Aging in a Pokémon world
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.
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.