My growing frustration with the elderly despite my overwhelming respect for them…

6 Dec

I’m going to preface this babble by stating I love old people.  Really, truly, honestly- I do.  I love hanging out with them.  I love hearing their stories.  I love their quirks- and the feistier they are, the better.

But my patience with them as a whole is starting to wear thin.  I don’t want this to happen- but it is.  I’m trying to cling very hard to my love and respect for them… but it’s fading.  Fast.

This really started to set in a few months ago when traveling overseas, and I got stuck on a flight from Los Angeles to France with a tour group of retired seniors (you can view that blog post here) .  That experience broke something in me that was never able to repair itself.  And recently, it’s gotten worse.

Earlier this week, I was frantically running errands with Sully.  He was complaining about not feeling well, but we had a very tiny window where I was able to get to his doctor to pick up his prescription for his meds (because of the medication type, the doc can’t just call it into the pharmacy), then drive 45 minutes in wretched traffic back to the pharmacy down the street from our house to get the prescription filled.  This was the only time I could do it- no exceptions.  We get to the pharmacy, and this woman who was older than dirt was in line in front of me with an expired prescription trying to figure out what to do.  I stood behind her for 15 minutes, Sully feeling sicker and sicker, while this relic was completely baffled as to why the pharmacist couldn’t give her the pills.  FIFTEEN FUCKING MINUTES of her not understanding the basic rules of medication dispersment…. and then Sully threw up.  Right in the store.  We could have been home by the time he threw up if it wasn’t for this woman’s complete inability to function.  Then she had the nerve to turn around and say to me with complete disdain, “Sick children should be home in bed!”.  It seriously took every ounce of effort I had to not knock her the fuck down and shove her face in the vomit.

And then there’s driving.  Do I need to go into driving?  Yeah, I think I do.  I will be the first to admit that I’ve got some “road rage” issues.  I’ve thrown random objects from my car that were in grabbing range at other cars.  I’ve gotten in screaming matches while sitting at red lights.  I use my middle finger as much as I use my turn signal (and I use my turn signal religiously).  Driving rules exist so that everyone is safe and the flow of traffic stays at a low level in order for everyone to reach their destination in a timely manner.  When the rules of driving are ignored, that’s when accidents occur.  Old people ignore the rules.  Speed limits don’t exist to them.  They don’t know what the fuck to do in a parking lot.  And changing lanes on the highway is completely beyond their comprehension.  I have no patience for this.  EVERY FUCKING TIME I left the house this past week, I was behind some elderly person driving 25 mph in a 45 mph street.  I’m not kidding.  Every time.  Sully and I were walking through a parking lot last week, crossing at the pedestrian crosswalk, and an old woman almost ran us over.  She stopped just short of hitting us… then when I slammed my fist onto the hood of her car and screamed “WATCH IT!!!”, she had the nerve to roll down her window and yell “How dare you hit my car!”- to which I replied “How dare you almost kill my son!  He’s more important than your fucking car!”.  (Yes, I punch cars when they almost hit me… this has almost gotten me in many fights- which I feel is ridiculous because their car could do so much more damage to me than my fist could do to it).

I’m losing patience with this age group.  I don’t want to lose patience- but I am.  The previously mentioned irritants reek of a disrespct for the other people that exist in society.  “I’m old, and I’m going to just shuffle around and make the rest of the world wait while I refuse to function”.  Is that insensitive of me?  Maybe- but like I said, I’ve just about had it.  And when my kid is vomiting in stores or almost getting run over because of these people’s inability to function- my sensitivity to their plight wears thin.  Plus, I don’t need another reason to not want to leave the house- and they are becoming another one of those reasons.

