What are the problems of old age in "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place"?

In "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place," according to the waiter, the problems of old age are finding a place where one can sit with dignity and have a drink. In this clean, well-lighted place, an old person can avoid the fear of nothingness that comes from being alone in a dark room.

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Two waiters in a café wait for the last customer, an old man of about eighty, to leave. The younger waiter is impatient to get home to his wife, but the older waiter is reluctant to close up shop because the old man is still there. Unlike the younger waiter, he doesn't want to push the old man out.

The younger waiter says the old man can go to a bodega. The older waiter says, yes, but that's not the same as sitting at the café. The café has everything an old man needs: it is quiet, it is clean, it is well lit, and it has tables and chairs. A bodega is noisy and has music, and the old man would have to stand at the crowded bar.

The older waiter, who feels this himself, understands why the old man wants to linger at the café. When he goes home to his dark room, the nothingness of life will oppress him. The older waiter is willing to be inconvenienced to give the old man some more time to sit in peace.

The older waiter has developed a compassion and empathy for the elderly that the younger waiter, who hasn't experienced loneliness and simply wants to get home, doesn't share.

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