Do you know a confused old person? Not a seemingly old person because you’re young and they seem old (Example: You’re 20 and think 45 is over the hill). No, I mean a real old person, say around… well, you know if you fit into this category.
I am a senior citizen according to my mirror and my almost 13-year-old AARP membership. I can tell you why older people sometimes seem confused: They are.
Everything has changed! And keeps changing!
Have you noticed the teeny tiny print on everything from aspirin bottles to that stuff that scrolls across the bottom of the TV screen?
And have you noticed that bottles are nearly impossible to get into? My mother has glaucoma and puts drops in her eyes every night. You wouldn’t believe the trouble she has trying to pry that small bottle open. You’d think there would be some kind of easy open bottle for someone who is 93 years old. I mean, glaucoma usually occurs in older people. Hello! Old people have trouble with their sight, their strength, and their grip (on reality and jar lids).
And along those same lines, when I feel a migraine coming on, I don’t want to deal with a pill that is encased in plastic where you first have to break off a corner and then find the microscopic place that you can pull on to pull the plastic back, only to find that it is permanently adhered to the little bubble where the magic pill can be found. My head is killing me and now I have to deal with this? I take a pair of scissors and savagely cut the thing to pieces. Finally, my magic pill! But by this time, my migraine is past the point where the pill will do much good. I take it anyway. Bleh…
I have coined a new word: checkoutaphobia, the fear of being confused and looking stupid when you check out at Wal-Mart, Dollar General, etc.
I am eat up with checkoutaphobia. There’s a disaster lurking at every cash register. If I use cash to pay for my stuff, I end up doing the old lady thing of digging deeper and deeper into my billfold to find the correct change. To do this, I have to take out the 1, 5 and 20 dollar bills, charge cards, and anything else I’ve dropped in there for safekeeping (Oh, look! There’s the necklace I’ve been looking for). Once I have the correct change, I have to stuff all that back into my billfold which, of course, won’t fit for some ridiculous reason, and now I’m holding up the line and looking confused and feeling stupid.
If I use a credit card to pay for my stuff, I end up standing there, squinting at that little picture that shows the correct position of the credit card to use while swiping the card. Does the side with the letters face down or up? Do the letters go toward me or away from me? Does the side with the stripe on it go down? If that’s correct, does it even matter where the letters are? At this point, the cashier usually saves me by taking the card and quickly swiping it for me, for which I am both grateful and vaguely embarrassed. As I look behind me, I see that I am, once again, holding up the line and looking confused and feeling stupid.
And as I get slower about these things, the cashiers are getting faster because the high-tech cash registers get faster all the time.
Things have really changed at the grocery store. I can’t unload my buggy fast enough to keep up with the cashier, so she’s standing there waiting for me to get my stuff on the counter so she can scan everything and then she immediately has my total, and is now waiting for me to pay as I struggle with the buggy and my purse.
Back when I was a kid (when dinosaurs roamed the Earth), my sister and I would go with Mom to the grocery store on Friday nights and hurry home to watch The Flintstones. We loved that show and didn’t want to miss any of it.
I remember the cashier had to find the price sticker on each item and then manually enter it into the cash register. Even with the fastest checker, there would be plenty of time for digging the cash out of your purse or pocket or even writing a check, all the while catching up on the latest rumor going around about the soap opera everyone watched. The conversation would go on through the bagging of the groceries into big brown paper bags. And all the bags would be cheerfully taken to your car by a store employee. (We still have a grocery store locally that takes your stuff to your car. It’s great, especially for old folk like myself.)
There was no checkoutaphobia back then. There was no confusion about how to position your credit cards because there were no credit cards. Just cold cash and hand-written checks.
But we must go forward and thank God for what we’ve got instead of what we had. Sometimes, though, as checkoutaphobia surrounds me, I hear the faint echo of “Yaba daba do!” and I smile as I dig out the correct change and hold up yet another line…