Troy N. Diggs
December 23, 2000
As a child, I was always taught to respect my elders. After all, theyve been around a lot longer, and they presumably know more. Im fine with that concept, and I try to do it as much as possible. But unfortunately, the elders sometimes dont respect us back.
There are some elderly people out there who Im sure are lovable grandparents to some kids out in Memphis. But theyre also pushy. Theyre under the apprehension that being elderly automatically means not having to put up with the annoyances of everyday life. This isnt right.
For example, last week, I was at the post office, buying stamps to mail out Christmas cards, and sending off a package to my new employer. At best, I think there were about 15 people in line at a given time, and I was in line for, oh, maybe about 15 minutes, 20 at the max. During that time, at least 10 older people walked into the post office, totally bypassed the line, and strutted up to the counter (even when someone else was already at the counter). Im still not quite sure just what they intended to accomplish by ignoring the line. If they had a quick question (Excuse me, wheres the stamp machine, for example), then sure, I could maybe forgive the breach of etiquette. But if you have to mail off 5 Christmas packages, then you have to get in line like everyone else to mail them off. The people at the counter apparently agreed with me, and when they said this to the violators, the older people acted as if someone had shot them in the stomach. If they were unwilling to wait in line at the post office, then what on Earth were they doing there in the first place?
Another great example is on the highways of the Mid-South. I believe your personal speed limit is pro-rated to your age. Between 16-21 (or so), youll fly down the road however fast you can. Between 21-30, youll go slightly over the speed limit; fast enough so that youll get to your destination faster, but not fast enough to trigger the radar gun of Mr. State Trooper. Between 30-55, youll go exactly the speed limit not because youre afraid of getting a ticket, but because its what the sign says to do. After 55, you end up driving 15 miles BELOW the posted speed limit. In the fast lane (sometimes; there are some folks that simply cant make up their mind and choose to take their half of the road out of the middle). When pass these people, they look at you like where the hell are you in such a hurry to get to even though youre doing the speed limit. They also believe in what Jerry Seinfeld calls the eventual left (blinker on from the second they leave the house), and the last minute exit (cutting across 4 lanes of traffic to get on the offramp). I firmly believe they should retest drivers at the age of 55, and every 5 years thereafter. It would help us all.
There are tons of other examples of the elderly abusing the younger generations; in the last week, Ive had elderly people push me out of the way when I tried to open the door for them attempting to use the UScan at Kroger, when theyve never done it before paying for $3 worth of groceries with a check, or with change and Im sure weve all been there. And I know its not all older people who do that, because theres a whole bunch of really, genuinely, truly kind older people out there, who have a lot to teach us.
I just wish theyd also teach some of their fellow elderly because after all, theres a huge difference between having carte blanche to do whatever you want and being nice.