"Old And In The Way"

I turned 51 yesterday, and I am in a surprisingly good mood about it. I had a great day even though I had to work and the celebration will be postponed until my next day off. But now that I am not just a cranky guy anymore, but officially a Cranky Old Guy (COG), I thought I’d list a few of the things I ran into yesterday that threatened, but ultimately failed, to break my mood…

Turn that TV Down!: My hearing (HEH?!?) has gotten to the point where I can hear the TV more clearly from the kitchen when my daughter is watching some show about smart ass teenagers on the Disney Channel, than I can when I’m sitting directly in front of it, watching a movie.

AT&T: How this inept, confusing, rip-off of a company ever got to be the mega-corporation it is today is beyond me. Customer service so bad it is textbook stuff for what not to do. And their latest: when you dial 411 on an AT&T phone, and you ask them for the number for a business that you know has been operating in your area for years so they most definitely DO have a phone, they will tell you they “have no listing” for that business when you know goddamn well it is right there in the phone book, but you just can’t find your phone book. Oh, but they can “search other categories” for an extra fee. It’s not enough that they charge you $1.50 for any “directory service” calls over and above the three free ones you are allowed each month, now they have to hold you for ransom on each individual call.

The Bank: Every time I go into the Bank, it seems, I am in line behind an older person who is clearly retired and has all day to “do their banking”; the teller is always so pleasant, and so happy to see you again, Carl, how are you? It’s not the waiting behind these people that annoys me; it’s the deep dread that I am getting closer to that point in my life where going to the bank will become the highlight of my day, and then I will have to call Dr. Kevorkian.

I avoid going inside the bank like the plague. The only reason I have been forced inside lately, away from the quietly beeping efficiency of the ATM, is that my bank is one of those banks that have been bought out by another bank. In Georgia, where I opened my account, my old bank is already the new bank. Here in California, however, the new bank is really still the old bank. Even though they have signs for the new bank outside and inside, the tellers all sport spiffy new polo shirts with the new bank’s logo, and the deposit slips, etc, all have the new banks name on them, they are still the old bank. What this means is that I cannot make a deposit in the ATM because my ATM card was issued by a branch of the old bank, which is already the new bank; and my card won’t work for deposits here at the new bank which is still the old bank. So the new bank, which is really still the old bank here in California, has to write a check for my cash deposit to the old bank which is already the new bank everywhere but here; then it gets deposited in the old bank which is not yet the new bank here in California, and my cash deposit is not available for two days.

So I am stuck going inside. I pulled up in front of the bank yesterday and saw only a single car parked in front, and thought “Here’s my chance…” so I walk inside and there is a line of nine old people waiting. Did you people carpool or what? Is the Gambler’s Express tour bus to Reno waiting around the corner?

People’s “feelings being hurt” because I spoke to them in a direct manner, giving them succinct, exact instructions on how to do something at work: I have not shouted, or been insulting, or been at all rude; but if you are not adult enough to take instruction without it being couched in some touchy-feely HR-Speak, you need to just grow up. It’s work, people; I am busy, you are busy. I just want to quote Harvey Keitel in Pulp Fiction to these overly sensitive types: “If I’m curt with you, it’s because time is a factor. I think fast, I talk fast, and I need you two guys to act fast if you want to get out of this. So pretty please, with sugar on top” drop the fucking check on Table 12…

Wal-Mart: I hate everything about Wal-Mart, from the parking lot to the Garden Department; but one of the side effects of becoming a COG is becoming a cheap COG, so I will occasionally muster up the high level of tolerance for stupidity necessary for a Wal-Mart trip, and plunge in. Occasionally I have used their own stupidity against them, finding and buying merchandise that is clearly priced incorrectly. Wow, a 4.5 horsepower lawnmower for $10.95? I’ll take it.

It escapes me, though, why Wal-Mart feels the need to have these overly cheerful Greeters at the front door. After I have stood in the return line for the third time that day to exchange yet another piece of defective, made in China crap, the last thing I want or need is Aunt Betty smiling and asking me to “have a nice day” as I grumble my way out.

So, I’m getting older, and I occasionally put on my Cranky-Old-Guy-Sweater-With-The-Patches-On-The-Elbows and wear it like a badge of honor. I haven’t yet reached the point where my soup will never be hot enough, I don’t tell my waiter I am allergic to something just because I don’t like it, I haven’t started calling my wife “Mother”, and I don’t have a shop to “putter around in”. I will not give you an update on my health every time we have a conversation, or talk about who I know that died yesterday. I’m not yet to the point where my age gives me full license to say the things to people that I used to only think, but I am starting to actually read the statements I occasionally get from Social Security in the mail.

Thanks to all my friends for the sincere “Happy Birthdays”, to my beautiful wife for the lovely Cole-Hahn briefcase, and to my daughter for the “Pirate Cake”. And thanks to all who continue to tolerate me in spite of me.

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2 Responses to "Old And In The Way"

  1. Carole Loomis says:

    If you EVER call me “mother” there will be no need for Dr. Kevorkian!

  2. Mary says:

    Pat, you are hilarious! If you ever retire from restaurant work you should become a writer.

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