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doing and begin to work less? Jason explored these options and came
back with an idea:
“I found out that we have an early retirement plan where you can get your pen-
sion and social security and still work for 5 years up to 50% of the time and get
paid using your current salary and benefit levels as a base. At the end of the
5-year period, you can work part-time but at a lower salary rate. I think I could
do that, and maybe it would help me deal with retirement. The problem is that I
don't want to keep teaching, so I went to my chair and discussed the plan. He
wants me to spend the 50% time creating new curricula and trying to deal with
the problem of too many poor students in the department. He doesn't think we
have enough diversity and he wants to see more idealistic students and faculty.
Everyone was feeling the same way I did, he told me, which was a great surprise
to me. He said that the reason I was passed over for the chair's position had noth-
ing to do with me or the faculty. The faculty wanted me but the administration
wanted someone younger. It pissed me off to find out about ageism, but I had
originally thought it was because they didn't like me. Having 5 years to ease
myself into retirement would give me time to write books and to do some traveling.
I live alone, and maybe it's time to find someone who can offer companionship
and intimacy. I've put off those needs since I divorced 20 years ago, and I feel
very lonely at times.”
The counselor thought his idea was a good one and wondered how
he might find someone to be in his life. “I was reading a mystery novel
by the Swedish writer Henning Mankell called Firewall (1998),” he said.
“His main character, a cop called Kurt Wallander, is like me: lonely and
set in his ways but in need of someone in his life. The detective uses a
dating service and finds someone. I started thinking about women who
have given me some indication that they are interested in me. Maybe I'll
just follow up and see if I can find someone that way. I don't think I
could ever use a dating service at my age, so we'll see. And I need to start
going to our national conferences. I met my wife that way and we did
pretty well for almost 20 years; not bad in this day and age.”
What to Do if You Experience Burnout or are Forced to Retire
Older workers often have little choice in whether they continue working
full-time. As Mor-Barak and Tynan (1993) point out, “Despite this inter-
est in continued employment by employers and older adults, older work-
ers are more likely to lose their jobs than younger workers in instances
such as plant closings and corporate mergers ( Beckett, 1988 )” (p. 45).
The authors go on to say that many businesses can't or won't deal with
life events faced by older workers such as “widowhood and caring for
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