Monday, February 22, 2010


The mall where my sometime office has many doctors offices in it. As mostly seniors go to doctors, this means there are quite a few seniors hanging around the mall. There is a pharmacy in the mall where I occasionally go to buy shaving cream and stuff like that. Because 4/5 customers in the pharmacy are seniors, paying for your stuff tends to be a drawn out process by the time you wait behind 3-4 seniors all of whom are buying lottery tickets as well (and counting out the change from their change purses).

I do try to be respectful of the elderly.

That was why when I found myself in a foot race with an elderly lady with a walker for an open checkout, instead of going into my finishing kick and beating her cleanly to the front of the line, I slowed down and let her go ahead. Age before beauty I thought.

Not again.

This lady came to the cash register and proceeded to send the clerk around the store to individually pick up the 4-5 items she wanted to buy. This was while I waited impatiently behind her.

Fred Eaglesmith who is one of the greatest singer/songwriters around was going thru one of his long monologues last summer and was talking about his recent trip to Vancouver Island. Vancouver Island according to Fred is populated entirely by hippies and mean seniors. Say Fred, "I call them meaniors".

One thing that amazes me as I get older is how seniors today who are only 15 or so years older than me act just like the seniors I grew up with 40 years ago. You would think they would have learned something and resolved "I am not going to behave like that when I am old" but they haven't. Same clothes, same attitude, same sense of entitlement.

When I think about it, the meanior of my childhood had actually been through something. Many of them had been affected by the First and later Second World Wars. All of them had lived through the depression. Maybe they had the right to be crabby. Maybe not. Our current group of meaniors has never been thru any war, has lived in great economic times with good jobs, bought low and sold high, had universal healthcare and indexed pensions. They haven't done anything to earn the respect to which they believe they are entitled to.

I grew up in Victoria, which had lots of nicknames, including God's Waiting Room. There were to say the least a lot of old people there. We didn't call them seniors then, we called them little old ladies and little old men. No question though they were mean when you were a little kid. I grew up with a real hatred for anyone with gray or white hair. This had not dissipated at all by the time I started medical school. I mean like who told me I was going to have to treat old people? This of course proved to be somewhat of a hindrance during my orthopedic and internal medicine rotations. It certainly didn't help me when I was in general practice (although I came to hate drunks worse).

In anaesthesia I have come to enjoy doing older patients if only because as everybody knows it is impossible to kill a 90 year old. In the pain clinic I have come to dread them. The main reason is my frustration at not being able to do much for them, having to fight with the multiple other specialists involved in their care and of course dealing with the families.

As I tell my wife, I will be eligible for the senior's discount in some places in 3 years and I intend to make full use of it. I already forget to turn off the blinker, (I tell everybody now that I'm over 50 I don't have to) and I am obsessed with my bowels. I find myself getting to be a bit of a crabby old fart already; read my postings on medical students and resident, not to mention how much better everything was in the olden days.

1 comment:

burnttoast said...

not funny. Because on Wednesday of last week, for the first *!#%* time, a clerk said, "You're not eligible for the Sr discount, are you?" I said no, but thanked him for being the first to ask. EVER. I fear, not the last. I think elders are grumpy because getting older is often painful, sad, and pretty much involuntary (unless suicidal). Life experiences don't figure into the why of it. On my calender today, a quote. "Aging seems to be the only available way to live a longer life." D.F.E. Auber. Sorry about the loss of your dog. I composed a lovely missive, and the computer ate the dog homework.