Author Topic: Elderly folks working low paying retail jobs  (Read 8974 times)

Zamboni

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Elderly folks working low paying retail jobs
« on: September 21, 2013, 08:48:08 PM »
Maybe this isn't the right forum location for this post, because it seems more sad than comedic.

I've always noticed a few retirees working at WalMart, McDonald's etc.  But this week I've been nearly overwhelmed with VERY elderly people working at these types of jobs.  Three consecutive check outs (at Rite Aid, PetSmart, and Target) the person at the register appeared to be at least 80 years old.  Actually both ladies looked like maybe they were even in their 90's.  This is based upon my extensive experience playing bridge with retired people; I think I'm reasonable at estimating ages.

I hope they are working because they want to be out and about, and not because they need the money to eat, but I worry that it is the latter.  :-(

Has anyone else noticed this?  Is it just a trend in my local area?

imustachemystash

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Re: Elderly folks working low paying retail jobs
« Reply #1 on: September 21, 2013, 09:33:22 PM »
Wow!  That would really suck!  I hope they are doing it for mental stimulation and not because they have to.  I wonder if this will be more common when I am elderly due to our generation not saving for retirement as they should be.

cats

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Re: Elderly folks working low paying retail jobs
« Reply #2 on: September 21, 2013, 10:07:41 PM »
I am sure at least *some* of it is wanting to be out and about.  I pretty routinely meet folks who tried standard retirement and then basically found they were getting bored or turning into hermits.  But at the same time, I doubt all of them are doing it purely for fun...

pachnik

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Re: Elderly folks working low paying retail jobs
« Reply #3 on: September 21, 2013, 10:23:59 PM »
Working in your 90s sounds scary to me.  I can't say that I have noticed that age group working here in my part of the world but I'm going to pay more attention next time I am in a store.  I hope it is for the mental challenge and to get out of the house. 

Personally, I want to leave my day job in about 10 years and then work part-time at something while I am in my 60's (health permitting). 

Nords

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Re: Elderly folks working low paying retail jobs
« Reply #4 on: September 21, 2013, 10:26:12 PM »
I've always noticed a few retirees working at WalMart, McDonald's etc.  But this week I've been nearly overwhelmed with VERY elderly people working at these types of jobs.  Three consecutive check outs (at Rite Aid, PetSmart, and Target) the person at the register appeared to be at least 80 years old.  Actually both ladies looked like maybe they were even in their 90's.  This is based upon my extensive experience playing bridge with retired people; I think I'm reasonable at estimating ages.
I hope they are working because they want to be out and about, and not because they need the money to eat, but I worry that it is the latter.  :-(
Has anyone else noticed this?  Is it just a trend in my local area?
It's anecdotal, but here's another anecdote.

There are about a half-dozen Pearl Harbor survivors who live on Oahu and volunteer at the USS ARIZONA Memorial.  It's 2-3 days per week for a few hours in the mornings.  They sit at a table by the flow of visitors, show their photo albums, autograph their books, tell war stories with the other vets, and get hugs from the girls.  There's also a donation jar on the table-- last year these guys cleared over $60K in cash donations from people of all nationalities, a dollar or two at a time.

They're all well into their 90s, and they've watched their ranks shrink by at least 90%.  Some of them go through a huge mobility hassle each day to haul themselves out of bed, clean up, get in the car (or get a ride) and get to the table.  Then they have to get home.  The routine hardly ever changes, and I'm sure the stories have been told more than five thousand times (perhaps slightly exaggerated).  But they cheerfully admit that without the volunteer goal, they'd just curl up in a corner and die.  And if they're running low on funds... well... maybe that donation jar really saw $100K last year.  It's self-reported and nobody checks up on them.  But I doubt they're skimming.

Older Americans, women in particular, fear the "Bag Lady With Cats" Syndrome.  (Yes, it's widespread enough to have a professional designation.)  If they see that they're getting too close to the edge of their budget, they'll take a job that doesn't require a large time commitment or a lot of proficiency training.  That usually ends up being clerical, cleaning, or cashier.  Others feel that they have to "earn" their extra spending by taking a paying job until they've saved up the funds.

One of our neighbors has decided to retire from her job at a child care center.  She works a 40-hour week and she enjoys the kids but she's getting annoyed by the bureaucratic & administrative hassles.  She also has plenty of money and spends very little of it.  She has no idea what she's going to do all day, and my spouse is a little concerned about us becoming the focus of her new-found free time.  She's only 67 years old, and I bet she drifts around for a few months before finding a new job in one of the "C" occupations.

