Wednesday, February 08, 2023

Must not refer to an old person's age

A furious outburst from an old lady below. If the "offensive" remark had been made to me I would have smiled at the joke rather than taking offence. If I had said anything, I would probably have said something along the lines of "I wish I WAS still young". I am 79

My 68-year-old husband is affable by nature, so he moves fairly easily through the world. He can strike up a conversation with just about anyone and knows most of our local shopkeepers by name. That’s why I was surprised when he returned from running some errands recently not just flustered, but upset.

“I was queuing at the bakers, minding my own business” he told me, “Then, when it was my turn, the bloke behind the counter said, ‘And what can we do for you, young man?’”

Being 65 myself, I knew exactly why he felt so outraged and humiliated. This may surprise those of you who are still young (it’s a very temporary state, so be warned) but those of us you think of as old do not go about our lives thinking of ourselves that way. We think of ourselves just as we always have – as we did when we were 14 or 40 or 25. Our outsides might have changed but our essential selves are just the same. It is always a shock when we find ourselves being treated differently simply because of the length of time we have spent on the planet.

However, the young (“not that young”, as my husband hastened to emphasise) shop assistant’s remark was particularly offensive because of the many ignorant assumptions it contained. The first is that old people are all desperate to be thought young. This is a delusion held by those who have never grown old (or even up).

Yes, there are downsides to being older, but there are also benefits, and that is true of any age. Anyway, as there is sod-all any of us can do about the passage of time, we may as well make the best of it. And, if we are lucky enough to be reasonably financially secure, most of us do.

Moreover, unless you die young, all of us will get old. Therefore, it is absurd to feel sorry for those who have lived longer than you. We neither want nor need your pity because we know we are lucky. We are still alive




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