During my pre swim "de-dress" and post swim "re-dress," I get to enjoy the spirited banter that doubtlessly occurs in the male locker room. Interestingly, I'm an anomaly in this group. The overwhelming majority of these men could be my grandfather. They are from a generation that endured the hardship of the Depression, tempered by the horrors of world war and succeeded in helping build one of the world's great industrial democracies. And from the diversity of English accents, I know some are not in the country of their birth. But to the young, impressionable listener, they have lessons to share and wisdom to offer.
Sometimes I wonder if the locker room is akin to the old barber shop -- a communal gathering place for men to shoot the crap and reflect on the state of things. It generally seems to be that way. The talk ranges from families, military service and sports to opinions on current events and society. Certainly the "old days were better" sentiment is endemic among the older generations, though, in some aspects, I don't totally dismiss their claim.
I was once told that you can't learn anything if you're talking, so I go about my business in the locker room while keeping an attentive ear on the collective conversation. One day a gentleman was lamenting about his grandson -- the particulars I didn't catch -- but later the same man made a comment about how how his grandson's generation doesn't have the work ethic as the older generations did. Everything comes too easy. In a society that tends to overhype and water down what achievement constitutes, I am somewhat sympathetic to this man's view. Of course I do think my generation brings many positive attributes to society, and when the time comes, we'll ably lead our businesses and country.
Maybe one day I'll contribute to the locker room conversation. For the time being, though, I'm just happy listening.