Unless going to college to stay out of the Vietnam War counts as recent, I am out of luck.
Not fair, illegal and a loss, not just for Oscar Mayer but for its parent company Kraft foods, which right now is in the financial toilet and needs all the help it can get.
Oscar Mayer is not only violating the law. It is also reneging on its own tradition of Wienermobile diversity.
The first Wienermobile driver was an Oscar Mayer salesman who luckily had movie experience. He was also 3 feet, 4 inches tall: “Little Oscar” whom they dressed like a French chef without the “ooh la la” moustache.
OK, so they had to hire a little person because the genius who designed Wiener One made the cockpit so small that only a midget would fit. Still, a victory for diversity and opportunity.
Old people as bad drivers? No way! Bottom line is that in Hawaii we old folks are not weapons on the street. We are the targets.
I know why they want to hire only college kids. They’re going for unwrinkled bouncy-bounce, hi-how-are-ya. You know, super sprightly. Totally awesome.
Hey, Kraft Foods, I can do sprightly. Watch me hop out of my sedan and bound across the Hawaii Kai Town Center heading for Ross on Seniors Tuesday. Mister Sunshine.
And speaking of driving, I can drive just as well as any 2019 Oshkosh State U. grad.
Old people as bad drivers? No way! So we mix up the brake pedal and the accelerator once in a while. Bottom line is that in Hawaii we old folks are not weapons on the street. We are the targets.
Oahu drivers are the country’s leading killers of elderly pedestrians. Our kupuna are safer inside a Middle East military base than they are crossing King street.
Besides, none of the new hires would have any more Wienermobile driving experience than I do. That’s what Hot Dog High is for.
And today’s Wienermobile, created by a famous industrial designer, has huge wraparound windows. That levels the visual playing field for seniors with peripheral vision issues, which does come with aging.
It’s also close to driverless. It has a voice-activated GPS navigation device, an audio center with a wireless microphone, and a horn that plays the Wiener Jingle in 21 different genres including Cajun, rap and bossa nova.
A trained circus seal could drive it. In fact with all those horn sounds to choose from, a circus seal would love to drive it.
Medical Science Is On My Side
But let me tell you what surprisingly does not come with aging. This is my strongest argument.
Medical science is on the side of the elderly. You and Oscar Mayer probably worry that guys like me won’t remember where we parked the Wienermobile. Think again.
My memory is just as good as yours, or putting it another way, the Hot Dog High whippersnappers are just as likely to lose the Wienermobile in a shopping center parking lot as the Ross-on-Tuesday crowd is.
Levitin says that a short-term memory loss is common at all ages. It’s just that we think about it in different ways depending on how old we are.
Folks my age, we immediately think of dementia. But when your kids forget to take out the garbage like you asked them to do five minutes ago, you don’t think memory loss. You think lack of focus and selfish, inconsiderate weaselhood.
Or as my seventh-grade gym teacher used to call us, “I-I-me-me boys.”
According to the neuroscientist, it takes older folks a longer time to remember because they have so many more memories to sort through, such as all the words to “Oh, I’d love to be an Oscar Mayer wiener.”
Memory impairment is not inevitable, he says. Some aspects of memory even get better as we age, for instance the ability to see patterns and make predictions.
“If you’re going to get an X-ray, you want a 70-year-old radiologist reading it, not a 30-year-old one.”
And if you are selling hot dogs, you want a wiener ambassador with 70 years of processed meat by-products in his bones (probably literally), not some fresh-faced BA media and society major.
So plaintiffs’ attorneys, feel free to give me a call. Acquire the desire to sue Oscar Mayer. You could be on the cutting edge of Milner v. Mayer.
True, there is probably not much money in it for you, but it’s a chance to litigate on behalf of a basic human right. And get me out of the house.
Plus, I’m willing to stipulate that when we win, Oscar Mayer will pay your legal fees in baloney.
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Neal Milner is a former political science professor at the University of Hawaii where he taught for 40 years. He is a political analyst for KITV and is a regular contributor to Hawaii Public Radio's "The Conversation." His most recent book is The Gift of Underpants. Opinions are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Civil Beat's views.