I don’t ever want to be one of these old non-functioning people.  I have a multitude of ideas of hilarious things to do with my body if I die young.  But I now have a plan for if I reach the age of 70.  At age 70, I figure I’ve done just about everything I’m going to do… and I’m not going to be one of those “healthy and active” senior citizens like my parents.  I smoke, I eat like shit, I don’t get enough sleep, and I already have health problems- so by 70, I’ll be a god damn train wreck.  So for my 70th birthday, I will treat myself to a trip to Paris (I’ve been there before, and I LOVE it).  Once in Paris, I will spend a couple days seeing my favorite sights, and then shuffle on over to the eiffel tower.  I will climb my broken body as high as they will allow me to go, look for the most obnoxious and irritating American tourist, then throw myself off the tower, aiming to land directly on that tourist.  This way, I go out with a bang, and rid the world of having to put up with my “old person bullshit” (and take out an obnoxious tourist in the process… trust me, Paris is crawling with them and can stand to lose one or two).  It’s an all-around win situation.  And it’s funny.  When I go… I’d prefer it be with a laugh.

That is my story, and that is my plan.  So 40 years from now, if you open the paper and read that some crazy old American threw herself from the eiffel tower… you’ll know I got my way.


15 Responses to “My growing frustration with the elderly despite my overwhelming respect for them…”

  1. whitney December 6, 2008 at 7:38 pm #

    old people are great, but i do agree with you on all of what you said because it’s happened to me too.

    as for the driving, i think there should be a law passed stating when a person reaches the age of 55 or 60, they should take a vision and driving test every 3 years or so to see if they’re fit for the road.
    i think with the times changing and so many crazy drivers out there, some old people are just outta the loop…. like with a lot of what’s going on these days….. cell phones, computers. they don’t get a lot of it… and i think cars/driving is starting to take a shit on them too.

    and looking like a “hooligan” doesn’t help win them over sometimes too. i’ve had grumpy old people shake their canes and me and huff and puff while staring at me walking by. it’s ‘tarded.


    ps- i’m gonna try and catch you at the bottom on the eiffel tower.

  2. daMamma December 6, 2008 at 8:20 pm #

    I hear you on the “old people” thing. There is nothing worse than being stuck behind one that just refuses to get their brain out of park when you have a sick child in tow. Your frustration level is already reaching its limits, and that can easily push you right on over the edge of reason.

    Old people in cars? I don’t care if it is not politically correct, or even nice and respectful of their age, but when they reach 60-65 yearly eye and driving exams (both written and road) should be done. When they can’t see or function properly behind the wheel, their car is impounded. Period. Auctioned off, they can have the proceeds, but NO car. Nothing scarier than an old person who can’t figure out how to turn the wipers on, or what a directional is, or which side of the road they should be driving on.

    If I get to be like that, just dig a hole in the back yard, shoot me and roll the body into it. When one becomes useless to society, sucks up everyone’s resources and who’s only contribution is spreading rotten attitudes and crankiness, it is time to go on to the next station.

  3. Kristen Ferrell December 6, 2008 at 9:35 pm #

    Hahahahah!!! Da mamma… you crack me up!! And Whitney… you can try to catch me, but you’re only a few years younger than me… and I’d hate to break your hip with my crash landing. 😉

    But seriously, I’m fully behind mandatory driving testing every few years past a certain age. My grandma (not the one I make scary artwork about, but the one who was nice to me) had Alzheimer’s, but before we were aware of the extent of it, she totaled her car because she forgot her way home from the store and ran a stop sign or something (I was young so I don’t remember all the details). And yes, she had a valid driver’s license. She could have killed people… not intentionally- but because her mind just wasn’t what it used to be.

    I would have no problems with my taxes being raised to fund a state run shuttle or car service to get the elderly who aren’t fit to drive to and from where they need to be. Except for the old lady at who scolded me after Sully puked in the store… she can fucking walk.

  4. christine December 7, 2008 at 5:56 am #

    Ahh, old people. I do love them but at times they do frighten me. Some of them are so sweet and nice, and some of them are awful, senile and downright MEAN!! One of my favorite things about what I do is meeting with families, but at times, these old people make me want to jump out a window into oncoming tractor trailer traffic.

