Let me just preface all this by saying there are several old people I know that I’m quite fond of in the same way that there are several middle-aged people I like and one or two teenagers I like and even some kids that I don’t mind being around. But, as a general group, old people are very annoying.
I do realize that it won’t be long before I’m old and annoying – by heck, some people already think I’m old and annoying – so I should be more compassionate and respect my elders and everything. And, please understand that I’m almost always superficially kind to old people no matter how annoying they’re being.
- You can’t tell the elderly anything. By virtue of having lived forever, they know it all, and have solidly immutable, and often completely bat-shit carzy opinions on absolutely everything. (They’re kind of like teenagers that way.) The other day one of my neighbours was waiting for the #148 bus at Billings Bridge. With scheduling still all messed up there wasn’t going to be a #148 for at least 3 ½ more hours. I told him this and pointed to the large, revised schedule posted in front of him, but he wouldn’t believe me. Along with the posted schedule, the interim schedule has been advertised in every possible format for weeks. The normal time for the #148 to have come was long gone. But he knew what he knew. I suggested he take the other bus with me so he’d get home before dark, but he refused telling me I was totally wrong. Fine, rot in the bus shelter old man. (I didn’t say this out loud. See how kind I can be?)
- Old people should not be allowed to shop for their own groceries. They can’t reach anything, they can’t read the ingredient lists, they don’t understand why there are no price tags on anything anymore and they take forever in the check-out lines. They only buy 3 items at a time because that’s all they can carry, but it takes them a good half hour to discuss each item’s price with the cashier; search for their wallet; search for the money in their wallet like it’s the first time they’ve ever used the thing; count out change to the penny (usually getting it wrong the first 3 or 4 times, thus having to start all over); and then putting everything back to where it belongs (very slowly) and looking through their grocery bag to make sure they have everything, all whilst standing in front of the cashier so she can’t carry on with the next person.
- Old people and cars are a lethal combination. It always scares the crap out of me to see some doddering old couple shuffle their way to a parking lot and spend much of what’s left of their precious time on earth trying to remember where they left their giant boat of a car. Then they do the endless, fumbling search for their keys. Then it takes them ever so long to get the key into the lock. They always, but always have some tiny item to put into the trunk, too, so they have to go through the whole procedure with 2 locks. By the time they finally get themselves actually into the car, several small Slavic countries have changed names at least twice. Now these people are on the road! Cruising along at 20 kmp. Running into posts and kids (Never into other old people, funnily enough). Oblivious to red lights, stop signs, yield signs and cross-walks.
- Old people think that just because they’re old they’re automatically interesting. So they tell you their 5 stories over and over and over again every time they see you. And none of the stories are the least bit interesting. Probably, they’ve done some interesting stuff in their lives. They couldn’t have only done 5 things in 80 years, now could they have? But, it seems they’ve conveniently forgotten all the good stuff. My theory is because the good stuff doesn’t fit in with their image of themselves as the upholders of righteousness and moral fibre.
- Old people are always on the lookout for some misdemeanor to bring to the attention of the authorities. They’re forever calling the police on stuff like kids not walking on the side of the road facing traffic. Or alerting the postmaster general when their mail is delayed by more than 10 minutes. Or complaining to the condo board because they can’t sleep because someone’s cat is purring too loudly. And those who have computers only get them so they can call the help desk every day to complain about how the machine isn’t doing what they want it to. They only go to restaurants because they’re always guaranteed a rich minefield of complainables in restaurants.
- The elderly are rude. There, I’ve said it. So sue me. Old people pretend not to understand the concept of taking turns. They blithely jump queues on buses or in stores. They interrupt cashiers or restaurant servers who are busy with someone else, and demand to have their problem seen to immediately. They push and poke and prod people with all their sticks and carts and wheelie thingies. And they get away with it all because who’s going to call out some old person? Kids, that’s who. Once when my daughter was little, we were waiting in line for something and some old lady shoved my daughter to the ground in an effort to get in line in front of us. My daughter, very indignantly yelled, “HEY! That old lady pushed me down!” Everyone glared at the woman. In your face you old bat. No, I didn’t say that out loud either.
Despite it all, I enjoy having old people around. They make me feel young and sprightly and superior. And that’s something no amount of money can buy.