The Old Man on the Roof (Day 276)

(photo credit: Anatevka-Fiddler on the Roof by Roel Wijnants on
I have never seen such a concentrated effort to get a job done.
The roofers arrived at 8 am to rip off the old shingles and replace them with new ones, on one half of our house. First one truck arrived. Two guys sat in the cab and waited. Another truck arrived. Then another. Then another. Nine guys all together.

I spoke to them briefly and off they went. Up they went. Banging and ripping and tossing and blowing and damn were they loud. I would’ve left the house if it weren’t for all the Thanksgiving prep I had to do. The silver wasn’t going to polish it itself now, was it?

When I left to run errands, I took a look at the crew. They worked really well together. It was the proverbial well-oiled machine. I’ve had roofers work on my house before and I’ve seen them on other houses, and never have I seen anything like this. They were a team, working together, talking to each other when necessary, getting the job done.

Just before I got into my car, I noticed that one of the guys on my roof looked different from the others. He had white hair and a beard and the body of a much older man. I couldn’t help but stare: he was working with the same vigor as the others, but I could swear he was 70 years old.

So this evening, when the contractor came by, I asked him about the guy. He confirmed that he was 70, that he’d been working for the company for almost 40 years, that before he did roof work, he was a Boston banker who didn’t like what he did. That’s when he changed careers. And never looked back.

Forget all the stuff you hear about all the things you shouldn’t do after a certain age. If you enjoy what you’re doing, keep doing it. If a 70-year old man can keep up with the 25 year olds on his crew, then he should. And he did.


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