    ..and the driving thing?? hell yeah, retest them. My old boss (who was 85) used to insist on driving. SCARY.

  5. Emily , loyal KF customer! December 7, 2008 at 9:27 am #

    Hi Kristen! This is my 1sy time commenting here, I hope you don’t mind if I get in on this rant!
    I used to rally behind seniors’ right to drive. My poor grandma sat helplessly as the family took her car away (she had stopped driving for the most part anyway, but it’s still a blow to the ego).
    But then one day I found myself going 11mph down a 35mph sidestreet, caught behind some lady just short of 109 years old. And as I was soothing myself with the remembrance of my poor grandma’s pride, and priding myself on my patience to go 11mph without passing illegally, the little 109 year old bat ran a stop sign & crushed the head of a slow-moving squirrel. After which she proceeded to putter away, leaving me sitting at the stopsign she just ran, watching the death-throes of the squirrel she had unknowingly murdered.
    And the sad part is, there was a much younger woman sitting in the passenger’s seat of the old bat’s car! Why wasn’t the younger woman driving? At least she might have been able to see over the steering wheel!
    I do respect the elderly, but I respect responsibility more!
    Thanks for the chance to bitch a bit!

  6. chelsea rae December 7, 2008 at 9:42 am #

    We have an elderly woman who frequents the coffeeshop who
    always pays in change (how stereotypical, right?) But it’s how she does it that is the worst. She dumps her little granny change purse (which, no joke, always has Werther’s Originals in it) out on the counter, completely oblivious to the line forming behind her. Thankfully, she lets us count it for her, but inevitably, she points out that it must be a ‘real bother’ for someone to pay in change.
    At this point you’re thinking, aww, what a cute little grandma, with her extra-pink blush & her happy little grandma dentures & her hard candies, how adorable!
    But then, the entire time you’re counting out her pile of pennies & nickles, she chuckles maniacally! Like, cute little evil grandma giggles, implying to me, that she’s just Kristen Ferrell as an old lady, & totally doing this on purpose.
    Thank god she doesn’t drive. I’m afraid to think of what would happen if we didn’t have paratransit to help her around.

  7. Kristen Ferrell December 7, 2008 at 11:38 am #

    Yay Emily!! Welcome to the ranting!! We’re happy to have you here! 🙂

    I don’t understand why the old folks drive so slow. I would think that the closer to death ya get, the more you’re willing to take chances. When I get old, my regular speed limit is going to match my age… so when I’m 60, I’ll drive at least 60 mph everywhere. Irresponsible?.. probably. But I won’t be holding up traffic.

    The problem is that many old folks aren’t aware (or don’t want to admit) that their mind isn’t what it used to be. They’ve spent the majority of their lives taking care of kids and grandkids- so they don’t want for the tables to turn and become the one being taken care of. This was the case with my Grandma (the one who totaled her car) and my Grandpa (who was married to my other Grandma that I do all the scary art about). He took his car out a few times on “phantom missions” to places that didn’t exist anymore or to go see people that were long gone. But for a child to tell a parent that they can no longer drive, or do things that are part of their daily routine doesn’t go over well. The only way we could have gotten my grandma’s car away from her was if she destroyed it. And getting her to move from her house she lived in for decades to a house close to ours was a nightmare. She didn’t understand that her mind wasn’t what it was, and she was a VERY VERY VERY proud and independent woman- so it was battle every step of the way.

    Chelsey… that old woman would drive me up a fucking wall. The first couple times would be mildly amusing… but after that I’d be seeing red.

  8. Tawni December 7, 2008 at 11:40 am #

    Oh, I relate to you. It’s like I’m in my own head, Kristen. My husband and I were stuck behind an elderly check-writing woman at the pharmacy the other day, who was talking on the phone while very slowly filling out her check. As in talk-talk-talk, write a few letters, stop writing, talk-talk-talk, write a few more letters. There were two lines for the pharmacy, and three people came and went in the line next to us while we waited for this woman to finish her cell phone conversation and write her check. Grrrr.

