Friday, December 23, 2011

Why Are Old People Often Mystified By Simple Things?

This is a mostly rhetorical rant. I get so little blog traffic, I could say anything I want anyway.

I'll start with a disclaimer: Yes, I respect many members of "the elderly". I know some who have led rich, full lives and have incredible wisdom I can only pray I can extract from them while they're left.

Then there are those old people you run into in public. They've squandered their lives and minds, to the point where you wonder how a person can reach 60 or 70 and be utterly mystified by Pillsbury Biscuits. More on that in a minute.

We used to have a Ponderosa in Stratford, New Jersey. It was there in 2001 when we first bought our house. I remember it being a good place for Friday dinner. Another day we seemed to end up there a lot was on Sunday. One particular Sunday, two elderly women were at the buffet. They seemed not to understand a single item available at the restaurant. If you've ever been to a Ponderosa, you go in first and pick an entree. Usually steak or seafood or chicken. You also order a drink and pay up front. Then you get a tray and a cup, and you can eat from the salad buffet until your entree arrives. I remember it being a great place to get dinner for $7 or $9.

So these two women were in line ahead of us for Sunday lunch. They were utterly confused by the concept of "pick out a steak or chicken dinner". Then, the soda fountain totally blew their minds. It took us 5 minutes of waiting for them to figure out how to get Sprite into a cup before they got out of their way. (Though I held my temper and tongue throughout this ordeal, their mannerisms and accents placed them as lifelong residents of New Jersey. It's not like they came from Nowhereistan and had never eaten at a steakhouse).

Once they finally got food ordered and drinks poured (a trivial task for most of us), they proceeded to the buffet. This is the part where I was ready to yell. At the fresh baked portion of the buffet, they for whatever reason felt the need to squeeze EVERY SINGLE ROLL. Needless to say, I did not eat a roll that day. Then they also acted puzzled by just about every buffet item, as if it's the first time they'd ever seen mashed potatoes or pasta salad.

Seriously, they were elderly women in New Jersey, and acted like a Sunday buffet at a steakhouse was a new experience. I couldn't understand it. I think you have to demonstrate the ability to eat at a buffet to get a driver's license here. (You apparently don't have to be able to actually drive...)

Just today at Wal-mart, I came across another example of old people (very much American and local looking) who seemed totally confused by what should have been a simple concept. I was dispatched to pick up some Pillsbury Cinnamon Muffins. Two old people were blocking the whole section for at least a minute after I got there. I just wanted 2 sleeves of the things. This time it was a husband and wife, probably in their 60's. They kept picking up different selections of the biscuits and muffins. The concept of baking them at 350 degrees seemed to confuse them. I finally got my two sleeves and left.

As I was leaving, I got caught in an aisle between an employee slowly folding a ladder up, and a woman passing her with a shopping cart even slower. I thought if they moved any slower, the clock on my iPhone would start running backwards.

My Future
This leaves me terrified of how I could end up. Please, tell me I'm not destined to end up so slow and clueless like many of the elderly I come across in my escapades. Even when I'm injured or sick, I don't move as slow as most of the people who shop at Wal-mart or eat at the lower cost restaurants in my area. And yes, I notice this in Virginia as well, so it's not limited to New Jersey.
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