Views on politics and current events

Thursday, November 02, 2006

I'm A Bradult Too?

A blogger with some definite opinions about your truly. The original post can be found here. I include the original post in plain text, my reply is in italics:

No one in America should feel more blessed by the Warhol syndrome – our 15 minutes of undeserved fame – than Alan Beggerow. You might remember Mr. Beggerow from his front page appearance in the July 31, 2006 edition of the New York Times (Times Select subscription required). The article’s title is, “Men Not Working, And Not Wanting Just Any Job.”

Blessed? Do you think I agreed to the Times interview to promote myself, or out of some sense of ego? No, I was approached to do the interview and I have some definite feelings about the changed workplace. That was my motivation. 15 minutes of fame, or a lifetime of anonymity are all the same to me.

The Times, attempting to portray a growing underclass of unemployed workers victimized by compassionless big business, made Beggerow its poster boy. Having worked for 30 years as a union steelworker, Mr. Beggerow found himself, at age 53, unemployed, his mill closed. But instead of finding another job, any job, to put food on his table, Beggerow used his layoff as an excuse to retire to a life of unproductive leisure.

Are you certain that my life is full of ‘unproductive leisure’? You seem to know a lot of my daily activities by reading a short article and a short TV interview.

While one’s initial reaction to Beggerow might be sympathy, what is revealed in the NYT article is a level of personal immaturity best described as self-determined emotional adolescence. Listen to his adolescent-like irresponsibility as he defends his refusal to pursue a mature course in life.

So, after 30 years of working 10-12 hrs a day, swing shift, in a steel mill in NW Illinois, I am now considered immature and irresponsible because I have chosen to live on a shoestring and accept retirement because of the present situation within the workplace? As for sympathy, I have no need of yours or anyone elses. There’s a lot of folks in worse shape than me.

''I have come to realize that my free time is worth a lot to me,'' he said. To make ends meet, he has tapped the equity in his home through a $30,000 second mortgage, and he is drawing down the family's savings, at the rate of $7,500 a year. About $60,000 is left. His wife's income helps them scrape by. ''If things really get tight,'' Mr. Beggerow said, ''I might have to take a low-wage job, but I don't want to do that.''

In an accompanying audio interview on the NYT web site, Beggerow says he saw a want ad for a full-time graphic designer at a local newspaper and it interested him. He even said he was qualified. But then he confessed that the job wouldn’t afford him the creative free time to which he had become addicted. So he chose not to pursue the job opportunity.

My free time is very valuable to me. What is so heinous about saying that? It makes no difference any more how valuable my time is to anyone else. I have spent 30 years working very hard. I exchanged those years for wages and benefits. I now choose to make my way differently.

Last Friday ABC-TV’s 20/20 gave Mr. Beggerow an extension on his 15 minutes of fame, featuring him on a segment about laziness. Again, as he did with the NYT, Beggerow proclaimed himself the renaissance man who has made the mature decision to pursue quality of life instead of materialism brought by earned income. For this we are supposed to applaud him. Reality? Alan Beggerow is a bradult; an adult brat. At age 53 he embodies all the classic signs of an adolescent.

Keep your applause for ones you deem worthy of it. I have no use for it. As for your accusation on adolescent behavior and your term bradult, you are entitled to your opinion on that. This quote from your profile “The lessons about human nature that Ron learned from these youth provide him with the principles he shares with corporations worldwide. His expertise is on the role that employee behavior plays in work team dynamics, particularly people interaction.” Makes me wonder how much about adult human nature you are aware of. I worked as a problem solving team facilitator and coordinator the last 3 years in the mill, worked directly with over 50 teams. While I have no degree or diploma,I had a world of experience in those three years, and 27 years in the plant, to know that most people that have spent most of their lives working for a living are not adolescents. Perhaps if you had the actual work experience I have, you would see things differently.

Sociologists define adolescence as the pursuit of two questions: “Who am I?,” and, “Who will I be?” Men like Mr. Beggerow beg that a third question be added: “When will I be?” Clearly, he has not grown past emotional adolescence because he’s still seeking answers to the fundamental questions asked by them.

