The Sassy Sandpiper: Be Kind to the Young
By M.R. WILSON, TB Reporter
A reflection on intergenerational respect.
Be kind to the young, for they will control the world you grow old in.
I realized this a long time ago; more recently, that this world has arrived. I’m living in it now.
I’ve started to feel old in public places, especially when using a new-fangled debit card with the sinisterly gleaming security chip. There is a whole new menu of choices and prompts, venue-specific. Or so it seems. I bought Chinese take-out for today’s lunch, and had to be shown the way to a device the size and shape of a TV remote control. The counter hits a person my size just below neck level (Okay. I jest.), and it was challenging to read the screen, enter my PIN, retrieve my card at exactly the right moment, and so forth. A smiling youth, happy for my business, kindly overlooked my clumsiness.
I may get distracted and forget where I am in the command queue. I don’t always read a receipt properly. The other day it seemed an on-sale item had rung up at its regular price in the self check-out lane. I marched to the customer service desk and was advised by a beaming, very young woman (Was she even out of middle school?) that the discount was tallied later on down the receipt. She and her co-worker were just too cheerful, too well trained to handle nearly daft elders. So obvious. And of course, there the discount was, preceded by a microscopic minus sign. But they handled it so well, I walked away uplifted. What nice young people (controlling the world I grow old in)!
Today I bought dark pink roses for a dear friend’s mother. It’s his birthday and I wanted to show my gratitude and appreciation to her for bringing such an extraordinary person into the world. I told a fresh-faced young man in the grocery store’s produce section what I was looking for, and gave him an overly long explanation as to the why of it. Yet to sprout a beard, the clerk was wise for his years, showing courtesy and forbearance, despite using way too many “Yes, ma’am’s” for my taste. He was probably thinking, “What a crazy old biddy,” but he’d clearly had The Training. Here I was trying to be kind to him, offering even a tidbit of rose symbolism, while he extended an even greater kindness to me. Training or not.
So perhaps what has been suggested by a few of my acquaintances—that folks seem to be kinder toward one another these days—is truly coming to pass. I hope so. We’ll all be better for it, especially We Elders, who will look to the kindness of youngsters when we are most vulnerable.
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