Maybe you could engage the people you see in conversation.  If they're saving up for their Acapulco cruise then they'll cheerfully admit it.  If they're bored & lonely then they might admit that too.  If they're doing their hours of community service for that unfortunate drunk & disorderly plea bargain, well... maybe not.  But if they're running low on funds they usually phrase that as "Wanted to see if I could still do it" or "Need to get my butt off the couch and find some exercise"...

Jamesqf

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Re: Elderly folks working low paying retail jobs
« Reply #5 on: September 21, 2013, 10:52:19 PM »
"Need to get my butt off the couch and find some exercise"...

As a cautionary tale...  I have two neighbors, one mid to late 60s, the other will be 99 soon (if he isn't already).  The other day we had a little local drama: a delivery person came to the older guy's place, no one was home, and he noticed blood spattered on the front steps.  Called the county sheriff, had about 4 cars worth looking around the place, trying to decide if he'd been murdered or something.  Finally found out that he'd cut his hand pretty badly on his table saw, and his wife drove him to the emergency room.

The cautionary part?  The younger neighbor (though you'd be hard-pressed to tell the difference in their ages) said that the older guy ought to stop doing stuff, and just sit in front of the TV watching movies all day - which is pretty much what the younger guy does.  Now if I ever get like that, don't even bother to check for a pulse, just bury me.

Zamboni

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Re: Elderly folks working low paying retail jobs
« Reply #6 on: September 22, 2013, 12:14:59 PM »
I can envision the volunteering at a monument or museum, but working at Target or Rite Aid just seems like sensory deprivation purgatory.  Actually, the pet store kind of makes sense when I think about it.  If she likes animals, then that could be rewarding, although standing at the cash register is not fun (and this comes from experience.)

I did strike up a conversation with the Rite Aid lady and she helped me find something I was looking for.  She told me all about her grandchildren, and she's the one that first got me noticing all the quite elderly people working in retail.  She looked like she'd been through chemo as her hair was just growing back and she had drawn on her eyebrows.  Maybe going through that makes a job at Rite Aid seem like fun?  I remember being excited to go to the post office to buy stamps after being laid up with a serious injury for a few weeks.  I'm not sure how I could politely ask why someone is working.

Maybe all of my hobbies make it so difficult for me to envision wanting to work in retail.  Thinking of all of the alternatives:  playing music, gardening, playing cards, building stuff, cleaning the fish tank, going for a walk, reading a book, writing a book, posting on forums, learning on Coursera, playing with grandkids, museums, water jazzercise/art/caligraphy class at the local senior center . . . cashier at Target is just way down the list, although I suppose it's not at the very bottom.

I know at least one friend whose 80-something year old Mom works at WalMart because she blew all of her savings too fast.  I think of her every time I walk by the similar looking old guy who is the morning greeter (always at the same middle door) of the WalMart by my house.  He just sits there on his stool and he never looks happy.  :-(

Joshin

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Re: Elderly folks working low paying retail jobs
« Reply #7 on: September 22, 2013, 12:42:03 PM »
Purely anecdotal, but we have an elderly woman on our block that works as a greeter at a big box store. She divorced late in life and never worked previously, so she doesn't have her own SSI and only gets a limited SSI from her former spouse. She has to work to make ends meet.

There's a greeter at the Walmart near my house that has to be in her 80's at least. I saw her a few weeks ago doing her shopping at different store. She was with an obviously mentally disabled man that was probably in his 50's. My guess is she has to work as well to help support herself and her (most likely) son.

My guess is a lot of elderly do need to work to make ends meet, or at least think they do. Just in my limited experience, those that don't need to work in retirement tend to gravitate toward fulfilling volunteer opportunities instead of paid menial jobs.

Zamboni

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Re: Elderly folks working low paying retail jobs
« Reply #8 on: September 22, 2013, 08:51:51 PM »
^That's what worries me.

Obviously many people like having somewhere to get up and go regularly.  This is why the bridge club near my house has such a big afternoon group on weekdays.

I also had an elderly co-worker who didn't want to retire (worked into his 80's.)  He had no family or grandkids.  So, he kept coming in every day and when he died he left us (his employer) millions of dollars in his will.  8-)  Obviously I work for a nonprofit.

