Ag­ing in a Poké­mon world

The Glengarry News - - The Opinion Page - Richard Ma­honey [email protected]­gar­

The demise of the full-ser­vice gas sta­tion is not a big deal for a large seg­ment of the pop­u­la­tion yet. How­ever, for a size­able de­mo­graphic group, the move­ment to­wards self-serve pumps rep­re­sents a ma­jor in­con­ve­nience.

As a driver of a cer­tain age un­der­lined re­cently, gas bars that fill ‘er up for cus­tomers are few and far be­tween. The dearth of at­ten­dants is not a small con­sid­er­a­tion for the el­derly and/or peo­ple who have mo­bil­ity is­sues.

Yes, chil­dren, it is pos­si­ble to be a per­fectly com­pe­tent mo­torist and still have trou­ble get­ting around.

It is a fact of life that as we age, our def­i­ni­tion of “old” changes. And, con­sid­er­ing the al­ter­na­tive, we all want to con­tinue grow­ing older. Thus, re­gard­less of your age, you ought to pay at­ten­tion to the con­cerns of se­nior cit­i­zens.

There is a large num­ber of driv­ers, and cus­tomers, who would ap­pre­ci­ate if more gas sta­tions of­fered just one bay where full ser­vice would be avail­able.

The ab­sence of such an amenity re­duces se­niors’ in­de­pen­dence. Many older driv­ers, par­tic­u­larly dur­ing our long Win­ter, dread the idea of hav­ing to exit their ve­hi­cles and work all those gad­gets in order to re­fuel. So, in­stead of driv­ing their own ve­hi­cles, they may sim­ply stay at home.

Since older folks tend to move more slowly than younger driv­ers, us­ing self-serve can ex­pose se­niors to the glares of im­pa­tient cus­tomers lined up to use the pumps.

Want to ex­pe­ri­ence a ver­sion of Ar­maged­don? Pull into a busy gas bar on the 401 on a long week­end. You would think the end of the world is nigh as blood pres­sures mount while jit­tery driv­ers tap their toes and check their watches while one el­derly per­son, who has set out to ruin every­one else’s lives by tak­ing for­ever to get gas.

Apart from avoid­ing riots, an­other rea­son for full ser­vice is deco­rum.

Some peo­ple do not like the aroma of gaso­line, which tends to linger on hands and cloth­ing. When you are all gussied up for a night on the town, the last thing you want is for your for­mal garb to reek of a cer­tain eau du pro­duit pétrolier raf­finé.

Imag­ine the ten­sion on the ball­room floor. “I would love to have the first waltz with you, Hed­ley. But I de­tect a scent. Reg­u­lar un­leaded? You pump your own petrol! And you don’t even pur­chase premium. Un­hand me, you cad!”

While they no doubt value pro­pri­ety like all other prof­itable multi­na­tional con­glom­er­ates, gas com­pa­nies would tell you that self-serve re­sponds to con­sumers’ needs. In other words, more money can be made when the clients do most of the work them­selves. Take the banks, please. The few re­main­ing real, live tell­ers are be­ing re­placed by ma­chines.

Yes, it is con­ve­nient to be able to spend money faster and eas­ier than ever be­fore. Have plas­tic, and PINs, will travel. Speed passes are handy, be­cause we al­ways have to be some­where else, now.

But life is short enough; some­times we have to slow it down.

This fact fur­ther re­in­forces the case for a re­turn to the days when the sound of a gas pump bell would alert a cheery at­ten­dant who would bound out of the sta­tion, and pro­ceed to top up the tank, squeegee the wind­shield, check the oil, make a pro­found yet hum­ble ob­ser­va­tion about the state of the world, and in­quire about your sec­ond cousin’s op­er­a­tion and mar­i­tal sta­tus.

Gas bars were at one time sources of de­cent jobs for stu­dents. Young peo­ple would learn valu­able skills, such as count­ing change with­out the aid of a cal­cu­la­tor, and in­ter­act­ing with strangers, of all ages and back­grounds.

It would be­hoove more gas com­pa­nies and their fran­chisees to con­sider a re­turn to the good old days, and of­fer the full-ser­vice op­tion, along­side the self­serve speedy lane. This ad­di­tional choice would en­sure the loy­alty of a large clien­tele, and score valu­able pub­lic re­la­tions points with a huge and grow­ing seg­ment of the mar­ket.