    Also- EVERYONE here drives at least ten to fifteen MPH under the speed limit, no matter what. They are usually old. They do it in the left lane, you know—the one for faster moving cars. Usually they do it in both the right and left lane, however, blocking me from passing anyone, and I nearly explode as I doot-doo-doo along behind them, wondering why nobody in this fucking state seems to be GOING anywhere. Surely if they had somewhere to BE, they wouldn’t be crawling along the roads like this… right? Right??!! Ahhhhhh!

    I’m to the point that I actually have an aversion to driving because it never fails to showcase the thing that makes me lose faith in humanity faster than anything- the inconsiderate, oblivious to the fact that there are other people in the world thing. Gah. My blood pressure’s up just typing about it. Deep breaths, deep breaths. I really need to start doing yoga again, I think. Or throwing thrift store-bought dishes against a wall somewhere. My mom always did that on the side of the barn on our farm, and it really worked for her. I’m serious. 🙂

  9. Kristen Ferrell December 7, 2008 at 11:59 am #

    Ooooh! Sidebar cute story about the dish-throwing: When Brad and I first started getting to know each other, he lived in LA and I lived in Kansas. When I finally allowed him to come and visit me, I picked him up from the airport, and he told me to go directly to a Salvation Army. He ran in, and few minutes later came running out with a gigantic glass lamp, a box of dishes, and a golf club. He then told me to drive outside of town to the middle of nowhere (which, Tawni, you know is easy to do in Lawrence because it’s surrounded by farmland and fields). I parked the car in a field, and he handed me the golf club and told me to start smashing everything he bought. I had just gone through a really brutal divorce, and was raising my son by myself while putting myself through college by working multiple jobs… and he thought I needed to relieve some stress. That pretty much sealed the deal on my totally falling for him.

    The one thing I like about LA is that everyone drives fast. The highway signs state 65 mph, but everyone goes at least 80. The regular city streets are 45 mph- people drive closer to 60. Everyone is in a hurry… but that’s why it’s SO dangerous when you’ve got that old person who is driving 25 mph. Not only are they completely fucking up all surrounding traffic, but they’ve got hundreds of high-stress angry drivers around them who start driving psychotically to get around them. U-turns in the middle of the road to get away from the old driver are a common sight (and something that I’ve done as well). It’s SUPER scary when the old folks can’t properly change lanes on the highway when you’ve got THOUSANDS of people on a 12 lane highway all going 85 mph. It then goes from maddening to dangerous. Let’s seriously get these folks off the roads. It’s not cool. At all.

  10. Simple Meditation Techniques December 8, 2008 at 4:56 am #

    You have some excellent content and a compelling writing style – keep up the great work!

  11. Sherry December 8, 2008 at 5:56 pm #

    I, too, love old people. It just seems that at a certain age, some become completely self-absorbed, entirely oblivious to the fact that there might be other people around them inconvenienced by their antics. Case in Point: The night before Thanksgiving, I went to a local restaurant/bakery to pick up a pie (with about 700 other people doing the same thing). Said restaurant requires that patrons go to the counter in the front to pay, which is also where bakery pick-ups are handled. I get behind an older gentleman paying for his meal. Apparently, the salad bar doesn’t count as a side in the combo deal. Oh well, right? Not for him. He spends about five minutes talking with the girl at the counter, asking why the salad bar had come up as extra. After that exercise in futility, the frustrated counter girl fetches the manager. Another five minutes spent arguing and muttering, “I don’t understand”. She gets a menu, and spends another five minutes pointing to things and trying to explain (at this point, my brain had shut down). Finally, they start taking those of us stuck behind him at a side counter. But, really? You can’t just pay a couple of bucks more and read the menu more carefully next time? Little stuff like that gets to me. 15 minutes of my life wasted because the salad bar doesn’t qualify as a side in the combo meal.