I understand wanting to keep working . . . just not at the cash register in retail.  I've had that job and it was sometimes fun, but it also made my feet hurt.

expatartist

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Re: Elderly folks working low paying retail jobs
« Reply #9 on: September 22, 2013, 09:49:28 PM »
My mom retired a couple of years ago. At first she just did some part-time tutoring and substitute teaching. But then she got hooked on travel to far-flung locations. So she's just started a part-time job (3 days/week, helping people who've begun to lose their vision) that adds some structure to her life and provides a steady income she can save for her travel habit. The job is related to her previous work as a teacher, but keeps her interested and engaged in the community as well.

She could survive on her retirement benefits but with the job, she's got plenty of money to fund her main vice.

hybrid

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Re: Elderly folks working low paying retail jobs
« Reply #10 on: September 23, 2013, 06:58:55 AM »
Working definitely gives some older folks a sense of purpose.  My neighbor is financially independent, 90, and recently retired at his 2-4 day a week desk job not because he wanted to, but because the company folded.

Not saying that's the case for all though, I'm sure many are working because they have little recourse.

oldtoyota

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Re: Elderly folks working low paying retail jobs
« Reply #11 on: September 23, 2013, 09:37:45 AM »
I am glad you brought up this topic. I was wondering the exact same thing when I went to our local drug store yesterday.
« Last Edit: September 23, 2013, 10:00:23 AM by oldtoyota »

Rachelocity

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Re: Elderly folks working low paying retail jobs
« Reply #12 on: September 23, 2013, 09:58:15 AM »
I'm 57 and when I retire, my plan is to work a couple of shifts a week at Costco.  I like the store, it's a good way to get an even deeper  discount on stuff I'd buy anyway, and most importantly, it's a complete change from what I've been doing for the past 30-something years. I think it would be fun to have a "job-ette" instead of a career, and be able to leave it all behind at the end of the day. 

oldtoyota

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Re: Elderly folks working low paying retail jobs
« Reply #13 on: September 23, 2013, 10:01:11 AM »
Yup. I agree with Rachelocity. I worked retail as a kid and enjoyed it. I'd do it again for fun.


rocklebock

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Re: Elderly folks working low paying retail jobs
« Reply #14 on: September 23, 2013, 11:21:59 AM »
I have retired relatives who are very wealthy (probably multimillionaires, but I can't say for sure). The wife works at a housewares store every year during the holiday rush. They absolutely do not need this money. She enjoys the holiday bustle and the employee discount. It's about the last thing I'd ever do for fun - I guess it takes it all kinds.

Pollyanna

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Re: Elderly folks working low paying retail jobs
« Reply #15 on: September 23, 2013, 11:25:26 AM »
My mother worked part-time at a jewelry store until her mid-70's -- she didn't need the money at all, she liked having a reason to dress up and be out with people, (she is much more social than my Dad), and to "know what day of the week it is", also she loved the discount and usually left most of her paycheck with the store.  Over the years I received some fabulous jewelry items!
She made many friends and still keeps up with them, lunching, going to shows, etc. 

As for me, when I retire, I would like to work at some of my favorite stores, just to have fun! 

Abe

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Re: Elderly folks working low paying retail jobs
« Reply #16 on: September 23, 2013, 12:45:14 PM »
One of our attending surgeons retired last year at 79.  He operated several times a week. He mostly taught the residents how to perform the operation, but could step in at any time and still had great dexterity.  He works on clinical research now and teaches resident classes.

LalsConstant

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Re: Elderly folks working low paying retail jobs
« Reply #17 on: September 23, 2013, 01:38:30 PM »
I've done a fair amount of retail at Lowe's Home Improvement, and again at Wal-Mart.  It's not a great job but it's one of the few in a small city that can work around being a student.

With that said:

RE: older people working to support themselves because they have no savings or other expenses - Yes absolutely this happens.  I didn't see it as much at Lowe's, mostly because that place has fewer opportunities for, well I don't know how to say this politely, for the decrepit.  You don't have to be capable of lifting 50 pounds for EVERY job but there's just so many you can't do unless you're relatively hale and hearty.

We did have some older employees there, but more on that in a moment.

Now at Wal-Mart, where you can a greeter, be a register jockey or just fold and hand garments or fabric all day, there are a lot more possibilities.  You do have to be able to stand on your feet on that absolutely unrelenting concrete floor for hours on end though.  Seriously I've done much rougher work than Wal-Mart, but Wal-Mart made my feet hurt worse and gave me larger calluses on my heels and toes than any other job I've ever had.  I can't imagine how it feels when all the cartilage in your knees is gone.

