No exactly overheard at work, but I was speaking with a friend/coworker the other day and complaining a bit about how we spend so much on groceries and how I need to get a handle on it. He asked me what I wanted to spend the money on that I wanted to free up by spending less on groceries.
It took me a moment to process before replying that I wanted to save the money, not spend it on something else. The response I got back was pretty dismissal, along the lines of "why would you want to do that?".
I went to an end-of-the-school-year beach thing yesterday. Well, my spouse took the boys, I showed up at 6:20 after getting out of work. Not many people left.
Anyway, was talking to a man there. I've met his wife a few times. He's 54 with a kindergartener. He talked about how he's in "cloud computing" and he's been very careful to pay attention to the industry all his career and make sure that he's relevant and up to date - this keeps his skills new and needed and means that the longest he has ever been unemployed is 3 months.
He said "it's important at my age so that you don't age out due to being..." I said "obsolete" and he said "no, unhireable. It's different. You can be relevant but unhireable because you are too old and too expensive. But if you are very skilled, you can stay employed." We then discussed my work and the fact that "are there any semiconductor fabs left in the US?" Yeah, not many, hence why I'm frugal (one of the many reasons).
But I brought the subject up at lunch today, as we were eating free leftovers from the business meeting. And my former boss (late 50's) was agreeing completely. He said "I can run divisions and companies, so I don't suffer as much from the ageism, but it's a real thing". And it's true for him - he's been a VP and is totally awesome. For me though, at almost 45 - I am seeing the effects of being female (glass ceiling), being in a dying industry (very few places to move up), being a mother (not willing to work 50-60 hour weeks), and not being willing to move. Even the very experienced and awesome people that I know, in their 50's, have taken at least 6 months to find a job, sometimes longer. And these are people who are well known with a lot of connections.
It hit fast, too. At 40, I realized I was protected from age discrimination and it felt silly. It doesn't feel very silly anymore. Companies are like the military - pyramids. There aren't that many spots at the "top", so if you are "just an engineer", you may have 30 years of experience, but you are competing with dozens of people with 15-30 years experience. So, do I want to be a "worker bee" known for my solid, fast, quality work? Or do I want to try to climb the ladder? Or what?
Interesting topic all around, and a bit depressing (you can NEVER assume that your salary will go up and up, or even hold steady, especially after 55). I don't think most people quite work that into their retirement plans.