An Ottawa public servant who retired 36 years ago, way back in 1981 got a "call to action" letter to help fix the Phoenix pay debacle .

But at 96, Len de Carle says he's got better things to do. This is all part of a campaign by the government to reach out to interested retirees who can help fix the mangled Phoenix pay system.

But the letters are clearly indiscriminate and in Len's case, pretty amusing.

The year was 1981; Pierre Elliott Trudeau helped repatriate the Canadian Constitution and Ronald Reagan narrowly missed being assassinated.

It's also the year Len De Carle decided, after a long, fulfilling career in the public service, to retire.

“When I first retired,” de Carle says, “I took a contract and that was the only contract. I said no more.”

So, imagine his surprise at 96, when he got a letter from the federal government; a call for interest to help his public service colleagues fix the crippling Phoenix pay system.

“This astounded me because I was wondering why they would be calling on retirees.”

Now, to be fair, De Carle does know a few things about computers. In the war, he worked during the infancy of the machines, then spent a career with the government in computer systems.

“A first it was all punch cards,” he recalls, “but then it converted and eventually went into the computer systems.”

But these days, the only call he’s interested in is the call for lunch at his retirement home.

“Would I consider going back and giving them a hand? Not at my age,” he says, “not at my age. I'm beyond that now.”

At a public service rally today, there was some exasperated reaction to that call for help.

“This is interesting,” laughs Emmanuelle Tremblay with the Canadian Association of Professional Employee,” at least it shows the depth of the despair.”

Others don't think it's such a crazy idea.

“I mean all the power to him,” says Todd Panis, with National President of the Union of Health and Environment with PSAC, “Age is not a number right? I'm getting up there too and I feel if we can contribute, why not.”

But you're not going to convince Len De Carle of that. He's got better things to do.

“Just enjoy myself, going to cottage, my children, my great grandchildren,” he says, “Just living.”

By the way, that very first punch card system Len was referring to? It was introduced by IBM, the very company that brought us the Phoenix pay system.