Man breaks a world record by working for the same company for 84 years

Originally published at: Man breaks a world record by working for the same company for 84 years | Boing Boing


I changed jobs a lot in my career, because as a woman in tech it was the only way to deal with the glass ceiling. You can’t get promoted, so you have to instead get a better position at a different company (where you again won’t get promoted but need to stay long enough to establish a reasonable working period and not look like someone who changes jobs a lot). Staying at a company, you’ll get inflationary raises if you’re lucky, but most years I didn’t even get those. If you change jobs, you can get a nice bump because the moment they are trying to lure you away to their company is when you have the most leverage. It’s all down hill after that.

I guess men working at textile companies are different. A woman in tech would still be that first assistant after 84 years.


Here’s a 100 year old woman breaking the record for oldest person to get Eisenhower’s autograph after already getting Lincoln’s autograph more than 90 years earlier


How do we know it’s the same guy, and that he didn’t switch places at some point. It’s not like anyone would have been around long enough to know.


That seems kind of a failure here for wasting his elder years working instead of enjoying retirement.


Well, good for him, I guess.
Frankly sounds like my idea of hell.


Some people are fortunate enough to have work that they greatly enjoy, and enough to stick around as long as they can doing it. At my first employer, Rocketdyne, there was a lead mechanic (essentially a foreman) who managed the ‘final line’ (assembly) for one of our engines. He refused to retire and was as mentally fit as you or I and was in good health although in his mid-80s. I later learned that he did retire only so that he could take care of his ailing wife. Also supporting that assembly function and other departments was a massive stockroom (more like a building within a building) that was run by a head clerk who was in her late-70s when I first met her – another one who refused retirement. This was at a time when our company was just barely considering going with a carousel system for parts retrieval… otherwise her stockroom was run with paper documents and manual retrieval of parts. Ancient. And there were many thousands of different parts stocked. Back to our clerk: She had memorized all the part numbers and their locations in her multi-tiered stockroom. I was told that the company did not ask her to leave once stocking was finally modernized, but she left. One can guess why.


There was a guy where I work who was a machinist in the department of Mechanical Engineering. He started as an apprentice when he was thirteen, and more than fifty years later was still there. (I’m not sure exactly how long… it may have been more than sixty years.)

During one of a series of faculty reorganisations he took the opportunity to retire.

Less than a year later we heard that he had passed away.


At one point, our Rocketdyne test org had ~150 techs/mechs at our particular campus… so you know this’ll happen, given the increased odds: Two excellent test mechs and one sparky with the company since the Apollo program also passed away very soon after retiring. All were single and totally devoted to their jobs. One of our “gray beard” engineers predicted it: “They won’t last for long.” He knew them better than we newbie engineers back then. Quite the lesson.


We’ve got a groundskeeper at my hospital who has been with the state in his current job for more than 50 years. He could’ve retired with a full salary two decades ago, before he turned 50. He is fond of saying he wouldn’t have lived to 50 if he wasn’t doing a job he’s happy to do every day for as long as he can.


That’s true for people in tech in general, not just women.

I spent over 10 years at the same IT firm and was warned by the first recruiter I contacted that I’d have a hard time switching jobs because I’d spent too long in the same place and, when I found a new job (on my own because no recruiter would help me out), I basically had to start all over again. Let’s say I took a different tack toward company loyalty over the next couple of years. My brother spent 12 years at his last tech job and spent the last two years hunting for a new position (no help from recruiters). He was pretty furious when, ~2.5 years after starting from scratch I was making much more than he ever could by rising up the ranks in his company. Meanwhile, you have folks at my old company who’ve been at the same company for 15 years, steadily rising through the ranks who are now making 60-75% of what I make.

Issues with internal advancement are universal. Getting a management or technical leadership position (and getting paid for it!) is almost always accomplished by moving to a new company. At my current company, just about every manager was hired into that position, not promoted into it. And, of course most of those new hires are men, in spite of diversity initiatives, along with a lot of creepy stuff that no one dares openly talk about.

Tech’s just screwed up that way and it’s sad. I basically set myself on fire for that first company and got screwed over for my loyalty. I think that there are very few jobs in tech where you could contemplate spending 15 years in one place where you aren’t setting yourself on fire, let alone 84.

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Tell that to all the bros that got promoted past me in my 30 years in the industry.


This is a very middle class, tech job kind of privilege. A labourer (of any gender) doesn’t benefit from changing jobs and even most office workers probably don’t. They won’t negotiate a better job at a different company. At best they will be able to secure an equivalent one without the benefits seniority bestows upon them at their old job. Plus, many people don’t have the kind of mobility tech workers have. If there’s one factory in your town you are not going to change jobs, because that uproots you from a community that values staying in one place over generations.

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A workplace can become very familiar and comfortable if it is literally all you have known your entire life. Or even “just” after a decade or two.

Oh don’t mistake me- I recognize the privilege in it. I have many many privileges in my life. That doesn’t negate the point I was making, but it doesn’t hurt to point it out.

Even many tech workers don’t have it. I paid a price for all that job switching. I moved all over the country. I never lived anywhere for more than 18 months until my 40s. It was a choice I made, but I had no kids in school, sick parents to care for, spouses with jobs they wish to keep, or other things that prevented relocation.

I think I may have derailed this thread by making it about me, as white middle class people are so prone to doing. Perhaps we should veer back on course and accept my apologies.


I get it.
I also get how some people are institutionalised after decades in prison.
So, horses for courses, I guess.


I don’t understand it either but he may very well be enjoying his life.

My dad worked into his 80s, he retired when he was 58 but he still enjoyed working. He didn’t need the money.

I’ve been doing the same thing for over 30 years in my own business, I look forward to it being a memory and never working again.

I guess what makes each of us happy is what makes the world go round.

But what really sucks are people in their 70s and 80s that have to work so as not to starve. Our country is so embarrassing on many issues.


This sounds like a model that ended in the US around the 1980s. It shifted from workers deciding to leave, to employers deciding to dump them. There were very few family-oriented companies employing multiple generations of workers left in my area after outsourcing and profit-taking took priority. I worked as a contractor for two of them, because they were in the process of letting all those long-term employees go.

I was also lucky to be in tech because it enabled me to work for a series of consulting firms. The downside was all jobs were contract work, so benefits were up to the workers to find for themselves. People in non-technical departments were encouraged to go back to school :money_with_wings: and retrain for jobs in other fields - like healthcare - or sign up with temp agencies and hope those jobs could lead to something permanent.

The luxury of remaining in one place really depended on open positions at companies that would hire workers at a rate that would enable them to afford housing and other costs of living. In the era of outsourcing fever and dot com boom and bust cycles, those jobs (in manufacturing, banking, and customer service) became scarce very quickly. Ageism was another factor for folks thrown into unemployment in their 40s, forced to compete with younger (and cheaper) college graduates for the same positions. Entire regions were impacted by this, as people’s disposable income (and town populations / employment rates) plummeted.

Same here - in terms of a price, since I was able to limit my travels to a tri-state area. What jumps out at me about the main story is that most women don’t have the opportunity to remain in the same job for their entire career. Regardless of the industry, (as you pointed out) we’re not paid or promoted equally. In addition to lower career earnings, any time off for family not only derails career growth, but in the US it costs workers in later years because of how retirement benefits are calculated. This is why, among seniors, women are more likely fall below the poverty line.

Add companies consuming each other for fun and profit to the mix described above, and this man’s record is likely to stand for a long time!


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