Friday, June 25, 2004

Grumpy Old Men (and Women)

I ran into a grumpy old man in overalls today that cussed me out. I had been driving to a hardware store to pick up some lumber and got behind this guy in a faded blue van with a "I Pledge Allegiance" bumper sticker on his bumper. He was apparently confused because he was driving about 5 mph and coming to intermittent stops in the middle of the street. I was close to giving him a toot when he decided to pull in at the same store I was headed to. As soon as he got out of his van he started calling me a "stupid idiot" and worse = apparently unhappy that I had been following him too closely. I listened for a few seconds before telling him he needed some manners and went on into the store, purchased what I wanted and as I left he again spewed forth an invective that was choked with a deep anger. This guy was probably in his 70s, so I couldn't give him what he deserved - but the degree of pure, hostile aggression in this old fellow was something I've seen, or noticed, a lot lately.

Just last week I was working out on the treadmill at the gym when a very old man using a walker hobbled up to the front of the exercise room and in front of about a dozen people watching two wall-mounted TVs, changed both TVs to Fox News, looked at us like he was daring us to do something about it, and then hobbled out of the room. We all just looked at each other as if to say, "he's old, what can you do?"

Why do old folks get cranky and angry? Is is because they've tired of holding their tongues? Do they think they deserve something from others and have the right to behave badly just because they passed 60, or 70,or whatever? James Hillman has some advice to us on how to grow old gracefully without upsetting everyone else.

By the way, if any of you are wondering if the old man in the van was related to you, his tag # was Oklahoma #INM-044.

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