Generally they were people who just never saved, who never had anything, who were paying for the lifestyles of a child or grand child, etc.  It was sad.  They were usually good employees, but there just wasn't a lot Wal-Mart could offer them because nearly all of them were only capable of short shifts.  At least they were willing to hire them.  People talk about of bad about Wal-Mart but I know for a fact my store kept its fair share of elderly people in much better living conditions than otherwise.

I didn't see anyone older than 60 working there for giggles.  We did have a few people who just worked there to have a job, but they tended to be younger retirees or stay at home spouses.  They're usually some of your best employees because they're happy outside of Wal-Mart and the prospect that "This is my life and all I will ever have" doesn't occur to them.

There are a few happy career Wal-Mart employees, they are the backbone of that company and it treats them like garbage.

I can't bitch completely about how Walmart treated me; I got screwed a couple of times but overall it was okay.  I started at $8.90 an hour and quit 2 years later, with $11.00 an hour pay, full time hours, health insurance, 401k, etc.  I call that fair, considering I made it clear I was out as soon as I found my chance.

Now Lowe's was a different story.  Because Lowe's is a bit more specialized and has some areas of the store where you might find some things people are passionate about, you do find some "pleasure" workers, including some old ones.

We had one woman who worked in the garden center was in her 80s, but she loved to grow flowers and shrubs.  She was one of our best employees, she knew how to make things grow and how to plant them.

There was an older man, about 70, who I wouldn't mind imitating.  He worked part time in Tool World, and his job just kicked all sorts of ass.  All he did was talk about tools all day, and he got to play with the newest things.  He would take his earnings, go buy materials and tools on his employee discount, and go home and just make random stuff.

His whole job was stock tools, organize tools, talk to people about tools, talk about his projects... and because he didn't depend on the job for anything other than supporting his hobby he was always happy at work.

There's another job at Lowe's that's even better.  Assembler.  All you do is put together wagons, furniture, lawn mowers, grills, etc.  That's it, all day.  Literally that's all you do.  You get your own little area, you get to shoot the breeze, no one bothers you as long as you get it done, etc.

But if there's one job I learned that's worth doing in your old age, it's watering in a nursery.  You get up in the morning when it's calm, before it gets really hot, and you just water.  It's peaceful.

So I guess the short version is, yes there are some older people who tragically keep working at advanced ages.  A few of them are just working to work, many are not.

And there are some crappy jobs that are a lot of fun if you don't depend on the wages from them to live.  I kind of plan on getting a bull shit job when I'm formally retired, at least for a while.  I wouldn't mind working at Lowe's again if I had a place with a table saw to learn some new skills.

Hobby stores, specialty stores, etc. tend to afford a lot more of this.  Like I could work at a Best Buy and find the job interesting.  But a soulless generic retailer sucks.

Though Wal-mart wouldn't be so bad if it were a regular store and not a supercenter I think, and it would be worlds better if you didn't really need the money.

oldtoyota

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Re: Elderly folks working low paying retail jobs
« Reply #18 on: September 23, 2013, 01:48:35 PM »
Lals--Many good points. I would personally not work at a Walmart for fun. I'd want to be in a specialized store that matches my interests. If I ever did work retail again, I'd want the store to be relatively small too. Walmart is too big and too smelly for me. All that off gassing! Ugh.


LalsConstant

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Re: Elderly folks working low paying retail jobs
« Reply #19 on: September 23, 2013, 02:04:35 PM »
Lals--Many good points. I would personally not work at a Walmart for fun. I'd want to be in a specialized store that matches my interests. If I ever did work retail again, I'd want the store to be relatively small too. Walmart is too big and too smelly for me. All that off gassing! Ugh.

WalMart could be okay if you worked in a specific department.  Not Toys LOL toys sucks.

I did the sporting goods department for a while and it was much more pleasant to discuss coolers and rifles with a bunch of guys buying big boy toys than it was to stock housewares.

sisca

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Re: Elderly folks working low paying retail jobs
« Reply #20 on: September 23, 2013, 04:49:04 PM »
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-09-23/why-100-000-salary-may-yield-retirement-flipping-burgers.html

Great, and sad, story on Bloomberg on this today. Met Tom, former executive earning 100+ a year, now at 77 doing two part time jobs to make ends meet.

Zamboni

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Re: Elderly folks working low paying retail jobs
« Reply #21 on: September 23, 2013, 08:26:34 PM »
^Thank you for the link.  The stats in that were scary!

