<b>BARK BACK: </b> Carole Bennett (right) grooms Jack, helped by Petco manager Jill Abbiatti (left) and dog groomer Jordan Stafford.
Paul Wellman

I’ve heard that people have around five different careers in their lifetimes. I, for instance, was an executive for Columbia Pictures Television, founded my own talent agency, received a master’s in clinical psychology, penned two books, wrote columns for Huffington Post and Psychology Today, taught duplicate bridge, launched a small catering company, and started a doggie daycare service. But as I clock in to begin my shift, I can’t help but wonder why I am now working for minimum wage. What went wrong? Or did it go right?  

After being my own boss the majority of my career, I suddenly found myself hovering around the 60-plus age group and feeling bored. Finding a job at this age in a small town like Santa Barbara is about as easy as a good-looking, smart, single woman finding a worthwhile companion. But I wanted to give it a try anyway.

I homed in on what I enjoyed and which company might see past my age to appreciate my experience. That’s how I found Petco, which was hiring a grooming salon apprentice. It took me longer to fill out the online application than it should take to complete the SATs, but I forged ahead, sent the form into HR, and then took my résumé down to meet the manager at the Milpas store in person.

Upon introducing myself to the tattooed, spiked-hair, angel-faced woman named Jill, I explained that, if anything, my age would be a plus: I was stable, responsible, and would not make this job an exit ramp because of boredom or something better coming my way.

Though she was younger than my youngest child, Jill was wise beyond her years, and I quickly realized that mutual respect and admiration would bridge our age gap. I got the job!

At first, I was embarrassed to tell my friends that I was in a six-month program to learn dog grooming while being paid minimum wage. “Really, Carole?” they’d say. But after two weeks of bathing and brushing those adorable creatures, I was grateful to have found a new calling that added to my cacophony of experiences.

I love new adventures and think this job will be the capper to all of the others. The other day, someone said I was on the fast-track to become the salon manager, which I relayed to my husband while beaming with pride.

So, to all those who might be afraid to dip your toe in the employment pool again because of your age: Go for it. You have nothing to lose. I’m grateful that I was the boss at 40 and now am happy to have a boss at 60.


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