The ad­vanced years have their ad­van­tages, ob­vi­ously. In ad­di­tion to get­ting dis­counts at fine re­tail­ers ev­ery­where, older peo­ple are rou­tinely “given more slack” than younger folks, sim­ply be­cause they are get­ting up there.

Se­niors can be for­given for speak­ing their mind and mak­ing the most out­landish state­ments be­cause, well, they are old.

Thank­fully, this cour­tesy does not ex­tend to pol­i­tics, for ob­vi­ous rea­sons.

In­ter­est­ingly, south of the border, the next oc­cu­pant of the White House will be a se­nior ci­ti­zen. The en­ter­tain­ing, and at

times fright­en­ing, Amer­i­can elec­tion cam­paign may pro­vide in­spi­ra­tion for those who have been pro­grammed to be­lieve that the 65th birth­day au­to­mat­i­cally spells re­tire­ment.

While se­niors rep­re­sent a large per­cent­age of vol­un­teers, many older peo­ple want to keep work­ing past the le­gal re­tire­ment age.

The right to work and re­main en­gaged in the work­force is un­der threat for many older Cana­di­ans, com­plains the Cana­dian As­so­ci­a­tion of Re­tired Peo­ple (CARP), not­ing that older work­ers are pres­sured to “make room” for younger em­ploy­ees, de­spite their ex­pe­ri­ence, skills, and po­ten­tial to con­tinue to con­trib­ute to the econ­omy.

The high­est bar­ri­ers are neg­a­tive at­ti­tudes and ageist pre­sump­tions about older work­ers.

Re­ject­ing the con­ven­tional rules of re­tire­ment, more and more older peo­ple are de­mand­ing that their rights be re­spected, and be al­lowed to work free of dis­crim­i­na­tion and be judged on their com­pe­tence not their age.

There are sev­eral good rea­sons why se­niors try to avoid whiling the days away in a rock­ing chair. For starters, day­time TV is dreck

and early-bird buf­fets be­come oh so pre­dictable.

Fur­ther­more, stud­ies have found that un­em­ploy­ment can cause higher lev­els of stress, de­pres­sion and other men­tal dis­or­ders and even greater us­age of hospi­tal re­sources. Idle­ness can make you sick.

Be­sides, with the price of ev­ery­thing go­ing up, con­tin­ued gain­ful em­ploy­ment is a ne­ces­sity for the mul­ti­tudes who can­not rely on ad­e­quate pen­sion plans or per­sonal sav­ings.

At the same time, older work­ers have more dif­fi­culty keep­ing their jobs, find­ing re-em­ploy­ment and tend to stay un­em­ployed longer once they’re out of the work­force.

Polls show that older work­ers are rou­tinely the vic­tims of dis­crim­i­na­tion. Ageism is noth­ing new. But, as time goes by, the is­sues of “old peo­ple” will even­tu­ally be­come every­one’s con­cerns.

These trends

Trends punc­tu­ate, and in some cases, dom­i­nate our lives, at least tem­po­rar­ily.

Sum­mer­time songs and fads tend to re­main par­tic­u­larly vivid in our mem­o­ries, pro­vid­ing the

back­ground for our trips down mem­ory lane.

Last week, on the ra­dio, the last gui­tar licks from “Free Bird” faded as the news reader at­tempted to ex­plain the Poké­mon Go phe­nom­e­non. These high-tech toys are more so­phis­ti­cated than hula hoops, skip­ping ropes, mar­bles, yo-yos or base­ball mitts, which were es­sen­tial parts of long, lazy Sum­mer days of an ear­lier era.

Iron­i­cally, Poké­mon Go runs counter to the im­age we have of to­day’s young peo­ple who we as­sume are al­ways glued to a gadget, wast­ing pre­cious time in a win­dow­less base­ment.

This lat­est craze forces peo­ple to get out­side and while chas­ing “lures,” they are not ex­per­i­ment­ing with il­licit drugs, they are get­ting some ex­er­cise and are en­joy­ing the great out­doors. They had bet­ter be slather­ing on the sun­screen be­cause Sum­mer is not over yet.

This has been the hottest Sum­mer on record, ac­cord­ing to NASA. And you won­der why our Prime Min­is­ter kept whip­ping his shirt off.

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