Yesterday, I went to the doctor’s office. As I was waiting my turn, an older lady came in with her health care aide. The health care worker parked the lady’s wheelchair, and I guess she didn’t park it well enough because the elderly woman emitted a loud litany of complaints and criticisms that had to embarrass her aide. I never knew anyone attached to an oxygen tank could bitch that long without taking a breath, but thanks to modern science, she could. Then, the old ray of sunshine turned to me and began to vent about everyone and everything as well. And before anyone says that she probably was not in her right mind, think again. This woman bitched about people with iPhones, President Obama, the cost of gasoline, whackos in California and Kim Kardashian. Well, I did agree with her on the Kardashian thing, but I didn’t admit it out loud. The point is she was well aware of the world which surrounds her.
About 20 minutes into my visit with this warm woman, the nurse came back to get her. I was happy to see her go, and I could only imagine that this was how her family feels. In that short span of time, my demeanor changed from cheerful and relaxed to anxious and snippy and there was not an errant hormone inside me or around me to blame. No, this woman was the culprit, and I realized she was the physical embodiment of what a bad mood looks like.
Okay, she is old; I get it. And she is not in the best of shape; I get that too. But I just wanted to yell as she was complaining about every little ache and pain,
“You get to be alive for those aches and pains, and I understand you are not in perfect health, but quite frankly, I am so tired of attending funerals for people who can’t make it to 50, so appreciate life or leave it.”
But I didn’t say anything to her for two reasons: first, it’s not politically correct to pick on grouchy old people as the AARP will get pissed off, and I am afraid they won’t let me in their club when I want to join and second, there was no point to me losing it. This woman probably bitched to the doctor, nurse, receptionist, pharmacist—anyone who had the pleasure of crossing her path. And from how her aide reacted or rather did not react to her tirade, my guess is her outburst was nothing out of the ordinary.
This woman bothered me all day. I couldn’t shake the feeling of being annoyed. I met my daughter later in the afternoon, and I told her about this woman and I gave her carte blanche to pull the plug if I ever became that mean. I know I told her this half-seriously, but she responded – way too quickly I might add – “Okay.”
Yes, just “okay”, no “Oh, Mom, you would never get like that” or “Mom, I would not take you seriously if you started to complain about everything” or “Mom, I want you around forever; let’s not think about it”. No, just an “okay”. I gave her a quzzical look and she hastily added,
“Okay, but it won’t be necessary.”
I wanted to ask, “Why won’t it be necessary? Do you already have plans?”
But I thought it best to drop the subject. I learned a very important lesson yesterday: Old people and children suck. I think I will turn into one of those crazy eccentric people and leave my worldly goods to my dogs. They still love me although if I didn’t give them steak, that plug might mysteriously come out of the wall on its own.