Oldtimers Still Needed

The first time someone called me an “oldtimer,” I sort of took offense. But then I thought about it a little more and I was pretty proud of the fact. In 2004, I recorded 25 years with this newspaper company. Now with 32 years under my belt, I guess I fit into the “senior” staff writer category.

A few weeks ago some of those in the oldtimers’ group from the newspaper were treated to lunch on the boss. And during the luncheon, it was pointed out that reporter-photographer Art Limann had just marked 40 years with the company. Forty years is nearly twice the age of some of our reporters.

In decades gone by, it was quite common for workers to spend a lifetime in one career. Coal miners, mill workers, doctors, teachers, it didn’t matter what you did, you stayed with it.

Not so true today. It’s not unusual to read a resume of a 30-year-old who has three or four jobs listed between the cover letter and final page of his bio. That goes hand in hand with the fast pace of technology, the rise and fall of the manufacturing industry in this country and the need to keep up with the rest of the world in product development.

Five years ago, GPS systems were being developed to guide us around the world with the touch of a button. Sounded crazy and complicated to me and now I can’t drive to Pittsburgh without one.

Our newspapers were once created through a complicated process from typewriter to paste-up. Now a few clicks of the mouse and push of a button transmits words to pages to be printed.

For someone who still owns a rotary phone, the advancement of cell phones keeps me running to learn about the latest model. Wasn’t it easier to dial CE-3 and the rest of the digits? The phone companies did away with all those letter prefixes only to expect me to send text messages with the same letter-number combinations! We’ve come full circle in Ma Bell’s world if you ask me.

The advancements made during my lifetime to date are far more sophisticated than manual to electric typewriter. Now you can just talk into a computer and it composes your letter or term paper.

And as for those new do-everything-but-wash-the-dog cell phones, I see that you can now send money from your bank to someone else’s bank account all through your phone. That blows my mind and scares me to death, too.

I get uncomfortable around technology I do not understand and sometimes I think we move faster than we need to just to pay a bill.

Some people I have known and admired have done the same jobs day in and day out for 20, 30, even 50 years and could not fathom doing anything else. That’s why retired football players become coaches or sports commentators.

Today there are so many uncertainties about the future that just having a job is reason to celebrate. Hats off to those who get up every day and make the daily grind a daily adventure.

Heather Ziegler can be reached via e-mail at ziegler@theintelligencer.