Monday, February 18, 2008

Yes, old people hate me, too

Today I stopped briefly at a Dunkin Donuts to grab a cup of coffee. Yes, it's true, sometimes I'm unfaithful to my regular coffee buzz at Mayorga. This time, DD was right there and I had a splitting headache. Since the car accident, I've found that on days when my back is really killing me, I end up with brain thumping headaches that near migraine pain levels. They come on suddenly and with accompanying nausea to beat the band. Fortunately, I've discovered that a cup of coffee will quell at least a measure of the nastiness.

As I walked in, I noticed there was a motley group of eight or nine people - mostly men - in their 70s and 80s at one table and a pair of oldsters at another table. As I hobbled up to the register, the motley guys started to discuss me:

"Who'd wanna date that fatass?"
"Is she yer girlfriend, Bob?"
"Oh hell, not a chance!"
"Heh, she's my girlfriend, hahahah - just imagine screwing that!"
"Oh god, I'd get lost in the fat, haw haw haw!"

Ooh, y'all just stepped on the toes of the wrong fat chick.

While my coffee was being poured, I turned around to the table and stared at them. They went silent, like children who had just been caught with their hand so deep in the cookie jar it would take a hammer to break 'em out.

At full conversational level I addressed them:

"You know, just because I'm fat doesn't mean I'm deaf, and just because you're old doesn't mean you get a pass for being rude."

Several heads were bowed. Again, like children, caught.

The one woman in the group shrilly yelled, "I'm sorry, but we're old!"

I shook my head at them and said, "Oh, come on!"

One man quietly muttered, "I'm sorry." But no one said anything else.

I got my coffee and started to leave, but then, I stopped. I went over to their table and angrily spoke to them again. "You know, my mother was a veteran of the Second World War - she would be your age if she was still alive. And you know what? In her later years - to her dying day - she never believed that age gave you a right to be rude. And she never used her age as an excuse to say crap to anyone on the basis of their appearance. You should be ashamed of yourselves."

The other table of oldsters had been staring at them coldly throughout their mocking bullshit, and they continued to stare at them as I left.

When the clerk handed me my coffee, she told me they'd called her "white trash" earlier and she thanked me for having said something to them.

Look, I know there are cultures that respect older people simply for being old. I've worked in some of those cultures in Central Asia. And, when I'm there, I play by the local rules.

I'm not there now.

Here's my deal: whenever possible, I grant courtesy to the elderly. My heart aches when I see people dealing with the difficulties of age. I used to cry in Moscow when I saw grandmothers the age of my own mother, trying to survive by selling anything they could out on the street. Absolutely broke my heart.

But, respect? Now, respect is something I grant when warranted. There are plenty of lovely old people in this world. There are plenty of lovely young people in this world. There are plenty of lovely old and young people living good lives, doing good things, being good people. However, there are also a lot of arrested-development asshole-ish old and young people in this world. And frankly, I don't really care if you're twenty or fifty or eighty, you don't get my respect if you mock me (or call the clerk at the donut shop "white trash" for that matter.)

On the other hand, I'll show you what self-respect is about, buster. If you fought in World War II, you sure as hell know what standing up for decency is about. And being indecent to a stranger makes you look a complete fool.

And my mom will be waiting on the other side to kick yer ass.


Fiercely yours,



Real Live Lesbian said...

Go get 'em, Sister!

You really should have stepped on the closest one's toes.

Anonymous said...

You totally rock my friend. I admire your courage to defend yourself, your amazing self-esteem. I love you and your feisty self.

J.M. Tewkesbury said...

Have I mentioned that you're my hero! Seriously, Merujo. You totally rock. I'm sorry you were treated poorly by small-minded people. Your right: age doesn't excuse their behavior. Good for you for calling them out and standing up to them.

Anonymous said...

Three snaps in a "Z" formation to you.

I only wish I had your courage to stand up for myself when needed.

Sudiegirl said...

You know, I respect you so much for standing up.

My grandparents would use that "old" excuse too, and I would always shoot back at them, "You're older, you have more experience and you should know better."

That shut 'em up for a minute.

Oh rock on mah sister friend! Fight the good fight!

Jamy said...

As they say, it's easy to be an asshole.

Thank for standing up for yourself and not letting that ugly unkindness pass.

Anonymous said...

People don't get smarter as they get older - they simply get older. And it's funny that they were accusing someone else of being trash.

Good for you for standing up for yourself.

May those assholes have swampass for the next two weeks straight.

Chuck said...

Go Merujo GO! And I hope your headache went away and your back is feeling better. I've been trying a new chiropractor but haven't been too impressed.

OldHorsetailSnake said...

Sudie girl sent me over, and now I know why. You're a good one....

Anonymous said...

Hopefully that group isn't there come Tuesday

**Public Service Announcement**
Your Fix Is In:

A certain upscale, green-logo'd mackaccino chain will be closing its doors on Tuesday night, February 26, for a mass barista training exercise (stop inhaling the retail, kids?).

You can tell your friends most likely to explode into a caffeine-withdrawal freak-fit that Dunkin' Donuts will be filling in with a 99¢ latte/cappuccino special from 1-10PM. And you know, chocolate-glaze donuts with pink sprinkles, 24-7.

kristen said...

Good for you!

I've always believed quite firmly that you show other people respect at all ages until they prove you wrong.

"We're old" is only an excuse for physical infirmities, never bad behavior. And sometimes older folks can be pretty darn rude. Thank god you put them in their place.

Being a jerk is unfortunately ageless.