When I was younger, a few months or so ago, I often wondered if people getting close to the age they consider old said that to themselves. Lately I’ve encountered so many mean, irritable, grumpy, rude, insertcurseword-ish elderly people it was like a plague had hit.
It seemed everywhere I went they were to be found. At my favorite writing spot hogging tables. At the grocery store mumbling obscenities at everyone they passed when the other people didn’t move out of their way quickly enough. Driving through town causing road rage wherever they very slowly went. There was the guy at the convenience store who cut in a long line and glared at the young girl who dared to question him, or at least started to dare before his frightening expression shut her down.
Oh, I can’t forget to mention the lady in a department store parking lot whose car somehow managed to take up three spaces. When I noticed I shook my head and she jumped out of her car and screamed at me as I walked by.
During some of these, and other, encounters, I’ve said what was stated in the title to myself. Or wondered if I’d be a jerk to everyone around me with impunity once I hit a certain age.
Every time I encountered one of these people it would irritate me and I’d piss and moan about it to my husband or friends, sometimes even my kids, but I wouldn’t do anything.
Then something happened.
I wish I knew what my trigger was but I don’t . One day I realized my bullshit detector was on super sensitive while my tolerance of said bullshit was at an all time low. At times, like with the lady in the parking lot, I snapped back. All I said was “Look at your parking lady.” when she was yelling and questioning my right to shake my head. However, while I know I didn’t say it in a nasty tone, I’m quite sure I delivered it in a way that would irritate her the most. Not very nice on my part.
Or at the grocery store when an extremely older woman tried to herd me out of her way with her cart and I didn’t budge. In all fairness, in this case I couldn’t have moved due to other shoppers but I know damn well I wouldn’t have anyway.
So this brings me to my point. It’s a vicious cycle. These pissed off elderly folk were probably treated poorly by people they thought of as old and now that it’s their turn, they are doing the same to the ones of us who are younger.
AND I WAS IN THE PROCESS OF PERPETUATING THIS CRAP!
There I was, reacting the way we all eventually end up reacting when others are jerk faces to us. It’s like the ones who were pissing me off were gradually passing the torch to me. I’ll admit, at the rate these encounters were happening, my goal-age for being an old asshole was going to end up being much younger than the ones I watched behave badly. Not only that, but I was contributing to the anger these perpetrators already had too much of.
A strange, and all too often occurrence (at least the start of it) today made me really think about what I was doing. A lady deliberately cut me off with her cart several times at a drug store. I don’t know why she singled me out or what prompted her to keep it up but I was getting pretty irritated. Not the first time she did it. I hardly noticed, just a minor blip on my ‘oh look another a-hole’ radar. I can’t tell you what my expression so I don’t know if it contributed. A few rows in she did it a second time, with eye contact.
I remember thinking, man what’s up with this lady, but I kept searching for what I needed to buy. You know that feeling you get when someone is staring at you? I kept feeling it and every time I looked up I saw her over the short displays and she would quickly look away. It was so weird but I said “It’s not all about you Kristi” over and over. But it was all about me this time.
We were in the vitamins section and there are four or five rows of the stuff. Each time I left the row I was on, there she was, her cart almost colliding with mine, along with a nasty look, then a satisfied smile for her friend looking at end caps.
After several times I was beginning to wonder if she was playing some kind of game since she seemed to be enjoying herself. Then it hit me. Was I really taking the time to wonder if some pissy old lady was messing with me? Yep. As this had never happened to me before I was quite surprised. It was a little funny and I found myself smiling. I glanced at my nemesis and instead of quickly turning her headthis time she glared at me. Guess the smile rubbed her the wrong way. Oops!
I giggled. A lot. It was just so ridiculous. I couldn’t help myself, every time I looked at her, I laughed harder. She got madder, then I guess confused based on her expression. Somehow through my giggle fit I found my vitamins and started to leave. She moved to cut me off again.
I let her. Then I left.
Once in my car I felt guilty because I know me laughing made it worse. Then I got mad because I didn’t think I should have to feel guilty for her being an ass and I hadn’t done it on purpose.
Then I made a decision. From now on I’m going to do whatever it takes to avoid people like her. I don’t have to bite back, or in this case laugh (which is another form of fighting back at times). I can keep my head shakes to myself and just get out of the way when needed. This doesn’t just apply to the well aged, I’ll stay away from jerks of all ages.
I can’t control my face (when I amused mostly) so I’ll keep my head down when others act like toddlers. I’m not really a petty person and I don’t like how someone being nasty brings it out in me. I can’t fix them, but I can try to be a better me.
Most important, I’m not going to let the anger infect me. And when I’m old enough to act like an asshole and get away with it, I won’t. Even when I want to.
Sidenote: Somehow some aspects of the lady from the drugstore must becomea part of my novel. I’m in need of minor characters.