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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Life is Demographics

One of you knows that this is one of my favorite sayings, reflective of the fact that societal tides can depend, to a certain degree, on the amount of population and the age of that population at a given time. For example, those of you born at the tail end of the Baby Boom know that early in your careers advancement wasn't all that easy, because you were caught behind relatively young front-end Boomers (i.e., those born after World War II in the late 1940's). Put differently, when you were in your mid-20's, they were about 40, with many years to go in their careers. While some have argued that Baby Boomers have enjoyed quite the gravy train career-wise, I would make an exception for back-end Boomers (i.e., those born between 1960-1964), many of whom had to more than wait their turn. Being a back-end Boomer, then, was like being the guy in the parade who carried the shovel behind the horse. Or, at least at times, so it seemed. The front-end Boomers, of course, encouraged your patience by emphasizing that at least you were in the parade.

Which got me to thinking the other day about the fact that many front-end Boomers will be retiring soon, either because they've decided too or they've been pushed into it (perhaps because they've grown too expensive for the jobs they currently hold and either have been asked to take a pay cut and refused or were lopped off in less ceremonious fashion (with the use of the word "lop" intended to connote horrible enemy practices in the Far Eastern Theatre of war during World War II). At any rate, some of these folks will have plenty of time on their hands and some money to spend. The question, then, is what will they do with it.

My prediction is that you'll see the fiercest competition ever for volunteer positions. I know of some senior citizens in their 70's who are docents at various museums. A docent, to the best of my knowledge, is a tour guide/teacher required to undergo somewhat vigorous training to tell groups about the art and artifacts that the museums where they volunteer hold. They take courses and get tested and then get anoninted if they qualify. The only problem, as I see it, is that the number of museums and docent positions cannot possibly grow by the same factor that these front-end Boomers will be joining the ranks of retirees. Since there will be much more supply than demand, the competition will intensify.

So, imagine the entrepeneurial activities that could emerge from this imbalance. In the same way that enterprising personal trainers formed an athlete performance center in Arizona to train would-be high-round NFL draft picks in ways to make them perform better at the NFL's Scouting Combine and thereby make themselves more attractive to teams, you could start a Volunteer Enhancement Performance Center. You'd attract some big-bucks front-end Boomers and whip them into shape, literally and figuratively. I think that people would pay big bucks for that.

Suppose you're about 20 pounds overweight, not tuned into docent fashion, do Sudoku books on the beach and only read novels that they sell at BJ's Wholesale Club. Perhaps you've worked hard enough to have missed the last 10+ years of popular television, and you're not strong on the arts and music. You want to make yourself presentable for a variety of volunteer opportunities, and the competition is tough. Go to our location in Arizona, and, as is popular in America, re-make yourself.

Shed those intimidating wide pinstripe suits and $100 ties for a tweedy look. Get rid of the funky haircut, shed the jewelry and make your appearance look humble. The center's wardrobe and personal appearance specialists will help you do just that -- and at any budget. The center's cultural consultants will prep you on hot conversational topics that those who interview candidates for the docent program should be able to speak about. The center's nutritionists will put you on a diet that will elevate your energy and help reduce your body fat (and even dare you to wear sleeveless Under Armour shirts durign your workouts!). Next, the center's fitness trainers will help you start an exercise program designed to lengthen your life and deny your heirs their rightful share of your amassed wealth -- the portion that they have earned by putting up with you. Finally, we'll give you training on how to write your application and how to cultivate the top civic leaders for recommendations (because, believe it or not, getting these posts will be tougher than getting your kid into the right pre-school in New York City). When you emerge, you'll look like the volunteer world's equivalent of JaMarcus Russell after he shed 10+ pounds for his personal workout at LSU -- a veritable #1 pick overall.

The competition is fierce, after all, and you don't want to be left doing the "B" list volunteer stuff, do you, because that's not what high-end white-collar front-end Baby Boomer retirees will settle for. After all, you'd rather not go to the beach at the New Jersey shore at all, for example, than go to a shore town where your former assistants hang out, would you, the types with the bars with the neon martini glasses and high school kids whose underwear shows cruising the streets at 2 a.m.? So why settle for anything but the best and then be in volunteer hell?

Where nobody notices you. Where your neighbors won't nod with approval that your working at an art museum or university museum, because you're only visiting with sick ninety year-olds at a state-run nursing home, giving them comfort because they've outlived their relatives or their closest family can't afford to visit that frequently from their homes in Dubuque and Peoria. You wouldn't want that, would you? Where's the cache, man?

Then again, what ways could front-end Boomers try to make more room for themselves. Perhaps when they populate some of these positions they'll start requiring annual fitness tests for the septagenarians and octagenarians on the roster and even require them to partake in a "Senior Docents Track Meet." That's surely one way to trim the docent population of the fat, isn't it? The philosophers among them will relish the fact that they've thought of a Malthusian solution, a convenient way short of Shirley Jackson's "Lottery" to make room for potentially more robust docents.

So, as the world braces for the retirement of front-end Boomers, watch the volunteer world closely. It could be a better sport than watching Pro Wrestling in the Hulk Hogan era or an NHL game featuring Ottawa and Buffalo (where the goalies actually took off the gloves!). After all, just because you're retiring from your job doesn't mean that you're retiring from life. There's more status to be gained, but you must think carefully and plan ahead. As has been said many times, you do need something to retire to.

So look for my performance center for potential prestigious volunteers some day soon.

You'll be glad you did.


Blogger Escort81 said...

Yo SportsProf, that was pretty harsh. Well-written and biting satire and sarcasm, keep it up!

2:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fuck Sean May.

5:24 PM  

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