– We shall work till we die as the scales of the times demand
I’VE known friends of the family who complained years ago that they can’t retire in their new home overseas. Some contemplated that the only workable scenario was to retire overseas and then re-migrate; the exchange would then suffice. These were people who had retired in Guyana and left unknown to my awareness to find jobs abroad because 55 years old was a man or woman in their physical and mental prime. We had adopted a system from the British that was undermining us all the way; we were casting institutional knowledge out of the window to be reinvented, and thus the same errors were being made every 30 years. The drudgery of indifference in administrating the collective well-being of the working class was the philosophy inherited; thus, the fate of the retiree in many cases was subject to ‘watchman’ jobs and subject to the unscrupulous conduct of odd characters who offered that service, that, of course, constitutes an entire narrative of its own. With the rise of crime and with paying jobs becoming hard to obtain, this was a social reality that was constant from the 1860s onward and got worse in the mid-1970s after the oil crisis that I wrote about in February past. As a young man I can remember conversations of some friends who spoke of their father coming home every day from work on his “big-Ben” bicycle and still there were always shortages, quarrels and the occasional domestic fights, I said fights because those women were far from walkovers.
The elder young males and girls were easily dragged out-of-school and thrown into whichever workforce to help out; thus, options were weighed and alternative income was decided upon. The late ‘60s and early ‘70s produced the then social retaliation to the generation’s poverty inheritance; a breed of young men became the other class, contrary to the norm of learning a trade and obtaining a job with a little workshop to take in jobs. These were youth who rode the popular 65cc motorcycles and snatched payrolls. A couple of these guys are senior now, but a few are still around; they were the grassroots answer to a tough situation that required tough answers, but they were not the conclusion, institutions such as the Guyana Youth Corps, the National Service and the development of the co-operative groups produced a far-reaching arsenal of life-skill tools that are subject to recovery. It’s that generation and why many of them will not be able to retire that we’ve arrived at now.
When I first rented, let’s say live ‘bachie,’ the environment held a mattress, or rather a new mattress sponge wrapped in a sheet, a portable hanging wardrobe-Suit bag, suit travel bag, as the new titles range. These protected the threads from insects using them as their bathroom, playfield and of course a medium transistor radio to hear the Thursday night oldies, news and local radio drama. In the ‘70s there were no TVs, no cellphones, no internet, Netflix was at Globe, Strand, Metropole, Rio, etc. So in that simpler time, the rest of stuff came in most cases when the home-building revolution entered the ‘bachie.’ I’m talking about the girlfriend at that age of not-so-much innocence. You’ll not buy the next pair of Clarkes, you’ll put down on a solid bed at Fogarty’s, then grumbling you’ll be bullied into buying nice sheets, fewer picnics at Profitt’s place and Carib Front and that’s how in many cases how it began, a life of responsibility. Today the average young person is naturally mesmerised by where technology in a miraculous speed has taken us, way beyond our economic means. We’re no longer competing with the ‘Joneses,’ we’re competing with the IBMs, the DELLs, the categories of GTT’s Blaze, and 100 other names we really can’t compete with as a nation, much less as individuals. Even if you’re an Artisan retiree resurrecting a passion of owning a small exclusive furniture establishment, you need to put your stuff on social media, so you need a smartphone or a laptop, soon you’ll learn about the levels of following expenses, virus protection, etc. Don’t for one moment think that I’m bashing technology, it has enhanced everything, but it has commanded big changes.
Then most of the children aren’t following our example of renting a room and establishing territory. They’re still at home, they want independence, but the rent-a-room idea is not too good for the naive, unexposed young women, and the young men want what seems to be the illusionary ‘Living Kit’ of our age. They do not want to rent a ‘Bachie,’ that term revolves around a Spartan challenge. They want a ‘Crib,’ because like babies they need to lean on mom and dad who are faced with a world of more bills, and a new set of skill tools, for the customary ‘after retirement’ in this age ‘New career’ this topic needs more attention.