I used to wonder why old people were so persistently grumpy. Every minor glitch in the day became an overblown ordeal, from being shorted 3 cents at the grocery store to scrutinizing a bill at the
restaurant as everyone else at the table squirmed in their chairs.
“C’mon, Mom/Dad….I’ll give you the 3 cents,” I said once. Well,
probably more than once.
These people appeared to be looking for trouble. Much like little kids at the other end of the age spectrum. Almost like they knew it
would be lurking around every corner, scrunched behind half-closed doors, just waiting to jump out and scare the bejesus out of them.
But, no, they didn’t want my pennies or my interference while they spent 20 excruciating minutes going over every item on the check with the waiter (and it is a WAITER to them, not a SERVER, none of that PC nonsense welcome here) in an attempt to prove….what?
About 3 years ago, as I was knocking on the door to 60, I began to get it. I figured out what they (now, WE) are trying to prove.
THAT WE’RE NOT IDIOTS!
I find myself sighing in the face of the 16 year old cashier who can’t count back change and just shorted me a nickel, trying to decide if it’s worth it to even go there. And after being shorted all my adult life, I reached a point in time, and in line, when I had simply had enough. It
became time to take a stand. That child behind the counter, the one who was hired to take money and GIVE CHANGE, needs to know that I know she/he is doing it wrong and that, although it was only a ickel, it might have been $5 for all she knew….literally.
Much like the person in the cell phone superstore who sighs dramatically in my face, trying to make it sound like I JUST DON’T
UNDERSTAND. So, they keep repeating the same words, over and over, as people behind me mutter and grouse, all hoping that I will simply give up and slink away. With my problem still unresolved. Which means I would have to go home and get on the “customer service” line on the phone, and that is an entirely different sad story.
I’m a very fit 60+ person. But I have also learned through those many years of dwelling here that faster is not necessarily better. In fact, speeding through life is exactly that, and we miss a great deal of beauty and nuance that way. Translation: I walk slower than I used to. On purpose. Including at the mall. Where teenagers and overaged teenagers insist on walking on my heels in their haste to find more things to buy that they don’t need. Just walk around me, OK, and you can save the dirty looks for the cashier who will short you on your change. If you even notice.
I guess we have more patience with incompetence when we’re younger. We simply haven’t had time to get swallowed up by it yet. YET. And then we snap, sometime around 50 or 60.