In a tough economy, millions of older people are working well past retirement age. Indeed, as Bloomberg News reports, 7.2 million Americans, aged 65 and older, were employed last year, a 67 percent jump from 10 years earlier. But few have the dramatic story to tell that 72-year old Jim Ed Bull does.
The septuagenarian works the longest mail route in the United States. Driving a mail truck, he hauls parcels along a stretch of 187.6 miles in Southwest Oklahoma. Earning a salary of $62,000 a year, Bull has been working the job for 13 years, and he's only called in sick to work five times during that time, according to an in-depth profile by Bloomberg News.
Not bad for working a region that can get as hot as 120 degrees Fahrenheit and as cold as zero degrees. And according to Bloomberg, the route is "some of the loneliest territory in the country" populated by bobcats, coyotes and skunks -- but not many people.
The route also is famously treacherous; Greer and Jackson counties were part of the area that suffered during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. Eighty years later, the two counties are still suffering from "extreme drought," according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. But Bull goes about his day with his humor in tact. In speaking to Bloomberg, he recounted a recent discussion he had on the route about his age. "A guy guessed I was 55. I corrected him: 39."
It's a second career for Bull, too. He worked for 36 years as a junior high and high school principal at three different school districts in Oklahoma. During his education career, he only called in sick to work five times, he told Bloomberg, the same number of times he's done so as a mail carrier.
Far beyond the experience of one 72-year old man working the longest mail route in the country, the uptick of older Americans staying in the workforce longer has caused a host of new phenomena in the workplace. As the Associated Press has reported, more older workers means more seasoned veterans now have younger managers -- nearly half of those born between 1946 and 1964 now work for a younger boss.
You can read the rest of the amazing profile on Bloomberg News.
Do you know older Americans who have interesting work stories? Share in the comments section below.