Many senior citizens are not able to drive anymore, but they still have things to do and places to go. Often, they use a cab to get to those places. They tend to know paths that the GPS would never imagine as possible, but their shortcuts do seem to lower the fare amount and you learn a shortcut or two.
One day I picked up a elderly gentleman from a small general goods store to take him home. He was old, but he looked younger than he really was. You could tell he was once lean and muscular and his wraparound sunglasses in the early evening showed that his eyes were very sensitive.
Lately the first thing people speak of is the harsh winter. He was no different.
"Ya know. You can complain about the weather, or can just accept it and worry about more important things," He said all this as he methodically bucked his seat belt.
"What would be a more important thing?"
"Can you get me home before the hour? I don't want to miss Gunsmoke. After Gunsmoke I have to watch Bonanza."
This led to a fascinating conversation. It turns out he is in his 90's and was a WWII veteran. In WWII he experienced extreme weather conditions that make our winter feel tame. As a man who has lived in the Chicago area all his life, he has experienced many record breaking summers and winters. He has outlived a wife, children and many friends. He does not make many friends anymore. He is tired of losing them while he lives on.
He pays good money for the cable package he has to watch one channel. He does not watch the news, sports, or movie channels. He watches one channel. The Western Channel. As a younger man he said he was always busy working and spending time with kids and grandkids that he never had time for his favorite westerns. "Now, all I have is time. Not sure how much, so I will watch all that I can while I can. For others, these are reruns, for me, it is the first run. Some of the movies they play are movies I saw in theaters. It was so long ago, that I don't remember them so it's like watching them for the first time."
We talked about our favorite westerns and actors. He was pleased to know I knew so many of his favorites. He turned the conversation and asked me what my favorite western is. I told him, The Shootist.
"You ain't no action junkie, boy. You are a connoisseur. The Duke, little Ronnie Howard, Becall, Stewart. That movie was an end of an era and a goodbye. It was a good death of a lot of things. I hope I have a good death. I led a good life."
I did not know how to respond to that. We were silent until we got to his driveway. A driveway that was well shoveled with his two arms. he made sure I knew that.
"Boy," he said as he paid,"You want to come in and watch Gunsmoke with me? Oh who am I kidding, you have a job to do. When are you off?"
I told him.
"Well, you come on over and I'll make hogies and you can bring a DVD. I got one of them players."
I asked him if he knew there was a new version of True Grit made.
"Now why did they go and do that? You bring that True Grit with ya. I can't waste no more time. Gunsmoke is about to start."