Retiring Baby Boomer Attributes Success to “Not Trusting Anybody Under 50”
When Ray Garibedes was growing up in the 1960’s, his generation’s mantra was the collective sneer of “Don’t trust anybody over 30.” Teachers, parents, the postman—anyone comfortably ensconced in adulthood--all were seen as part of an oppressive and out-of-touch majority that devalued, mocked, bullied and drafted the idealistic young people of the era. Of course, the times they have a-changed.
Garibedes, of Santa Clarita, California, is riding the first wave of the Baby Boom generation to retire early in 2011. And while he once thought that he would be doing “much better at 65 than I am,” he admits having more to look forward to than most retirees of his age group for one simple reason: he has never trusted anyone under the age of 50.
“I knew from the get-go what a lame ass I was,” Garibedes says. “So when I Iooked around at my peers, it occurred to me that the really successful young people (outside of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones) weren’t dropping acid or dancing around naked singing whale songs,” he said. “They actually got jobs, working for people who were fifty or older.”
A case in point is Garibedes’ best friend from high school, Ted “Saffron” Brewster, who went from being an honors student-whiz at math and science to smoking pot, making speed in his garage, and taking credit for ending the war in Southeast Asia. Brewster now holds firm to his core hippie ideals from a chair in an assisted living facility near Victorville, where he’s lived since 1996. “He for sure didn’t trust anyone over thirty,” Garibedes said, shaking his head. “What he really should have been looking out for is the guys who were 18-49. That’s one ruthless, entitled group of prick bastards.”
Indeed, statistics confirm that the highest percentage of arrogant, narcissistic, and predatory personality types reside in the age group born between 1966 and 1993, a group that now essentially runs ever major institution in the world. “Oh, sure, there are guys over 50 who play key roles in banking, business, and cultural institutions, but they’re scared to death of the guys coming up behind them,” Garibedes claims. “I’m one of them. That’s why I‘m getting out now.”
Garibedes was lucky enough to find mentors in the 50-and-older bracket, men and women who had lived through a World War and America’s most prosperous and optimistic decades as a respected and innovative world power. “These were guys who could fix an out of control spacecraft from the ground with a Tinkertoy set. They knew how to think, and they knew they could be wrong so they had to listen, weigh, and consider all sides to a situation. But now, everybody’s right.
“They knew history, philosophy, and art—real Renaissance people—so they could learn from the mistakes of the past. But these young guys now—sheesh, they think WW2 is a wrestling show and Cambodia is a spa,” Garibedes said wearily. “They don’t get that they’re listening to the wrong people, if they know how to listen at all.”
In earlier times, older employees were seen as the holders of institutional history, solid reasoning, and a vast reservoir of experience that would carry companies through the inevitable changes of business, shifting politics and international conflicts. But a new survey by the Pew Institute shows that most people between the ages of 20 and 50 get most of their information from other people of their own age group, who get their information from Wikipedia, fringe blogs, and The Daily Show. In fact, 75% of that age group in the survey believes that irony is more important than reason. 68% believe that personal happiness is defined by “ownership of expensive entertainment centers” and “less than 3% body fat.” Some 38% of respondents said that proving a thesis is less important than “vanquishing and humiliating” someone else’s. And a whopping 83% only vote in the final competition of American Idol. The survey concluded that, “this is certainly not what the framers of our Constitution saw as participatory democracy.”
“My age group has become the people we used to hate,” he said. “But I can see what the old guys meant in 1968 when they said that peace couldn’t be found by joining hands around the Pentagon and trying to levitate the building. I got that loud and clear.
“One of my 35-year-old supervisors at GenChem told me a few years ago that some people didn’t die in Hiroshima because death wasn’t part of their reality, so nuclear weapons were only effective if you believed they were. That’s some weird [stuff], hey?”
In 2000, Garibedes and five of his pals from Patrick Henry High School class of 1964 pooled 40 years of saving from prudent living and purchased a compound in Santa Maria where they could all live out their retirement studying history, painting, hiking, settling with their mortality, and passing along lasting lessons to their children, many of whom still live with them even into their 40’s.
“I still like hanging around with young people. There’s hope there, and lots of great energy and ideas. But my granddaughter asked me what band Patrick Henry was in,” Garibedes said. “I had to keep my wife from strangling her. So much for give-and-take conversation.”