Old guys who can fix things

When Darren’s father got out of the truck, I was dismayed.

This plumbing company is a father-son business. I was hoping that Darren was the father and that he was apprenticing his 20-something son. But Darren, in his late 40s, is the son.

His father is 75.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Donald, the dad, is not lacking any mental capacity; in fact, although he claimed to just be “along for the ride,” he kept pointing things out to Darren. They are both delightful, and I’m very glad I hired them.

The problem is that most all the people I know who can fix things are, well, old guys. In their 60s and 70s. And they’re all VERY BUSY.

My handyman, whom we dubbed Handy Randy, can fix damn near anything. But he is so much in demand that it’s hard to get him to the house, for weeks at a time.

I have an image of an apocalyptic future where we are all aimlessly roaming the streets, scrounging food from swamps, because not a soul left knows how to fix anything.

This isn’t just paranoia. The median age of workers in the sector, Personal and household goods repair and maintenance, is 52 years old. Two-thirds of the workers are over age 45, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

For two years I looked for someone to do blown-in insulation in my basement office. After several outrageous quotes from mid-sized companies, I finally found a local pest control guy, Ralph Gambrel, who also does insulation. He gave me a great quote.

He was honest, straightforward, and fun to talk to. Like my termite guy.

We agreed on the details of the job, and he said he’d be in touch soon to set a time. Then I didn’t hear from him.

After I left a couple messages, I got a call from his wife. Ralph dropped over dead a few days before Christmas.

He was only in his 50s.

I hope that Darren has at least 20 years left. I’m going to be very solicitous of his health.

Today’s penny is a 2013, the year that Handy Randy came into our lives.

Featured image of wrenches by Ildar Sagdejev / Wikimedia.