I have had my fair share of experiences with old people and not all of them are bad in fact many were/are inspiring while others are downright rude, obnoxious and mean. All my life I have been surrounded by old people heck I cannot look back at my life without seeing them stationed in every aspect of my life, the good, the bad, the ugly, the wonderful, all serving as teachers in one way or the other and representing some of the cornerstones to my philosophy. What bugs my ass are some of these older folks that feel that “OLD” is an entitlement that somehow exempts them from exercising good manners, respect and decency.
Recently I have been the unwilling recipient of what feels like “the entitlement of Old” phenomenon. It is a trend that seems to be picking up momentum or I have officially stepped into another dimension where being “Old” triumphs all and everything else is damned.
One day as I waited for the streetcar to go to work I was shoved aside by one old lady in her attempt to get into the streetcar first. I kid you not; I was literally body chucked slamming me into the streetcar. I did not see her; she seemed to appear almost out of nowhere as the streetcar arrived. I looked at her and said, “excuse me, please don’t shove me, if you would like to go ahead of me simply ask and I will allow you to go, but do not shove me”. To which she snarled, “am blind and old, I have to get in”. I looked at her, she stared at me and I said “for one you are looking at me right now so you are not blind, secondly old is not an excuse for rudeness, you have my permission to go ahead of me but please be mindful not everyone will excuse your behavior simply because you are old”.
Another time I boarded the streetcar and there was one seat left by an old lady. I did not want to sit straight forward because I had a few bags with me and it would have been uncomfortable sitting forward so I sat sideways which meant that my back was to her. I did not lean on her or touch her in anyway however within seconds I heard grumbling but paid it no mind as I chuck it up to her talking to herself however as I sat there I was able to make out some of what she was saying. The woman was cussing at me because she took it as a personal attack because my back was to her. She felt I deliberately slighted and dismissed as though she was not good enough because of the way I sat. I simply sat there quietly urging the streetcar to move faster. I said nothing as she continued her tirade of verbal lashings. I thought ‘this is not about you, this is about her, don’t engage, just let her talk, take a deep breath, one more stop and you are there’. I reached my stop, got up and made my way to the front of the packed car all the while her voice trailing me, as I exited the car we made eye contact and I said, “Have a nice day”.
I don’t know if it’s in the air, heck at this point who knows? It is just incredulous I mean I had one woman come into the streetcar that was virtually empty with dozens of seats available and chose to come and stand in front of me and demand that I get up and give her the seat I was sitting in. I thought to myself ‘oh hell no, Satan be gone’. There were at least 10/12 seats in front of me and another 15-20 behind. She looks at me and says “I want to sit here, get up and let me sit”. I looked at her, the empty seats in front of me, the empty seats beside me and the empty seats behind me; I took a deep breath observing the people sitting around in other seats to which she approached neither of them. I did not respond to her. I turned my head forward and kept my eyes straight ahead. She stood there beside me almost bearing down. I did not respond. I no longer looked at her. I simply sat there staring straight ahead and praying for patience and the will to keep my temper in check. Eventually she got the message and realized that I was neither going to move or respond to her and she chose to sit somewhere else. Now I know exactly what that experience was-I simply chose not to name it or acknowledge it.
I could go on but I don’t want to bore you to death regaling the abusive intrusiveness of these experiences on my psyche. My point is only that while I have tolerance and compassion for the elderly their advance age does not excuse their bad, disrespectful and abusive behavior. “Old” age is not an exemption of the human character of compassion and tolerance and it is not an entitlement with an all access pass to diminish others.
Link to Angry Old Lady Photo