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What Are the Benefits of Avoiding Retirement?Aired October 4, 2000 - 2:41 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Ah, retirement. Don't we all dream of it? No more blaring alarm clocks, grueling morning commutes or endless meetings?
Well, some older Americans actually choose to continue working for a long time: many for the money, but some for the sheer love of it. And we would like to introduce you to two older workers: TV talk show host Ethma Odum -- she is 68 -- and consultant Robert Eisenberg. He is 102, 102.
They join us this hour from our Washington bureau to talk about what they do it and why they do it and why they are appearing before the U.S. Senate this week in Washington.
We thank you so much, both of you, for joining us.
Mr. Eisenberg, I'll start with you. You are a consultant for the Zipper and Trend Manufacturing Company (ph). In fact, you are known as the dean of the zipper business. I love that.
Tell us at 102, why are you still working?
ROBERT EISENBERG, CONSULTANT: Because I like it very much.
ALLEN: I see that you once retired, you traveled the world, but you got a little bored so you continued to work. How does one continue to work at 102, when so many of us dream of retiring at much younger ages?
EISENBERG: Well, I'll answer the question by asking one. How else can you live without doing something instead of just bored -- being bored with life?
ALLEN: That's a good question. Is that the type of thing you're going to tell the U.S. Senate this week? I know that both you and Ms. Odum will be talking with committee on aging. What do you plan to say?
EISENBERG: Exactly that, along those lines.
ALLEN: I -- I read here, too, that when you're not working you like to spend time with the kids, Phyllis (ph), who's 75, and Jack, your son-in-law, who is 80.
ALLEN: Do you instruct your children about your work ethic and why work is important?
EISENBERG: I discuss it quite often.
ALLEN: Well, let's go to Ms. Odum. I see that you were the first person in Louisiana, your area, to produce a live talk program. You are a TV talk show host in Alexandria, Louisiana.
Any plans to retire any time soon, Ms. Odum?
ETHMA ODUM, TV TALK SHOW HOST: No, and actually I have to add a year to that 68.
ALLEN: Oh, OK.
ODUM: I am 69.
No, I don't intend to retire. I love what I do and I enjoy doing it. And as Mr. Eisenberg says, you've got to stay young at heart.
ALLEN: Are you seeing more older people go back to work or stay working just because they want to, not for money reasons?
ODUM: Yes, yes. I see -- well, especially for Green Thumb. They do an excellent job of re-educating people and getting them employed. And they ought to be complimented. I have done a series on Green Thumb in my own home town, and I was just amazed at what they had accomplished.
ALLEN: And we should say Green Thumb tries to provide work for older -- older workers.
ALLEN: And you, too, will go before the U.S. Senate.
ODUM: Yes, I will.
ALLEN: Ever imagine you'd get this day in your life?
ODUM: No, no. Really and truthfully. This has just been a marvelous experience for me, a wonderful experience.
ALLEN: And what do you plan to say to the Senate?
ODUM: I will be in front of -- with Senator Breaux, and you know, in my heart, I believe that there's many people out there that could work if they would just find some niche for themselves. That's what I intend to say.
ALLEN: And Mr. Eisenberg...
EISENBERG: Yes. ALLEN: ... we did mention that you retired at one point and you traveled the world. A lot of us dream of doing something like that. How does that compare to what you do now in your everyday work? I see that you work 20 hours per week. Do you miss the freedom to travel?
EISENBERG: No. Really -- not really. I've traveled enough in my day.
ALLEN: And what would you say to young folks out there, say, just starting out working about attitudes, about work, and what you should think about your life's calling?
EISENBERG: Well, I imagine that everybody should be loyal, just and honest with your company owners. And as long as they're that far into the ownership, I believe that to be true.
ALLEN: And do you remember what was your first job ever? How old were you when you started working?
EISENBERG: I had been around -- around 20 when I went to work for my father. He was in a clothing -- men's clothing business.
ALLEN: Ms. Odum, I'll ask you the same question. What was your first job?
ODUM: Well, it was with the TV station, really. I went to work when I was in my 30s, and I will soon be there 40 years. Fact is October the 9th I will celebrate my 40th year on television.
ALLEN: How about that. We all should last that long, Lou.
ALLEN: Maybe not, I don't know.
Ethma Odum, Robert Eisenberg, thank you so much for talking with us today.
EISENBERG: Thank you.
ODUM: Thank you.
ALLEN: All right. Take care.
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