The last thing this playfulness coach wants to write about is age rage, but the shootings in Las Vegas makes it unavoidable.
Am picturing the scene on Sunday, thousands of young people just off the Vegas Strip, basking in a country music festival. And high above them, a man less than a year younger than I am, waiting to open fire.
I have looked through many accounts of the tragedy & seen statement after statement saying, “No one knows why he did this terrible thing. He has no known political or religious beliefs.” Always, somewhere in the account, is what’s to me the pertinent information that could point to a trigger for lethal rage – well-off, white, 64-years old.
Who were the victims? Mostly young adults with bright futures glistening in front of them.
An older white male who, according to his family, made himself a tidy fortune in real estate, worries about his mother in Texas after Hurricane Irma – he sends her a walker. He gambles regularly in Mesquite, NV, where he recently won a $20.000 jackpot playing the Eureka Casino slot machines. He is a regular in Las Vegas. He has an ex-wife, kids & a 62-year old girl friend who’s currently traveling. His father was a bank robber who made the FBI most wanted list. And he was 64 years old.
I have to wonder how much that last point was a factor in targeting his choice of victims – over 20,.0000 mostly white young adults crowded together on the 15-acre footprint of a former parking garage, now an outdoor venue that Las Vegas hopes will transform the city into a live-music destination.
Sunday night was the closer of a 3-day country music festival that had, each day, drawn up to 30,000 fans. Although the site is less than half the size of another outdoor music venue, it offers something the other lacks – the razzle dazzle of fabulous Las Vegas hotel resorts as a backdrop. Including, almost 1500 feet away, the Mandalay Bay.
Who will be the first news commentator or reporter to suggest the motive might be age rage? A white, upper middle class man about to do a back flip into “old” age, recently beset with experiences beyond his control – a hurricane touching his family, a $20,000 jack pot win – with his girl friend on the road. It has to have occurred to SOMEONE as at least a possible motive for the horror.
America is a tough place to grow old. Increasing costs, decreasing income, virtually no prospects of finding work with decent hours & a living wage. Look at the local grocery stores, behind the counters at fast food joints – the faces are as likely to be lined as youthful, as people who were financially wiped out in 2008 & whose homes are “under water” need to supplement their Social Security check with whatever work they can find.
And ageism hits early in the USA. When I parted ways with my corporate job back in 2001, my resume should have made me a lock for an account exec job – employee of the year for a 1600-personnel company, rave letters from mega satisfied customers, strong written & verbal communication skills. BUT there was my birth date – 02/07/52. At 49, I’d been aged out of the job market.
Even someone who made his money through his own wits could feel the weight of his years as a limitation, especially compared to the youthful exuberance of the crowd at the Rt 91 Harvest Festival.
America is no country for old men. And I imagine that someone about to do that back flip into “old” age could be especially susceptible.
To whom does the future belong? Not the man on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay.