There comes a time for everyone when, in the eyes of the people around us, we have passed an invisible barrier into old age. If we have not yet realized this transition ourselves, there are plenty of younger people willing to set us straight.
A nurse may address us in the infantile plural: “And how are we today?
If shopping with a young person, the sales clerk may speak to him or her, rather than you: “Does she want the red or the blue?”
Or as happened to me during one of my final job searches before retiring, a 20-something interviewer says, “Tell me about your life goals, dearie.
Time Goes By reader, Gladys Cohn, emailed about one of the most annoying and common of these demeaning occurrences:
“While taking my order, our waiter insisted on referring to me as 'young lady' and then asked me if I was old enough to have a glass of wine. (I am 70.) I have been faced with this patronizing attitude fairly often.”
All these examples are, as Gladys notes, patronizing. You can add disrespectful and humiliating too; they rob us of the simple dignity that is automatically accorded everyone who is not old.
Nothing ever changes unless someone speaks up, so I'm wondering if we can invent some snappy repostes today, comebacks we can all file away to use in these circumstances to let the speakers know we will not silently allow them to treat us as though we have regressed to infancy just because we got old.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Lyn Burnstine: The Shiny Maroon Radio