I’ve often wondered why old people are grouchy and why they seem to hate young people. I assumed it was the aches and pains of aging that made them so unpleasant.
After a few years of being “old”, I’ve decided there’s a different reason for their animosity.
As you age in America, unless you’ve acquired wealth and power, people begin to treat you like you don’t matter. It happens more and more to me now. It makes me angry. That anger makes me grouchy.
I find myself complaining and sometimes trying to cause someone trouble who has mistreated me. Someone who has treated me like I don’t matter, suddenly becomes the person who matters most to me at that moment.
It’s often little things, but I have no time or tolerance for slights.
This morning I met a friend for breakfast. The whole meal arrived. Her food was placed before me and I had to shove it over to her side of the table. Most of my food arrived, but not my biscuit. The waitress said it would be right out. After five minutes of waiting, I got up out of my seat and hunted down the waitress, who had no idea where my biscuit was. Another employee heard me ask her and that employee said the biscuits had just gone into the oven and it would be a few more minutes. By the time the biscuit arrived, the eggs were ice cold. But it didn’t matter, did it? I’m just an old woman at a rare meal out with a friend.
Then after I left the restaurant, I went to Food Lion. I actually drove past the Food Lion that always treats me so shabbily that I’ve quit shopping there, and drove past it to another Food Lion farther away. Yes! That was more like it. The store was nicer and I found most of what I wanted. I checked out. I came home and had to take my two dogs out. I put up the groceries. I was exhausted! I decided to have one of the powdered donuts I’d bought as a treat for my day. It was well after lunchtime and I hadn’t eaten lunch. I could not find the donuts. Nevermind that I’d had to take another plastic bag out to the car and divide the heavy, heavy cans of food the cashier had shoved into one bag. It was so heavy I could barely lift it into the car from the cart in the store parking lot. I could not carry it from the car to my house without moving some of the cans into another bag. And now my donuts were missing. I called the store and was quizzed about which register I used. How would I know that? It was the one with one of the cashiers working it. I got out my receipt and on it I saw Register 007. I said it looked like Register 7. The person who had answered the phone said yes, that Register had a bag left by a customer. It might have been 2 or 3 bags. Drive back to the store and pick it up. So I did. Or I tried to.
Did I mention I am now disabled? A trip to the store isn’t the easy trip it was twenty years ago. I was very tired. Exhausted! I went out to my car and drove all the way back to the store. I passed the shabby Food Lion I no longer go to and drove on to the nice Food Lion I had shopped at an hour earlier. I went to the cashier who had checked me out. I stood at the end of her counter. She was checking one person out and had no one behind that customer. She actively avoided looking at me. My eyes began to blur from the stress and exhaustion I felt. I saw a male employee just standing by a register. I went and asked him if he knew where Customer Service was? He pointed. All I saw in that direction was the Deli. “Is it in the Deli?” I asked in astonishment. No. He pointed again. My blurry eyes finally focused enough to see the small Customer Service sign. I walked halfway across the store and got in line behind two other people. The clerk seemed to know the first person in line and was chatting about his mother . . . I wondered if I’d pass out and thought if I did, it would serve Food Lion right. Finally the clerk quit his chatting and started to help the woman right in front of me. She was buying a lottery ticket but wanted to chat about that. As I stood there, another employee walked past and she looked like she might be a manager. She said “I’ll be back in five minutes. I’m going outside.” I stepped in front of her and asked if SHE could help me. I told her I’d left a bag or bags when I checked out. I said it was at Register 7. Well, she walked over to Register 7 and the cashier certainly noticed HER. She asked about left bags and the cashier laughed and handed her the bag with my donuts and $7 more of my items. I’d spent $60.She’d kept over $10 worth of my purchase. The cashier said she’d forgotten to put it on the counter. (I’d had to put the bags in my own cart, although at the shabby Food Lion, they do that for you.) She said she had left the bag in the bag holder, which was below the counter. There was NO way that bag was left behind because of anything I failed to do. It was never placed on the counter for me to lug into my basket to take to my car. I remembered how she’d quickly handed me my receipt and turned to flirt with the man behind me. I’d stood at the end of her counter and checked my receipt. I hadn’t dashed out of the store. If she’d been half paying attention to her JOB, she would have noticed the bag she failed to put on the counter.
But no, it was me who suffered for her mistake. I got no coupon. I got nothing but a “Have a nice rest of your day” yelled after me as I turned to leave. I didn’t even acknowledge her. No apology. No remorse from her.
I had a hell of a time merging onto the highway when I left. The sun was in my eyes and I couldn’t see. My vision was also still blurry. I had done too much and no one cared.
They fail to stop and think that if enough of us old people decide to boycott their store, they might not have a job themselves. I am boycotting Shabby Food Lion and now I will not go back to this one either.
There was a code on the receipt for me to do a survey about my experience at their store. I went online, filled it out, and went into great detail about how they’d made me feel.
Would I describe myself as “grouchy”? Did I over-react to having cold eggs with a long awaited biscuit? Was I wrong to expect an apology at Food Lion?
If that cashier was depending on me to patronize her store and insure that she keeps a job, she cannot depend on it. Old people cannot depend on younger folks to respect us or even act like we matter to them. After all, in their opinion, what do we matter?
Perhaps if enough of us voice our complaints, they’ll find out.