Lots of interesting email. Here’s a salty one:
I’ve seen this over and over again in my line of work (computers and engineering). I’ve also been reading versions of this sob story for half my life. You can translate “dignity and challenge” to “punch in at 9 and punch out at 5 for $100k”. The vast majority of these cases are men who got very comfortable with a big salary and *little* to *no* responsibility. They sit at the very lowest levels of an organization but are pulling salaries 3 or 4 times (with benefits!) than 25 yr-olds doing equivalent work. They have 20 yr-old skill sets and shirk responsibility and risk at every opportunity. And, in many cases, they are the biggest complainers. About everything. When someone wises up and “downsizes” them, they sit at home complaining about not being able to find the same dignity and challenge. Uh-huh.
Granted, I’m painting with a broad brush. But I’ve been surrounded with this crap since I got out of college. I lost sympathy long ago.
Me: Probably because I’ve lived in DC most of my adult life, my experience with the sort of men described above has mostly come second-hand from people working in government, either in the civil service beaucracy or in government contracting (and, of course, PBS!). I think this reader indeed is speaking with a broad brush — and I think other things are going on in the culture as well. But this does ring more than a little true when compared to the stories I’ve heard from friends and acquaintances in the public sector.