As Nat suggested, i am trying to write a few impressions, reactions, thoughts, etc. about US compared to other places. I've been willing to write this for a few days but being busy, and with not always reliable internet access, I just start today.
I arrived from Europe straight into Las Vegas, and went though immigration in Las Vegas.
As always mixed feelings about airports, immigration, procedures, etc.
Immigration lines are clearly organized with clear signs, and on top of the signs, several employees are there to direct people to the right line, to keep them moving, to tell them where to go etc. Leading me to questions: are most people unable to read signs and follow them? I suppose people in charge must have studied the process,a nd realized ti goes smoother with human aid.
Immigration is straightforward, even though taking 10 fingerprints of everyone entering the US is time consuming. I don't think I am the dumbest person, but the immigration officer had to explain me where to put my fingers on the scanner, and to make me do it at least twice for each hand and thumb, as the scanner did not get it right at the first time.
I had to go from the airport terminal to the car rental place. I took a shuttle, just like on any airport. I was showed by the fact the shuttle was driven and operated by a single old woman, who looked well over 60. This poor woman had to take every suitcase from evry passenger entering the bus and put it on a shelf. Most of these suitcases looked very heavy. mine was 25 kg (55 lbs) as I had to carry lots of paper. This poor lady put the suitcases on three shelves, the highest one being around 1.5 m (5 ft) from the ground. Her face showed pain for each suitcase she had to lift. After having put all the suitcases, she went to the driver seat and drive the shuttle. When getting out, I took my owen suitcase from the shelf and went out, but most other peel waited for the old lady to take their suitcase down from the shelf. I was really feeling so sorry for this old woman, doing such a physically strenuous work. Carrying heavy charges, and turning around with them must be fatal to her spinal column, all her muscles and articulations.
In Europe, you do get less service, and everyone is left to take care of their own luggage. But my point, is that in Europe, such a job would be made by a young male, not by an old female. Seeing elderly people at work is always a shock to me in the US, and seeing them doing such a physically strenuous task is even more a shock.
I don't know why they had a old lady doing the driving- or handling the suitcases- seems to me when I've been on planes and buses that passengers put their luggage on the racks. And I don't ever recall a old lady driving. But you can't judge a whole country by how it is in one place at one time. Maybe the regular driver was out sick and this lady was a emergency substitute. I don't know, it doesn't make sense to me.
If other Americans are like me, when in an unfamiliar place we tend not to read the signs so much as look around for other cues as to what we should do or where we should go. I don't know why I do this. Several times when I have visited a city, I have had people say to me, "What are you doing? Can't you read the sign right there?!" (Once, in New York City area, I drove into the wrong lane at a toll booth and a guy yelled at me. I said, "Sorry, I'm not from this area. I'm from Ohio." He responded, "What, they don't read in Ohio?!" funny guy)
As for the older lady doing that job, it does seem like a younger person would be lifting luggage. But, maybe the woman needed a job so bad and this was the job she could get. There is such a thing as age discrimination here, making it harder to get hired after a certain age . . say 50-55. She might have been told, "If you can do what the job requires, you got the job." (and if/when she can't do it, she'll be gone and they will get someone else who can).
Where I work, we sometimes have older and/or small women that have to lift things that are kind of heavy. A co-worker might help them, but basically everyone knows that if this is your job then you have to be able to do it. If you cannot do it, or do it safely, you cannot keep that job. They call it, "Not meeting the minimum requirements of the position." If they get injured doing a job, they get rehab and temporarily put in a "transitional" job that doesn't require such physical strength or endurance. But at some point, they have to return to the position they had before or they won't have a job. They can try to get disability income, but that has really become much more difficult to get approved, due to all the people who want to go out on disabiklity retirement. This is life in America.
Unlike the younger variety, older American women often did not have the education and/or skills and opportunities to have made a lot of money during their lifetime. They may have relied upon a husband to be the breadwinner, and maybe they divorced or he died. So, even if they receive retirement income, that might be inadequate to meet their living expenses, so they might really need to work to increase their income. I think we will see less of that as women 40 and younger (who do tend to have more education and opportunities) get to retirement age. Those younger women might be better off at retirement time than their male counterparts.
That old lady might have driving that bus for 30 years, and as long as she is doing her job, why replace her, she need to eat too, And also if you could look at her history, she probley only miss work one or two days in that 30 years, when a 20 year old would more than likey miss one or two days a week and complain while they was there
I'm a few years behind you Nat (the 48 in my name is when I was born)and still working. I regulary end up picking up heavy boxes and am fortunate that it's no problem. I can still do it. In a few years, I plan to retire and will see what I end up doing to keep busy. I could continue in my job for a good bit more if I wanted but have been there forever already.
I use to think when I was 65 I'd have all sorts of aches and pains and be hobbling about with a cane. But the fact is I feel no different than I did 20 or 30 years ago and there's nothing I did back then I can't do now (if maybe a bit slower). Retirement at 65 now seems absurdly too early.
On the other hand, because of automation and transfer of manufacturing out of the country, there are not enough jobs to go around and delaying retirement of old people only exacerbates this problem by keeping jobs from young people who need them. It's the biggest dilemma our country has today.