I only subscribe to the newspaper on the weekends and, since the Saturday edition is never very large or exciting, I savor the Sunday paper. Usually over a cup of coffee and with the help of a cat or two.
I’m a fairly traditional newspaper reader. I start with the front page (unless someone else gets it first) and move through the sections in order, saving the magazine section and comics for the end.
I’m not usually a fan of comics, but there something about the colored Sunday ones. Plus it’s the only day the local paper has my favorite, Mutts.
Today my newspaper was ruined by two realizations that I am getting old.
The first insight came when I was scanning the classifieds, specifically the help wanted section.
I’m not looking for a job and I don’t usually read the help wanted ads in earnest, but every once in a while I glance at them to see what’s out there. Just checking out what kind of jobs are out there if I was looking.
I remember when I’d read the help wanted because I did need a job, or want a new one at least. I would go through the list and think, “I can do that” or “that might be a good one” about almost every listing. Retail, office work, I wasn’t picky.
But as I read through the ads today I realized that I wouldn’t want to do any of them, and if I did apply, most of the employers would label me “overqualified.”
When did I turn into one of those people who need networks and headhunters to find a job? When did my job turn into a career?
I suppose most people would think of it as a good thing. I’m skilled. I have a specialty. Isn’t that the goal when you graduate from college?
But instead of making me feel smart and successful, I felt like I have fewer options. I would no longer be content working in the type of jobs advertised in the newspaper. And I couldn’t live on what those jobs pay.
If I needed to find a job today, I wouldn’t know where to start. I didn’t see a single ad looking for an arts administrator. What would I do?
I’m exaggerating a bit. I do know where to find arts administrator jobs listings on the internet and I do know some people who could help, but there’s something reassuring about looking at the help wanted and knowing that you could be content doing most any job found there.
I felt infinitely old know that I didn’t have the safety net of the help wanted section if I decided to move on from my current position.
I eventually recovered from my shock and moved on to read the life and leisure section. After the comics, this is my favorite part of the newspaper.
There are three reasons I like this section:
Miss Manners. I love how the writer of the column responds to stupid questions. She’s almost rude, but in that fake polite way where you can’t say she’s rude because it still sounds polite. But she really puts people in their place.
Today, someone was complaining that their college age son was studying too much and wasn’t paying enough attention to his family.
Miss Manners told the parent that first of all most kids don’t live at home in college and s/he should enjoy the fact the son was nearby. And that the kid was studying, for crying out loud, so s/he shouldn’t complain.
Take that, whiney parent!
Book lists. My paper doesn’t print very extensive book lists, the top ten in a handful of categories. I like to see how many I’ve read (Six on the quality paperback list today!) and what the popular hardcover books are for the week.
Sometimes there’s even an interview with an author, although usually it’s a filmmaker or someone like that instead.
Weddings and Births. I don’t know why I like to read these announcements. I’m not a wedding person. In fact, I kind of consider weddings a big waste of money. I always said that if I got married, I’d wear jeans. And the only things I’d splurge on are flowers and music.
But the announcements are fun to read. I like the details about what the bride wore and who the groomsmen were. And I like to look at the pictures and guess what the people do for living. Which groom is an auto mechanic and which bride is a teacher.
Once in a while I actually know a person, too.
As I was reading today, I realized that I hadn’t recognized a name in the births or weddings for quite a while.
I expressed this out loud and my mother replied that maybe I knew some of their parents.
The parents of the newlyweds or new parents?
At first I dismissed the idea. I wasn’t possibly old enough to know someone who’s children were getting married and having their children.
Then I did the math. If people I went to high school with had a child at 20, and that child got married or had their own kid at 20… Holy Mother of God, I’m old enough to be a grandparent!
And even worse I could be a grandparent without the trauma and stigma of a teen pregnancy. In either generation!
I don’t know if I’ve been oblivious to this fact because I haven’t gotten married or had kids or if I’ve just been in denial, but somehow it snuck up on me.
Granted 20 is still pretty young to be getting married and having kids. Most of the people I know waited until after college and then waited a few more to have children, so they have preschool or elementary aged kids, not high schoolers or college students.
But the fact remains that some of my contemporaries could be grandparents soon.
Maybe it’s time to give up my newspaper subscription.