Had an interesting dinner with a few old timers tonight. The age ranged from about 88 down to 8 years old with the majority on the table in the top heavy age group. It was a funny and a little scary insight into how truly many in their golden years are stuck in their ways, but also interesting to see the contradictions in their lives.
Firstly, I’d like to set the scenario. A group of ‘seniors’ go out to their regular Monday night dinner – same place, same time, same day… every week. Sometimes there are a few ring ins, like myself, other times it’s the stock standard crew. A couple of weeks ago, the management to their favourite establishment changed. The staff changed, the menu changed. It was almost catastrophic! They actually changed venues for a week. There are a few very quiet souls amongst the crew, there are a couple of jovial ones and a few complainers. Most these people declare that in their winter years of their lives, they want to enjoy their friends and family for who they are, the fun times they have, the laughter and their happy stories… but when put in a situation like this, their true colours come out… their self-declared positive vibe turns into the world attacking them because they didn’t get what they want when they wanted, and a self-controlled tantrum takes place.
I must admit, the older they get, the funnier they are. The octogenarians seem to laugh about anything and don’t take things too seriously. They turn their hearing aids up when they want to know something, and love the peaceful silence with their hearing aids down when they don’t want to know. They forget the hardships of the previous day, a previous year or a previous decade and laugh at the ordinary being extraordinary. But they know what they like, get a touch annoyed if they don’t get it the way they like it, but take it anyway begrudgingly and decide that it’s not that bad after all. Their sixty and seventy year old cousins seem to want to take a little more control, because they haven’t come to terms with the idea that they are entering that time of their lives where senility or dementia sets in. They take things a little too seriously, wanting to maintain their sense of control, order and rigid familiarity to appease the older ones (well that’s what they think!). Then there are the ring ins like me and the younger generation – we go there to have a meal, have a casual chat with people we’ve heard about but don’t know much about, and happy that we’re fed and eager to go home.
Last week, they enjoyed the new menu, the staff were friendly and serving the food within a reasonable time frame and they were in high spirits. This week, the food was too slow, it came out in the wrong order, we were too close to the window so those next to it were catching a chill and then there’s the penny pitching at the till. The complaints were endless around the table, mainly by a chosen few, but even after the food was served and the bill was being paid, they simply couldn’t let go, making the night a very uncomfortable night for those attending and surrounding us.
Look I know that those in their retirement years don’t have an idea when they will depart this fair land and go to heaven, so they hold onto a dollar as long as they can to make sure that it’s not frittered away. But their doddering ways are as changeable as flipping a coin, even though they will take a stance and say ‘the older we get, the more we don’t want to change’.
I sat back and smiled through the whole ordeal and eventually said, “What’s the point of letting it get to you?” The grudge will last a whole week until they go back again to the same familiarity, the same new staff, the same new menu and possibly a different table away from the window, and who knows, they might just like it, next time!