Pet Peeve #5: People Who Treat Their Elders Like Children

January 4th, 2007.

Society doesn’t respect older people anymore. In some cultures, older people were considered worldly and wise. People gathered at their feet to listen to their life stories and musings because common sense told you that someone around longer than you might have a thing or two to teach you. Now, people dismiss and belittle anyone more than a decade older than themselves. We worship youth and equate age with senility and stupidity. At least once a week, I get to hear some young twat refer to someone who is her elder as her ‘Sweetheart’ or ‘honey’ or ‘darling.’ As if he’s a child who doesn’t deserve the common courtesy of being called by his name or even just ‘sir.’ Instead, we just condescend to him by talking to him like a rich bimbo would talk to a puppy. This shit drives me crazy.

I am not even a senior citizen and I am already starting to get similar treatment from the younger crowd. Just yesterday, I went into a bookstore to purchase a book. I looked it up in their little system and searched all of the places it was supposed to be. Finally, I flagged down an employee. She couldn’t have been more than 19 years old and she wore her annoyance with me plainly on her face.

I started out by saying, “Excuse me. I don’t mean to bother you, but is there any way you can help me find a book?”

With a heavy sigh, she said, “Do you know what the book is called?”

“Um, yeah. It’s this book, in fact.” I handed over the slip of paper I printed up from the computer system that contained all the pertinent information about the book.

She snatched it from me, glanced at it quickly and sneered, “Well, it’s in the FICTION section….”

“Yeah, I know. I’m not an idiot.”

“We list the books ALPHABETICALLY.”

“I’m familiar with the alphabet, thank you.”


Then, she turned away from me like she was the Queen of Egypt and I was the slave she just dismissed.

“Look,” I insisted, “I realize that you must have a lot of people that come in here who can’t use a library or a bookstore without a trained professional holding their hand. But I am not one of them, so please hear me out. I already looked in the fiction section, alphabetically, by author, before I bothered you. In fact, I even thought that since the author had one of those fucked up French names that are seven separate words, it might have been alphabetized incorrectly. So I also looked under ‘D,’ ‘L,’ and ‘C.’ It’s not in any of those spots.”

With another heavy sigh, she said, “Well, then it’s out of stock.”

“I thought of that, too.” I replied, “But it says in your computer system that it’s in the store.”

Honestly, you would not believe how this 19 year old bitch sneered at me, people! Had I not been there, I wouldn’t have believed it myself. I felt like I was staring into a window of my future. Someday, in an old folk’s home somewhere, my bitchy nurses are going to be talking to me similarly.

Very slowly, in a voice that one would use to speak to a 2 year old, she said, “In the store doesn’t mean in the store.”

“In the store doesn’t mean in the store?”

No.” She rolled her eyes. “It just means that we’re able to sell it.”

“Let me get this straight. Your computer system is such that it uses one phrase, but means another and you have the audacity to treat me like I’m an idiot?”

“I can special order it, if you want.”

“No thank you!” I chirped, “I wouldn’t want to force to you to put forth anything but the barest minimum of effort!”

She pursed her lips distastefully and then sauntered off. I was filled with so much fury that I was nearly shaking. I cannot stand being talked to like I’m an insolent, stupid child.

On the upside, at least I have tangible evidence that I’m at least slightly growing and maturing as a person. Ten years ago, I would have clocked her. Maybe by the time I’m 60, I won’t even care anymore.

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