I have something to say and it’s not going to be popular with everyone. I imagine it will either ring true immediately – or you’ll think I’m a horrible person; I don’t expect there will be any in between. Though there are, of course, exceptions to every rule (and it seems to be one extreme or the other)… I think disproportionately often elderly people are rude and obnoxious. There, I said it.
It’s like 70% believe their years spent on the planet are inversely proportional to the level of cordiality they should bestow on younger generations. (If you listen carefully you’ll hear my eyeroll.)
Not only that – in spite of their unforgivable lack of manners, I bet they’d be the first to wax lyrical about respecting our elders!
For balance, the other 30% I’d gladly adopt as my grandparents.
There have been many occasions in the past I’ve had these thoughts – usually when I’ve been on the receiving end of a geriatric with a superiority complex – and I’m sure I can’t be alone. Today I’m going to tell you about a specific incident. I hold my hands up that it’s the last straw for me and this post would never have been written had this particular event never taken place…
Life is Hard Enough, Without Their Added [email protected]
My life is a constant balancing act of being a mummy and also trying to steal moments of time to work; ‘steal’ being the operative word because it usually feels like I’m robbing time from my family. Such is the life of a self-employed, WAHM – a position I’ve chosen myself and wouldn’t change, but nonetheless is tough. We were visiting the in-laws and during my big girl’s nap I was going to spend a couple of hours working at the local coffee shop (assuming of course that Elfin would play ball and allow it; she often doesn’t).
I left Pixie with hubby and grabbed a few bits from the local supermarket before heading to the cafe. As hoped, Elfin nodded off during the shop – so far so good. Alas, she woke up as we arrived for my working ‘break’. Of course she did. This is not unusual, and I knew I’d have to attempt to get her back to sleep, or simply give up.
This scenario is a perpetual source of frustration and anxiety, but it’s my life and I don’t lose sight of the fact that working in this way has many benefits too.
Anyhoo, I went into the cafe and first approached the loo for a quick pitstop – it was occupied. Sigh. This is the other difficulty we parents with pushchairs have – it’s not easy to sit down and get settled and then nip to the toilet, because of the baby. So, I stood by the bar and patiently waited. And watched as the table I had my eye on (space for the pushchair; close to a socket; not too near a window that it would prevent me from seeing my MacBook screen; and by a wall for privacy) was taken by a couple. Sighhhh.
Patience is a Virtue, Apparently
As I resignedly rocked Elfin – just in case the planets felt sorry enough for me to align and send her back to sleep – Man One, who didn’t realise I was waiting, slipped straight past me to wait immediately outside the toilet cubicle. I gave an inward groan and continued to be patient.
I think since having a child patience has become my greatest achievement. Other than growing two humans, obvs.
Opposite where I was waiting Man Two, an elderly gentleman, was taking tea. He looked at me sympathetically and asked if there was somebody in the loo. I responded in the affirmative and looked around to see if any more tables had become available. And then a lady and a small child vacated the latrine and left the establishment. Hurrah.
The old man prompted me to go into the toilet now it was free, and I informed him that there was still somebody in there. I got the impression he was hard of hearing and missed what I said. He seemed quite agitated by my inaction and kept looking my way as though he thought I was crazy. His obvious irritation was making me feel awkward and I was silently urging the Man One to hurry so I could nip in, Man Two would understand, and all would be well with the world again.
When the Elderly Have No Patience, But Lots of Business
Finally, it became too much for Man Two. He rose and squeezed round my pushchair, vainly attempting to look into the toilet area. One of the ladies behind the bar caught my eye, gave me an understanding look, and rolled her eyes in his direction. The Man Two eventually made his way into the loo area and finally understood that the cubicle was, indeed, occupied. I breathed a sigh of relief as I watched Man One at last open the door, and prepared myself to finally use the facilities I’d so very patiently waited for – for about ten minutes by this point.
Man One exited the loos to leave, and then I heard the lady behind the bar gasp as the elderly ‘gentleman’ slipped into the cubicle, leaving me gaping in disbelief.
Elderly people are rude!
When Elderly People Are Rude and Have No Manners
Is it a big deal, really? In the grand scheme, it’s absolutely not the end of the world. But it 100% is incredibly rude.
But do you know what else causes bladder weakness? HAVING A BABY.
Okay, granted, I actually don’t have a problem in this respect since I gave birth. Thankfully. But the cheeky codger had no way of knowing that! Or that I didn’t have a baby laying in a pool of her own poo or vomit. The specifics are irrelevant – the point is, he was painfully aware of the fact I’d been waiting for some time and had missed my turn once already.
We all have our own private battles we’re fighting. Whatever that man’s are he has no excuse for such arrogance. If he was desperate and he’d asked, I’d have let him go ahead. But he had no way of knowing that I was not desperate – whether for myself or my baby. I’ve spoken before about chivalry, and how despite it not being necessary, I find it quite lovely. This man displayed the very opposite of that.
When Elderly People Are Rude and Have No Shame
I had a similar experience a couple of months ago:
I was in a coffee shop again (can you sense a theme?) with both my girls this time. I was heading to the public conveniences, when a (female) pensioner approached from behind. Admittedly I was not going super fast because, you know – toddlers. They’re infuriatingly slow, I know, alas that’s how little people are designed, same as they were sixty years ago when she was one herself.
As I was nearing the cubicle, the lady zipped in front of us and said ‘shall I just nip ahead of you’ – and it wasn’t a question.
I probably looked unimpressed. But with a resigned weariness usually reserved my toddler, I gamely ignored her – prompting her to follow up with ‘I’m not being rude, but I know what it’s like with children’.
Do you, Lady? So then you realise that having a toddler could very well mean urgency?
In which case, I was left wondering whether she was a bit demented maybe?
Again, as it happened, it wasn’t actually a problem. But she had no way of knowing that my newly potty-trained daughter wasn’t desperate and about to empty her bladder on the floor. Which would not only have been a royal pain in the backside in terms of the clean-up operation, but could also have had a massive effect on my little girl’s confidence. How dare she?
That level of obnoxiousness from an adult is completely baffling to me.
When Elderly People Are Rude and Have No Compassion
I know we’re supposed to respect our elders and by default I do, because I’m a good person. I respect everybody as a fellow human being until they give me reason not to. But I find on a disproportionate scale that older generations do not always extend the same courtesy.
And it pisses me off.
As a woman with a toddler and a small baby, also trying to work around my family, I don’t expect special favours. But do you know what? I do expect a basic level of common decency and respect. And I don’t think that’s asking too much.
In both these examples the people in question have displayed a total failure of consideration or compassion for a mother with very young children. I find it bemusing that people who likely have children and grandchildren themselves would behave with such selfish superiority. It makes me wonder if it’s specifically because I have small children that I’m a target?
Have you experienced anything like this? Do you agree or disagree about rudeness in older generations?