A handsome guy called Eric served me at the service station yesterday.
Instead of getting out of my car to pump my own petrol (or gas as some of you call it), Eric came and did it for me.
He cleaned my car's windscreen and checked the oil. He even asked if I wanted the tyres checked.
It's a shame I only get to visit this garage every now and then given it's so far out of my way. It's so quaint and unique and offers that old fashioned customer service that disappeared from service stations decades ago.
Every time I've been there Eric has been working. And while I knew that he was much older than your average attendant, he finally told me yesterday that he was 97 (and 3/4) years old.
I was floored.
He proudly said that he had been opening and closing the garage (which he owns) for 60 plus years. His only concession to his age is that he now goes home for lunch and has a power nap before he comes back to work.
He does this six days a week and he has no plans to quit or retire unless health forces him to do so.
While waiting, I heard him talking to another customer, a woman who looked to be in her 60s. When he wandered back to speak with me he referred to this lady as a "poor old dear".
Poor old dear.
He reminded me so much of my Nanna (grandmother Elizabeth). She was in her 90s and used to play cards once a week at a community centre. She would refer to some of the other ladies as "poor old dears" too. For a while there I thought there must be a lot of centenarians at her card games but when I finally met them I realised they were all a good 20-30 years younger than she was. She absolutely did not see herself as old. At all.
That may have had something to do with her attitude to life or due to the fact that her eyesight was so poor that she literally just never got to 'see' herself as old. (As an aside, she was given a cancer death sentence when she was in her early 40s. She did not listen to that either.).
When I got back home and checked my emails there was one from a PR agency reminding me that October 1 was the UN International Day of Older Persons. Never heard of it.
Reading about it made me wonder what an 'older person' is exactly? How old are you when you become 'an older person'?
Should 'old' be determined by a certain age? Because I know some 40 year olds who would not be able to keep up with Eric.
Given nearly every country across the World is grappling with an ageing population and people are being forced to retire later, perhaps we need to redefine who an 'older person' is.
Perhaps we need to reframe what older people are capable of doing. And are doing. Perhaps we need to see more people like Eric out there owning businesses and pumping petrol.
Personally, I think about ageing a lot even though retirement is more than a decade away. And for some reason it worries me.
When I spoke to Eric about this he said, "I never worry. Every day is just another day. Whatever happens, roll with the punches. Worrying never did anyone any good."
Before my Dad passed away he said exactly the same thing. He told me that the best advice he would give anyone is to stop wasting time worrying because most of it never happens anyway.
Is there a pill you can take to cure that affliction or are some people just born 'chilled'?
I need to worry less and laugh more. And keep working forever at something or other if that's what it does for you.
As it happens I didn't have to wait long to laugh more because when I drove off from the garage, I could hear Eric yell out, "See you again OLD GIRL", followed by loud, raucous laughter.
I laughed out loud. What a bloody cheeky young man that Eric is....
So how old is an 'older person' these days? Do you think of yourself as old?