Ever notice that we’re helping people live longer, but throwing them away sooner?
Meaning that, in our society’s worship of youth, the finding of “too old” keeps getting younger and younger.
Lest you think I’m just being curmudegeonly (and, of course, I am), it matters: remember that Obama aide who was crowing about how easy it was for the White House to manipulate its press corps, made up of “27-year-olds who’ve only covered the campaign and never been anywhere”?
I can’t count how many talented, capable people I know who worry that after 50, or even after 40, they will have difficulty getting (re)hired. It’s crazy.
And yet, we seem to genuinely love stories like the graceful retirement of Vin Scully, after 67 years of calling Dodgers baseball on radio and TV. Almost every sports fan will miss him; hardly any think it’s “about time” he got out of the way.
Or the much-lauded retirement of Red Sox slugger David Ortiz—in his twentieth and final major league season, he’s had his best one. Maybe the best final season anyone’s ever had.
Phil Coyne is 98, and has been a Pittsburgh Pirates stadium usher since 1936.
FDR’s first term. Half a decade before Pearl Harbor. Before TV. Before the DH.
‘”When will it be time to stop going? “As long as your mind is straight, you’re all right, and that can go at any time. I could have a fall tomorrow and get a good bump and that would be it. So you never know. You just have to wait until next April to see if your legs are all right and your mind is all right, and you sign up,” he says.
‘”They’re hoping to see me back. That goes on every year,” says Coyne, who likes to say he has two Oreos and a glass of milk before bed each night. “And I surprise them every year, too. I surprise them coming back. I tell people as long as I don’t go to Heinz Field for a game that’s being played at PNC Park, I’ll be back.”‘
A man like Phil is indispensable.
And not disposable.