"Yet 59 percent of households headed by people 65 and older currently have no retirement account assets, according to Federal Reserve data analyzed by the National Institute on Retirement Security."

"The median 401(k) balance for households headed by people aged 55 to 64 who had retirement accounts at work was $120,000 in 2011, according to the Center for Retirement Research"

Egad!

There was an older man, about 70, who I wouldn't mind imitating.  He worked part time in Tool World, and his job just kicked all sorts of ass.  All he did was talk about tools all day, and he got to play with the newest things.  He would take his earnings, go buy materials and tools on his employee discount, and go home and just make random stuff.

I think that same guy or his clone helped me buy a pocket knife, and yes he (and everyone like him, including the old guy who "works" the ammo booth at my local hunting club) clearly loves his job.  I've never thought twice about folks in those types of jobs.  You can just tell that they want to be there shooting the breeze with people.

Heck, my doctor worked until he was 77 and expired basically on the job.  I am glad people who have found their calling in life can keep working, but the people I'm talking about definitely do not appear to enjoy working.

Hedge_87

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Re: Elderly folks working low paying retail jobs
« Reply #22 on: September 30, 2013, 12:00:00 PM »
The people working might not be 100% to blame. Looking at some older people I know. One owned he own business raised 4 kids three of which turned out to be independent a done who even though he s I his 50's just can't get his act together. This guy has started and failed three different business ventures and has always been so far in the hole that without substantial financial aid from mom and dad would have been facing bankruptcy. I asked the old man why he keeps bailing him out a due got offended and said that's my son it's my job to help him when he needs it. Say what you will but in his mind it was the right call to help him out. Now he is in his 70 and hardly able to move but still has to go to work everyday.
Another guy I know supported a wife battling cancer for 12 years. He  owned his ow business and was very successful. However lost a lot of available business from having to deal with a sick wife. He also developed a severe drinking problem after her passing. During that time he bunt through almost all of his life saving. After almost drinking himself to death and being hospitalized for several weeks he has quit drinking (this January will be a year sober). He still has to work part time. If you ask him he would say that beside the whole drinking binge that giving up a good retirement to spend as much time as he could with his wife was the right decision.
Not to say things couldn't have been done differently but there're many different situations that could be in play

MrsPete

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Re: Elderly folks working low paying retail jobs
« Reply #23 on: October 01, 2013, 01:20:09 PM »
Here's how my husband and I see it:  We don't necessary mind the idea of part-time work (or, better yet, seasonal work) after we're retired . . . but we don't want it to be a necessity.  If we choose to work, we want it to be for "fun money" or just because we see another perk in the job.  We don't want to have to get up early and do a job that's taxing so we can pay the electric bill. 

Zamboni

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Re: Elderly folks working low paying retail jobs
« Reply #24 on: October 01, 2013, 05:13:44 PM »
Hedge_87:  You are right, I'm sure there are all kinds of reasons this happens.  But shouldn't the children be taking care of the father at this point?  In Asia there would be tremendous shame on this family for this elderly man having to work to support the mistakes of his adult son. 

Perhaps folks somehow don't get maximum social security, or they can't live on that amount? (Which is ~$2500 in the US right now and not being able to live on that boggles my mind, but I hear it routinely.)

MrsPete:  I'm with you, and I try to overcompensate by saving more now than I think I'll need.

Hedge_87

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Re: Elderly folks working low paying retail jobs
« Reply #25 on: October 02, 2013, 07:31:16 AM »
Yes the family's should be helping out. I'm very close to both family's and they do help out a lot. However knowing the two older gentalman I mentioned there is only so much help they would accept anyways. They both are very independent and maybe a little stubborn. So any assistance has to be tactfully given. For instance they both have handy capped parking stickers because neither can get around very good. However they both refuse to use them. When asked about this, one said "I'm old dammit! I'm not dead. The day I get front row parking will be out front of the church and your going to have to carry me to that car". He believes those spots are for people who "actually need them" little old lady's ,wheel chair bond individuals, etc

ritchie70

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Re: Elderly folks working low paying retail jobs
« Reply #26 on: October 09, 2013, 10:22:36 PM »
I worked with a guy who retired a few years ago at around 60 I think. He claimed for years prior that after he retired from the office job he wanted to get a job at Home Depot.

He'd done trades/mechanical work in his younger years, including things like installing gas pumps.

Honestly, I agreed with him. I think I could happily work a couple shifts a week at Home Depot and otherwise be retired.