Memo To The Old Bag On 83rd St. That Called Me A Jerk
Let me start by saying, and I mean this from the heart, that I have nothing against old people. I love old people. I love that they are the redwoods of society, that you could cut them open and from their growth rings learn the secrets of histories long past; how they play bingo and gamble because at this stage every day is a lottery of broken hips and broken dreams; how they think the internet is magic and use the word “negro” without malice. And I love how they shrink.
But here’s the thing, old people: you need to understand that due to such things as oxidation and osteoporosis, you are now slower than you used to me, yet the world itself has stayed the same speed. So when I’m walking down the sidewalk carrying 80 lbs of groceries and you are wobbling in front of me with profound apathy, I’m going to go around you. And because I’m polite I’m not going to woosh by you swinging my plastic grocery bags like pendulums of fury – I’m going to slowly move up beside you so as not to startle you and then advance past you. It’s a simple, polite gesture suggesting, “You’re the past, I am the future.” Embrace it.
But when you decide without warning to make a sharp left right into my gallon of milk, guess what? Well for one that’s going to hurt you a lot more than it will my milk. And for another, how about a little control over the movement of your body? You move at a turtles pace right up until you decide you need to turn left, then it’s as though they’re handing out free tennis balls for the legs of your walker and you can’t get there quick enough? There’s no rush – your doorway isn’t going anywhere. Unless you’re senile and that’s not your home in which case you might think, in your boundless senility, that your door ran away. And last and most importantly, IT’S NOT MY FAULT YOU ALMOST RAN INTO ME. I’M NOT THE JERK. YOU’RE THE JERK.
Listen: I appreciate that it can’t be easy walking around on the cusp of death. But you’ve got to choose your battles. It’s not like you’re bounding with youthful energy. You need your strength for the important struggles, like for the continued love of your family, or bladder control. My advice is to just make the best of the situation. Like the time I was ten and I was putting on a bike show for my mom, and ten seconds into the routine, during a difficult move where I wiggled my handlebars back and forth, I inadvertently wiggled too far to the right causing me to flip head first over the bike while taking a direct hit from the handlebar into the sternum. Sure, I laid in the middle of the road and I cried, but when I finally stopped crying I just made pretend that it was all part of the routine, my death-defying front flip dismount. And you know what? I felt better about myself. Just like you would if instead of calling people jerks you took the time to realize that a lot of what happens to you is your fault, and maybe it’s your inner jerk that you’re really mad at.
Just trying to help.
(Note: The woman in the picture isn’t the woman who called me a jerk. While she is a good physical likeness, I make no representations as to her character. She may very well be a perfectly nice old woman. But I doubt it.)