It looks like a situation ripe for political punch lines. Home Depot (NYSE:HD) -- who's been accused of throttling mom-and-pop businesses as it spreads across the country -- turns to AARP to recruit, you guessed it, Mom and Pop.

On Friday, the home improvement giant and AARP announced a joint plan to help train and recruit older workers to staff some of the more than 35,000 job openings expected at Home Depot in 2004. The nation's No. 2 retailer currently employs 300,000 workers, 15% of whom are already over age 50. AARP predicts declining numbers of workers under retirement age, and sees its members ready to step up to the plate.

Cynics (like me) might wonder if America's moms and pops should be working at Home Depot at all. Haven't they worked enough? Shouldn't they be wearing flowered shirts and basking on warm beaches, sipping drinks with little umbrellas?

Maybe, but I learned long ago not to pity people who don't want or need it. Studies have shown that older workers are happier and healthier than homebound retirees. And I know from past adventures in retail that my retired colleagues made much better employees than I did. If you have a leaky toilet, whom are you going to ask for help: the smiling gray-haired man who's owned a house for 25 years, or the sullen teenager with the insolent hairdo?

If you want anecdotal evidence that America's seniors are a ready and willing workforce, just take a trip to the nearest McDonald's (NYSE:MCD), or step into Sam's house and say hello to one of Wal-Mart's (NYSE:WMT) famous greeters.

With 75 million baby boomers retiring soon and living longer, someone's going to have to fill the employment gap. If other retailers follow Home Depot's lead, more boomers might just boomerang back into the workforce.

Share your thoughts on Home Depot's partnership with AARP on the Fool's Home Depot board.

Seth Jayson likes to ask the sullen teen for advice, but only because he, too, used to have an insolent hairdo. He scorns your conformist email, and doesn't own shares of any of the mentioned companies.