I know several 50-something guys here in Moscow who were living the good life until they lost their jobs. By coincidence -- I guess -- all of them were in the banking industry. Crisis, sanctions, downsizing, etc., all played a part of course, but the real disaster that these men have suffered is that they now seem to be virtually unemployable. To make matters worse, their former affluence had enabled them to have what Americans call "purchasing power" -- and we all know that when you increase your income so as to be "upwardly mobile" (another Americanism) you also automatically increase your spending. If it is not your own idea, you can bet that your wife will supply the inspiration.
Speaking of which, in Russia women are supposed to retire at age 55 -- which ranks among the most blatant absurdities of all time. Why in the HELL should anyone be forced to retire at the height of their powers? I mean, we are not talking about boxers or football players, for God's sake, but rather business people whose brains are functioning full throttle and whose work-experience has become vast. To put this in perspective: How old is Vladimir Putin? How old is Donald Trump?
So these men -- and women -- bought property with mortgages that were astronomical (but affordable at the time), raised their kids amid the usual barrage of piano, English/French/German, violin, ballet, gymnastics, and math lessons, thus incurring the parental responsibilities of maintaining the level of such standards for the future of their offspring (not to mention summer holidays for themselves and their children, etc.). So you who are struggling along on 60K per months might say, "Screw these self-indulgent bastards!" -- but the fact is that many of them earned their positions because of their drive and intelligence. And, perhaps naively, they built lives based on reasonable expectations of a viable, indeed profitable, future. Suddenly up in smoke.
OK, I am no bleeding heart for those who are used to steamrolling around in a Mercedez and giving the high-five finger plus the insult of blaring horn to some poor sap that is simply trying to leg it across the road. And jabbering on their damned phones while they do it. A lot of these arrogant twats ought to be dragged from their gleaming show-cars and beaten snotless.
HOWEVER...the fact remains that there are many, many talented businessmen in Moscow whose lives are uprooted daily not only because of the so-called crisis, but due to nepotism, bad management, corruption, and the INFERNAL way that Russians have of replacing one incompetent Central Director with another one just as bad or worse who then liquidates the whole goddamned staff and replaces everybody with his own hand-picked cronies. This is why good men, as well as bad, end of jobless in mid-life. I have seen and heard of this over and over again.
In America, the higher ups tend to remain...higher up. Maybe a lot of them don't deserve to, but they do. In Russia, being a "top manager" means that in reality you have about as much staying power as an ice cream cone in the desert in July. It is the typical Russian reality played out again and again and again: here today, gone tomorrow. Always for reasons that remain clandestine, but are really, when you think about it for more than 30 seconds, painfully obvious.
No wonder that the life expectancy of Russian men is so low.
And so what are these middle-aged men and women with narrow specialties supposed to do? About all they can do is solicit the support of old friends, most of whom just turn their backs, pretending to be available for assistance, but off on a holiday in the Bahamas when the phone is desperately ringing.
I consider myself a lucky man because I am good as long as people want to learn English. That is, I have a marketable skill. The day that Chinese becomes the World Language, I am shit out of luck. Just like Dmitri, Sergey, and my other friends who are in the position, they are in -- and slowly dying of stress and self-hatred for not being able to do better, when in fact it isn't their fault.
It is the fault of an out-moded mentality that says you are old when you are not old. it is the same mentality that causes provincial Russian mothers to try to force their business-oriented 26-rear-old daughters into marriage and child-rearing when these young women desire to build their careers. The message is clear: soon you will be TOO OLD.
The truth is that these suddenly TOO OLDS need to be retrained or recycled back into society -- not put out to pasture before their time.
In most developed nations, growing old means -- provided you have worked for it -- a livable pension and even the possibility to make yourself useful if you so desire. And I mean professionally, not by doing the dishes or taking out the garbage. In Russia, getting old means We Hope You Die Soon. At least that is what the Authorities wish on you. They demonstrate this by the indifference they display. Just Die, old man.
Anyway, the young squirts who take your job will work for less.
===Eric Richard Le Roy===