What Did Our Grandparents Do?

My grandfather retired on his 65th birthday from the only company he ever worked for.

Today, almost no one I know expects to do that. We have opportunities our grandparents never dreamed of — including the “opportunity” to go through an intense job search every few years.

Surely a single career was simpler in some ways, but not in others. The level of angst in a 21st-century job search is not new to the human experience, and that makes me wonder what comparable stressors our grandparents faced in their working lives.

They may not, for example, have looked so intently for meaning, purpose, or contribution in their work. And being stuck with the wrong boss or culture for decades must have been excruciating. (If you only search once, you’d better get it right — or maybe martini lunches begin to make a lot more sense.)

In this lifetime, the search goes on. But, in the back of my mind, I’ll keep wondering what the search looked and felt like several generations ago.