Friday 30 Sep 2016

Elderly Workers
AJ Robinson

The other day, my wife and I were in a local Target store to pick up a few things. Times are tough, and we can’t afford the expensive, fancy stores. When a chain store has stuff on sale, we go there.

Once we got all that we needed, we headed to the checkout line, and that’s where we saw her, the old woman. She wasn’t in line to buy something; no, she was our cashier. Now, I’ve seen older people working at fast food joints, Wal-Mart, Sears, local hardware stores, and so on. Seeing a woman like this was nothing new.

Yet, this elderly woman was different.

She was quite tiny, barely five feet tall. She wasn’t very strong, her arms were thin, her muscle tone weak and she had trouble lifting some of the bigger items. She was also old, far older than any other elderly woman or man I’d seen working in a store. Her face was deeply lined; her hands bony; her arms flaccid and wrinkled; her hair white as paper. Looking at her, I’d have guessed her age to be easily late seventies, maybe even in her eighties.

My mom is eighty-five. She doesn’t work; she has enough money, through hard work, saving, and inheritances, that she can live comfortably for the rest of her life. Yet, looking at this dear old woman, I couldn’t help but think that save for the grace of gawd and a bit of luck, my mom could have been in her shoes.

These days, we hear all kinds of politicians and pundits telling us what’s wrong with America and what we need to fix it. I have to say, looking at this dear woman I got a clear image as to what’s wrong, and what needs fixing. When a woman, of her advance years, has to work and, let’s face it, there is no way she would be working if she didn’t have to, something is very wrong!

I have a real problem believing that giving the rich more and bigger tax cuts are going to help such a woman. I find it hard to believe that a voucher system for Medicare is going to improve her quality of life.

Until the day comes, I walk into Target and see that dear woman quit her job, because she no longer needs the money, this country still needs fixing. I think that’s the best symbol of who needs help around here.

Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.

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