The woes and wonders of working

On Tuesday, Nov. 21, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Duanesburg Diner in Duanesburg.

The OMOTM piled into the back room in an orderly fashion and, because of their ages, could not do otherwise. It would be fun to watch many of the OFs try to enter the restaurant in an unruly fashion.

They would be falling over their canes, crashing into one another, picking a few up off the floor, and unable to park their butts on the chairs. It would be fun, similar to drunken cows trying to find their stanchions.

A natural topic for the breakfast at this time of the year was the holiday of Thanksgiving. There were OFs who were traveling, who were staying home, who were having it catered, who were going to a restaurant, who were invited to friend’s or neighbor’s, or who were joining relatives close by.

Somehow Thanksgiving is all planned around a meal like the Pilgrims and the Indians had. Some of the OFs volunteer to serve others who would not have a meal at this time, and for some of those enjoying the food of Thanksgiving served to them by volunteers, meals are scarce many times for those being served.

On-the-job dangers

Here we go again with mechanics, only this time one of the mechanic OFs came to the breakfast with quite a sore hand from a typical mechanic’s malady called the slipped-wrench syndrome.

One OF said that anytime he grabs a wrench he is ready for the wrench to attack; either it is the wrong size, or the head or nut has been rounded off, or the nut has rusted on, or it is metric and the OF thought it was fractional, or the wrench was not wiped off and is oily, or the fastener is splattered with oil.

All of these conditions await the OF and then, from a completely unsuspected source the evil wrench has hidden up its sleeve, it will attack the OF mechanic anyhow.

Some of the OFs who are mechanics are also handymen contractors on a regular basis. For some, it is a way of making a living. For others, it is just a way to add to the retirement income so the OF can purchase some really big boy toys.

The OF will put up with all the head knocks, cut and bruised hands and knuckles plus a few other aches that go with being a mechanic. One of these OFs also added, “It is fun though, working with other people’s money.”   

One of the disadvantages, with OFs continuing to work after retirement, is having the OF’s reflexes slow down. This normal aging process brings on its share of scrapes, cuts, and bruises.

Another OF at the table Tuesday morning had quite a cut and bump right between the eyes. After the normal kidding — was it the wife or a jealous husband that caused that gash? — it was found out that the OF walked into a forklift.

That is not an even clash. The forklift probably weighs five tons, and the OF about 180 pounds. Guess who wins? The OF claims he saw the lift but could not either stop, or duck quickly enough. Ouch!  That whack had to smart. The OFs wonder if this OF saw stars.

Another OF said these normal bangs, cuts, and scrapes are signs of an active person. This OF said, “Thank goodness these guys are up to being able to work and take their chances. It is better than the rocking chair and TV.”

Lessons learned camping

The OFs harkened back to a time in their youth when many of them, as kids, were taken camping. Then the OFs as YFs took their families camping so they could develop into responsible adults.

The OFs who participated in this family endeavor recommend it highly for many reasons. The youngsters learn to live without all the necessities of home — there are only cold showers, no hair dryers, toast was made on a fork over an open flame, and a skunk could have the run of the campsite while the family just sat there and watched.

Taking hikes, going fishing,  making new friends, Mom and Dad can teach their kids a lot about living with less, the same as the OFs learned from their parents. And, to the OFs’ parents, it was not camping —  living with less was a way of life.

Stuff with strings attached

Another thing about getting older is how hard it is to downsize. The OFs talked about how, as they grew older, their bodies became magnets.

“Stuff ”just came to them; how they accrued so much junk they have no idea. Now the problem is how to get rid of it. It is too good for the dump (according to the OFs); the kids don’t want it — in fact, nobody wants it, the OFs say. For example: the infamous pool table, and the old piano. This is just “stuff,” but good “stuff.” (Maybe.)

One OF said, “It’s ironic how the OFs claim much of what is made today will not last, and here we are trying to get rid of it because it has outlasted its usefulness.”

Another OF added it is not the “new,” which he has no qualms about hauling to the dump; rather, it is the “old stuff.”

An OF spoke up and said, “If you haven’t used it in 20 years and it is just there taking up space, and it has been there so long you don’t even see it, you OG, haul it to the dump!”

The first OF replied, “I can’t do that; ‘stuff’ is part of me.”

The other OF said, “Go on a cruise for a couple of weeks and have the kids come in and clean house and I bet you won’t even notice most of it is gone.” One of the many frustrations of growing old is getting rid of the old.

Those Old Men of the Mountain who found their way through the maze of their accrued treasures to the Duanesburg Diner in Duanesburg were: Roger Chapman, Roger Shafer, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Bill Lichliter, Chuck Aelesio, Richard Frank, Harold Guest, Gerry Irwin, Herb Bahrmann, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Mace Porter, Jim Heiser, George Byrnes, Wayne Gaul, Ted Feurer, Jake Lederman, Bob Benninger, Bob Fink, Elwood Vanderbilt, Mike Willsey, Harold Grippen, and me.