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Masculinity

Let Older Men Be Useful

One summer, I worked as the lone car cleaner for an Avis rental franchise. This one was nestled in the back of a BP gas station and never had more than 15 vehicles at one time.

Despite the heat and humidity of Kentucky summers, I found the job pleasant enough. Most cars needed only a quick vacuum of the interior and then I would run it through the car wash and, if it wasn’t reserved for that day, drive it to the parking lot across the street.

You learn the value of AC in that environment. You also learn how low-quality Chevy Cavaliers felt as soon as you sat down in one.

These types of locally-owned businesses attract good ol’ boys like a bar at happy hour. These are friends of the owner, typically retired or on lunch break. It sometimes functions as a mini men’s club.

One such man was an older gentleman in his 70s who helped move the cars around. Sometimes he would drive me to one of the larger corporations in the area to pick up a rental return.

He did this for free. He was never an employee.

He just wanted to help out.

To be useful.

And, God bless him, the owner allowed it.

Men want to be useful. They want to be respected. This need does not disappear with age.

One of the great travesties of our culture is shuffling off older people to their separate camps. We don’t think they offer us any value, and for older men, this is particularly tragic. Feeling useless is one of the quickest ways to an ignoble death, to the slow deterioration of dementia. Or worse.

What can you do for the older men in your life?

Ask for their advice on important matters.

Ask for their help on things they have conquered when they were young.

Treat them as useful. They want to go out of this world used up and spent, knowing that they gave it everything they could.

Too many waste away before they have crossed the finish line. Don’t let that happen to the older men in your life.