the mid 80’s and is still going strong.

    Like you I’m now looking at savings and pensions being inflated away to pay for the largess of this Government and wondering if retirement is a mirage.

    PS When I was in the army I was convinced that privileges got promoted the same day as me.

  5. Rick says:

    TGS – a friend of mine who was in the RAF said the same thing. Eventually he became a Group Captain but by then Group Captains were not nearly as grand as they had been when he joined up.

  6. Judging from recent bits of news (media, science, you name it…) being a ‘senior’ and also a woman is even tougher. I don’t think in maturity there’s a chronological age at which, on average, being female doesn’t offer yet another downside.
    But I do take the general point; and I suspect that before too long there will be more people saying, ‘Ah, if only X had had more experience before s/he did whateveritis…’
    It won’t be the technicals as such, it will be the really understanding how things link together. Maybe at that point the ‘diverse boards are better’ findings, about which we all do in fact know, will come into their own, and age, gender etc will be less of a factor. It will be the mix which counts.
    Well, we can hope….

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