  12. Kristen Ferrell December 8, 2008 at 8:44 pm #

    Brad makes fun of me daily for my obsession with following the “rules of life”. The “rules of life” are all the little things we do that keep our lives as well as the lives of everyone around us running smoothly, therefore creating a better existence. Things like:
    *having your ATM card and deposit ready when you pull up to a drive through ATM so you don’t take a million years.
    *if you’re driving slower, keep to the right
    *if you don’t plan on turning right at a red light, don’t get in the right hand lane, blocking others who would like to turn right
    *not pushing your shopping cart down the middle of the aisle so that noone else can get through with their cart
    *not having the people at the post office package up your grandkid’s gift for you at the counter when there are 35 other people waiting in line behind you
    *not becoming best friends with every check out person in every grocery store, and telling them your life story- especially in the express lane… and when there is a huge line behind you
    *turn signals… they’re there for a reason
    *there is no need for anyone to write checks in stores or restaurants anymore… ever.
    *and yes, Sherry… if you have a problem with your bill at a restaurant/store/etc… take a manager aside and inquire so that the people behind you can get on with their life. Don’t hold up the planet to save $2. It’s just fucking rude.

    Do I need to go on? I could. I could write a book of lists just on this topic. The amount of time in a person’s life that is wasted because someone doesn’t follow these simple considerate “life rules” is astronomical. And unnecessary. And it’s what makes people apathetic to the plight of other humans, and eventually climb a bell tower, or start randomly firing a gun when stuck in traffic. People do have their breaking point.

  13. Cassie December 9, 2008 at 7:54 am #

    I agree totally with the following of the “life rules”! Come on folks! Turn signals are NOT there to look pretty or make the fun dinging sound for you so you can cheer yourself up!!!

    It’s also lovely when us parents who do not look like the “status quo” get disgusting looks and comments from the older crowd as well. When Lily was a baby we went to Denny’s (old folk HEAVEN). An older woman behind us actually had to nerve to say that people like me had no business having children. It took all I had (and my husbands hand over my mouth) to keep me quiet.

    I heart the elderly, I really do. They have seen more than us and have survived it, but that doesn’t mean they can do what they want at their chosen speed or say what they want just because of age.


  14. Emily, again :) December 11, 2008 at 9:01 am #

    Aw, thanks Kristen ~ *bashful* 😉
    That is very sensible explanation, pride is a very important quality to maintain at any age. In the case of my grandma, between her 12 younger siblings that she helped raise, her own 2 daughters, and the steady stream of offspring they produced, this is the 1st time she hasn’t been allowed to play the “mother” role. I cant’ even fathom how I would react to anyone I trust telling me I was too old to continue living the way I choose! I imagine it would involve matches.. 😉

  15. butcherbaby December 22, 2008 at 9:03 pm #

    i lived in Palm Desert for a few years. It’s near Palm Springs, and both of these cities (and several surrounding ones) are prime vacation/retirement areas for rich old farts, who are even worse than regular old people because they feel that rich = entitled. i didn’t have a car and had to bus, bike, or walk everywhere, and i quickly learned to assume that every driver was drunk, blind, and senile, and doubly so if they were old. apparently when you have boatloads of money you do indeed own the whole damn road and can drive however you like. i can’t count the times i was almost hit by white haired drivers in expensive brand new cars, and then given DIRTY LOOKS for having the audacity to assume a pedestrian in a mall parking lot has the right of way.
    my dad stopped driving when he was no longer able to do so safely, but with my mom it was a battle. she was a tiny little thing trying to drive a huge SUV, was beginning to show signs of dementia, and had already been in a couple of fender benders. we had to secretly sell her car behind her back. she wasn’t too happy about it, of course, but we had to do it before she ended up killing some innocent person. dementia hits hard & fast in her family (i’m adopted and have a completely different set of genetic time bombs to werry about) and within six months she had slipped so far we had to put her in a nursing home anyway.
    at least my husband’s young enough that if i do go batty, he’ll still be able to drive me around.

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