How do I find my aging dad a job?
October 14, 2008 8:58 AM Subscribe
What sorts of jobs might my retirement-age father be able to pursue to keep up with expenses?
My dad is basically Willy Loman.
He grew up on a farm in Guyana, worked his way through college, and had great success as a salesman in the agricultural technology industry there when the country started going downhill. He and my mother and siblings emigrated to Canada, where he worked as a driver for the local public transit utility. They moved to Florida and he indulged his entrepreneurial dreams, creating from scratch a thriving maintenance company with a few relatively high-wattage contracts. When that business began to decline during the Gulf War era, he sold it, and began a vending/catering company, which was less successful. Over most of the next decade, he tried to recapture the shine of his first business in America with depressing results, augmenting a thin stream of income with decreasingly remunerative stints as a town car driver, insurance salesman, customer service representative, and Sears phone salesman, which he now does full-time.
My mom has done much better; she's gone from being a housewife (while I was growing up) to administrative assistant to Realtor to chief administrator of a medium-sized department at a stable local company. She's now the breadwinner of the couple.
This would all be fine and sustainable, except for the now-familiar turn this story is about to take. My parents ill-advisedly purchased a big house in 2003, and they are chronically late on their mortgage payments, near the point of initiating foreclosure. Foreclosure would be an unmitigated disaster for my entire family, not to mention that the toll on my non-young parents would approach too-great-to-bear territory.
My dad has no illusions about matching my mom's salary, but if he could ditch the $25k/yr Sears position for something more profitable, it might help them keep their heads above water until they could sell the house. He's an awful typist and bad at computers generally, despite my best efforts to teach him. Otherwise, though, he's an intelligent man, a hard worker, great with his hands, a steady driver, a gregarious and interesting conversationalist, with a lifetime of varied experiences.
If I could work in the city where my parents live and contribute on my salary, I would do it in a heartbeat. But I'm still building what looks to be a promising career, and where they've settled, there are no opportunities for me. But I can't accept that my dad, despite his age and whatever foolishness inspired him to buy that house, isn't capable of earning more than $25k a year.
Is there an industry we should be exploring for him? Is there an investment I could make or a trade he could learn that might help him bring in a more robust income?
This is a tough question to submit; I guess all the anonymous ones are. But your parents are gods to you until you grow up, and the process of seeing them be diminished by the world can be incredibly painful.