Again, because I have chosen a different path because of workplace changes I do not agree with, I am immature? I have not answered the essential questions as defined by you? Actually, I have answered those questions, but I doubt you would understand or agree.

The immaturity of adolescents is characterized, among other things, by unrealistic expectations of what is due them, postponement of long term good for temporal fulfillment, and irrational thinking designed to excuse the pursuit of responsible behavior.

I worked 30 years in a steel mill, so my pension is an unrealistic expectation? I saved what money I could, and these funds are assisting my chosen lifestyle. Is that an unrealistic expectation? I paid into SS for over 30 years, and when I reach the qualifying age, is it an unreasonable expectation to think I should receive the benefit?

Welcome to the world of Mr. Beggerow, adult adolescent. He should be ashamed. One day, perhaps soon, when his financial resources run out and he finds it too late to get a job, he will become a burden to society. The 15 minutes of fame he now proudly possesses will turn into a till death load to the taxpayer.

I have no need to feel any shame for what I have done, what I have worked for, and what I think I am entitled to. My wife and I live very frugally to preserve our funds as long as possible. It is already too late for me to get many jobs due to my age, previous union affiliation, and various physical problems I have. If you really understood the plight of worn out laborers of my age, you might understand that. So go ahead and pat yourself on the back for being ‘productive’, and label me a burden to society. Make your remarks about 15 minutes of fame that is inconsequential, and worry about the poor taxpayers that will have to take care of me til death. You have no understanding of the situation, you have but extended the myths that the NY Times article was investigating, and you are perpetuating the ‘Great American Work Ethic’ of a bygone era. For many, that work ethic no longer applies because of globalisation, poor economy, etc.

If you’re interested in actually learning about me further, here is a link to a post on my blog:Random Thoughts. I invite you to explore other things I have written there that may give you further insight. That is, if you’re interested. If you’ve already made up your mind about me, by all means don’t bother.

The Bradult,

Alan Beggerow


thesolitudeone said...

I recently viewed your spot on 20/20 and discovered that people who feel a need to continue working after making enough to survive on must be jealous of folks like you who look at life in a different way. I think they don't have the (you know what) to do what you are doing. I say - right on brother, leave the rat race behind.
When I saw the show on 20/20 I could relate to your life experience in a few ways. I myself worked in a steel mill for over 32 years. Unlike you, I lost my job when the new owners of the bankrupt company I worked for decided they could do better without me than with me (I also was #1 on the senority list in my department, I wonder if that had anything to do with them letting me go). I tell you I was worried at the time they let me go, but 3 years into my unexpected retirement and all I would tell them today if they asked would be, thank you, thank you, thank you. All of my bills are being paid, I am free to do so many things I never had time to do before. When you work in a steel mill like I did for the last 25 plus years on a swing shift your life is geared toward work. My only problem with my retirement is that I still am stuck wanting to stay up all night and sleep during the day (swing shifts will mess you up). Who needs the BMW's, Mercedes and Lexus's, my new F-150 does me fine and it's paid for. My credit card is paid off in full every month and my only debt is my home mortgage.
I wear the sloth badge prouldly and wish you well.

Alan Beggerow said...

Greetings, fellow sloth! Thanks for your comments. Indeed, shift work is tough. It takes its toll, especially when the way we workedwas change shifts every week. I did that for 27 years, worked the day shift for the final 3 years.

I'm finding that I have many physical 'souveniers' from my steelworking life, like a ruptured disc in my neck, two bad knees, arthritis in my hands. I just plain can't do the physical work I used to, and I'm but 54 years old. I guess it's a case of if you haven't been there, you really don't understand. But you've been there, and it's good to hear you're getting by.

Good luck to you, and keep on enjoying your retirement from the rat race. You've earned it!

Teri said...

Yep, it's easy to say that you should be out working when the person talking is in their 30s. I see too many older guys in call centers that used to have better jobs. It's a shame.

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