Life at Up Up and Away Investment Management International: Chapter 20 Where have all the old people gone?

Chapter 20

So where have all the old people gone?

If I had decided to eat out for lunch when working at Up Up and Away Canada in Toronto I frequently walked over to the food court at First Canadian Place because it had so much natural light. I am no fan of bunkers with bright fluorescent lighting which one finds so often in downtown Toronto. If you have been to the Scotiabank food court in Toronto you’ll know what I mean.

Over the past few years I noted I was just about the oldest person out of the thousand or so people that were eating there. In your mid to late fifties you really aren’t that old but eating at this food court was suddenly making me feel old.

Could it be that the older people, like Sally Self, were playing the game of looking busy and devoted hence eating at one’s desk was a necessity to perpetuate that image? Were the wise old people so desperate to save their job that they decided to be chained to their desk at lunch despite productivity studies showing a one-hour lunch off premises improves productivity. Image as opposed to reality! Sometimes this is important at largecorp. On the other hand it was probably the case that largecorp targets those in their mid fifties and greater as prime downsizing targets so there are just no old folks left in the office towers.

In fact, at Up Up and Away Canada in Toronto I was beginning to feel old to the extent I was one of 4 out of a thousand or so employees that had reached the age of 60. Based on my trips to Up Up and Away America in New York I noticed the lack of old folks there too except of course for the Senior Management Team and board of directors who wanted their hand in the cookie jar of executive compensation for the longest period possible. For these geezers it was out of the game by stroke, cancer or heart attack for them! However even then I recall a member of Up Up and Away’s Canadian board of directors that despite a severe stroke he was labouring to recover from he so very slowly returned to the board. The extra $6,000 per board meeting must have hastened his recovery! Who cared if he was setting himself up for another stroke! A man who should be packing it in yet instead he was inadvertently begging for a premature death! Up Up and Away Canadian SMT blessed mega terminations of healthy employees but keeping a crippled and mentally challenged stroke victim on its board was fine? Why? Because he was one of their own.

I began to detect a pattern in Up Up and Away employee terminations, and other corporate terminations for that matter, where the older ranks (far younger than 65) were particularly subject to the cull. These were people often with deep operational and practical knowledge that could get the job done in far less time than a newly hired employee could so from an efficiency standpoint culling the older employees did not make sense.

What did make sense was that older workers had higher salaries. Their health was not as robust as the younger employees. Since there were so many terminations the remaining older employees had far too much responsibility heaped on their shoulders and more were making disability claims based on workplace stress. Labour is but a commodity and older workers in direct dollar and measurable cost are more expensive.

And get terminated in your 50’s good luck in finding another job. Like society at large there is racism, sexism and there certainly is ageism. Largecorp chews you up and spits you out and occasionally hires a fresh set of recruits as soon as the post downsizing “hiring freeze” ends.

I find it ironic that there is no legal retirement age although most Canadians set it at 65 while our federal government has raised Canada Pension Plan entitlement to 67 yet the real retirement age and the end of the road age at largecorp is somewhere between 57-60 for the average employee. And just how many can afford being thrust into retirement?

Now if you are lucky to make it until 65 in the workplace and don’t retire and expect to get a severance package I have found that largecorp can make life difficult for you. My poor friend, Bill Mudsle, had reached 65 and suddenly all the staff that had been reporting to him were now reporting to another person. His office was taken from him and he was placed in a cubicle and he no longer had regularly scheduled meetings with the President. The reasons for these harassment tactics were always logically presented to Mudsle by Up Up and Away Canada. Eventually it became apparent it was not worth the humiliation of remaining nor of suing Up Up and Away Canada for constructive dismissal. He left. Can one honestly say Mudsle retired or was he constructively dismissed?

The treatment of Mudsle was disgusting. And no farewell party was organized by Up Up and Away Canada. His fellow employees organized cake and coffee at their own expense and a smaller group of his friends took him and his wife out for a farewell dinner. Oh but how the trumpets blared when a member of the SMT retired!

I knew that largecorp can be greedy, brutal and heartless but a lack of a formal Up Up and Away Canada send-off for Mudsle was downright mean. Mudsle told me at this farewell dinner he felt like he had been stabbed by a long icy cold knife.

This event gave me the resolve never to go down to largecorp’s sinister ambitions without a fight. If Up Up and Away Canada planned to take me out it would be time to make them pay. Perhaps a pre-emptive strike was in order?

Published by Robert K Stephen (CSW)

Robert K Stephen writes about food and drink, travel, and lifestyle issues. He is one of the few non-national writers to be certified as a wine specialist by the Society of Wine Educators, in Washington, DC. Robert was the first associate member of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada. He also holds a Mindfulness Certification from the University of Leiden and the University of Toronto. Be it Spanish cured meat, dried fruit, BBQ, or recycled bamboo place mats, Robert endeavours to escape the mundane, which is why he has established this publication. His motto is, "Have Story, Will Write."

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