It was a lovely day, bright and cheerful; blue skies and cool winds, the earth seemed full of life and wonder – ever ready for man’s next adventure. Well… it was like that for most people; the fatigued looking, middle aged man hunched over the corner table in the café did not appear to agree. The smart little café was located in a premier spot right in front of Tradefairre Industries Ltd.’s posh head office in Islamabad and was decorated in sleek greys and nudes with pleather seats and modernistic booths.
The man seemed even more out of place when compared to the modern setting and the young professionals dressed up in formals, constantly bustling in and out the café’, talking in a fast English-Urdu mix interspersed with frequent checks of their smart phones. He was wearing Shalwar Kameez in a sober brown paired with a formal coat, he had an old school briefcase with him which he had propped up next to his seat and there were 5 empty cups on the table in front of him. He looked neat except for his hair which he appeared to have been running his hands through in agitation and his eyes had large black circles underneath them which exacerbated his haggard appearance. As he sat he ran his hand through hair again in quick agitated movement and let out loud sigh, motioning to the waiters with his free hand.
In the background two waiters could be heard arguing in fierce whispers. “I am not approaching him again! I did it the last three times; you deal with him now!”, Faisal insisted. “But Faisal the Manager said that since he’s been sitting here for the past four hours, we have to get rid of him; and he’s so intimidating with that scowl on his face.” Said Amir. “Deal with it.” Stated Faisal with finality and turned away.
With a gulp Amir the waiter apprehensively came up to the man and said, “Would you like anything else sir? The bill perhaps?”
Quickly the man’s expression turned thunderous and pushing back his chair stood up and shouted, ”What, so I am not even welcome anywhere as a paying customer anymore?! Fine! I get it, I’ll get lost, shall I.” Saying this he picked up his possessions in bundle into his arms and putting a hand in his pocket he flung a rupees thousand note at the stunned and speechless waiters face and stormed out leaving Amir sputtering to form apologies.
The reason for the man’s anger lay in the endless barrage of hurdles he had to overcome in the past six months. At the start of the year he had been let go by Tradefairre Ltd where he had worked for 12 years. Due to a merger with another company his job as the Chief Marketing Officer had been terminated in favor of younger replacement. Appalled and frustrated at the injustice he had nonetheless been resigned and resolved himself to a positive outlook and looking for a new job. He had expected to get rehired pretty quickly; especially with his 32 years of field experience but to his dismay he faced rejection after rejection. Can you imagine the reason for this parade of failure? He was OVERqualified. Overqualified!!! What does that even mean?! He asks himself. He is 56 year old and the father of three children, two of whom are still studying whilst his eldest daughter is fast approaching her wedding date. Over the months he has thought of and discarded dozens of business ideas. His wife Noor has been endlessly supportive and understanding but even her patience is wearing thin since she now has the family’s financial burden solely on her shoulders. The past month alone they have had three fights over inconsequential matters. And it not just the financial problems; he just doesn’t know what to do with himself now that he’s free all day. Candy crush has become his crutch; he goes online and looks for freelancing work but it is so hard to find any decent paying work that he was getting more depresses by the day. In fact the day of the café’ incident he had had a fight with his wife and she had shouted at him to get out.
Back to the present: after he stormed out of the café; he walks around lost in rage hardly noticing where he is going until he looks up and realizes that he has subconsciously come to Tehzeeb Bakers; a place which holds a lot of good memories for him. This is where his family comes every Eid regardless of any other plans they may have. His kids always buy the Ice cream first and his wife gets cookies, her favorite is chocolate chip… they haven’t come this year due to his situation. The anger drains away and in its place is left emptiness and an ache of helplessness. He turns away feeling defeated, when he sees someone he knows.
“Umar”, he shouts and the man turns towards the shout. This is his once close friend Umar who he fell out of touch with until recently when he found him on Facebook and they restarted their acquaintance.
The man runs toward Umar and is out of breath when he reaches him; Umar smiles at the sight and greets him with a Salam. Umar asks the man, “How are you Asfand? Are you here with your family?”
“Fine, fine.” The man replies breathlessly. “And No I am not, I just wanted to ask you something, I was going to call you but since I saw you I figured I would say it in person.”
“What did you want to ask?” Umar inquired curiously.
“I have a new project I am starting with some of my friends and I wanted to invite you to a meeting to discuss it. I want to start an online marketing company; we will talk more in detail at the meeting, so will you attend?” said Asfand.
Umar seemed uncertain but he said, “I will come, when is it?”
Asfand grinned and said, “I will send you the details on Facebook, now enough business, come and meet my family.”
Little did Asfand realize the full impact this on the spot decision would have on his life; that this meeting would be the start of his journey of discovery and the path of his success? While Asfand was the one who initiated the project his expertise and professional portfolio combined with Umar’s contacts and networking is ultimately what got their fledgling company of the ground and allowed their initial success to snowball into the multimillion dollar company it is today.
Compared to younger job-seekers, older adults receive fewer job offers, search for work weeks longer and are less likely to find re-employment after losing a job, according to U.S. government data analyzed by Georgia Institute of Technology’s School of Psychology and University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management. The study was published by the journal Psychological Bulletin. This finding has proved true in Pakistan as well.
Employers must consider “OVERQUALIFIED” candidates if they want results. The age discrimination has become another kind of discrimination in our society which is causing frustration for older people.
Generally the HR department does not want to employ and old person as it seems they do not value the experience. This is high time that we should give value to experience if the person otherwise is qualified.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.