Hey…they know my name!
A couple of years ago, I was in a queue in a small supermarket. The age demographic lined up for the checkout was probably 60 years plus.
An elderly man, about five places in front of me had just paid for his shopping but was experiencing difficulty as he tried to maneuver his trolley out through the door.
The check-out chick, possibly half his age, waved at the queue and said, “hold on folks, I’ll be right back”. She moved to the elderly man, took his trolley and helped him to slide it along and set him on a course towards the car park.
As she said goodbye to him, she patted his back in a kind manner while smiling and talking to him. She returned to her checkout, looked at the queue, and said, “Thanks for waiting”.
When I had paid for my groceries, I thanked her for her kindness to the elderly man.
I also said, “do you realize that you may be the only person who speaks to that man today?”
That checkout experience stayed with me for days. I had never considered that there are possibly some, maybe many, in our community who live alone and one of the few activities where they connect and have some interaction with others might be in a store.
I made a seachange 15 years ago. I came from a large city where no one really notices you and it didn’t matter, because there were plenty of interactions and things associated with my lifestyle to give me a sense of connection.
For most of my time since moving, I have worked, but in recent times, I retired. Now that I am retired, that means fulltime writer, and there are many days when I don’t see or interact with anyone.
I have also joined the age demographic of the people in that supermarket queue. I notice how older people are treated, sometimes with kindness, sometimes ignored, sometimes with impatience or disdain.
Recently I was at a department store counter where an elderly woman was having some difficulty organising payment from her purse. The shop assistant was quite unpleasant to her.
When it was my turn to be served, I commented that the woman had had some difficulty and the shop assistant very quickly made some disparaging remarks about “old people”.
I lent in close and said very quietly, “you know, one day, you will be old, just like that woman, and you will be mortified if someone treats you as you treated her.
You will also be thankful if someone like you is respectful and kind”.
I’m sure, there are times when we all observe the manner in which elderly people are treated. The big question is, are we prepared to stand up for them?
As a culture, do we respect and acknowledge that those, other than the young and trendy, should be valued.
Most of us grew up in a culture where older persons were respected. The world has changed, from a sense of community and belonging, to a focus of individuality and self-centeredness.
As community participants, our options are to accept the behaviours that disregard us, or others, or to respectfully remind the offenders of their behaviours.
If we let them get away with poor behaviour, they will think that the behaviour is acceptable.
Of course it is always important to be aware of the positives.
In recent years as I have aged, I notice that people out there who I have never met, call me Sweetie, Love, Darl, and other names of endearment, and I laugh and think, hey, they know my name!
Do the random act of kindness for others, for you never know, it maybe the only gift that another person receives that day.