Image by Pablo Merchan Montes on Unsplash,
A woman writes about leaving one of the big box stores to go to her car. On the way she passes an elderly gentleman with a walker, moving slowly toward his car.
A group of young teenagers rushes past them, heading for the exit. They ignore the writer, whose age is uncertain.
The author of this article feels badly for the older man. She wonders if he resents seeing these teens rush past while he’s forced to move slowly. She thought about all the contributions a man of his age would have made. She imagined him struggling to play with his grandchildren. She wished him, “Have a nice day!” and he smiled warmly.
This is hidden ageism.
The writer projects every sad stereotype onto the older man.
I’m glad he smiled when the author said have a nice day.
The rest is pure fantasy.
Maybe he enjoyed watching the kids speed past.. I would have been thinking “I’m glad I don’t have to race around and deal with all those teen things…dating, high school, getting in trouble, figuring out the future…”
I still work in online marketing. Nothing beats the satisfaction I get from a happy client or a nice payment into my bank account.
Recently, on a productivity webinar, I expressed some frustrations with my ever-growing “to do” list. A well-meaning person said, “Why not retire? You worked hard and sacrificed to get here.”
That was stereotyping in spades.
When someone doesn’t have to work, they may not have worked hard. Maybe they got lucky in real estate or inherited a chunk of cash. Maybe they made a killing in stock options from their company or had a terrific financial advisor. Maybe they had an insurance settlement. Most of all, maybe they like working and don’t want to stop.
I particularly question all those articles where the author assumes an “older” person eating alone is lonely. I’ve seen lamentations about people eating alone in nice restaurants who can afford to eat out but sadly must do so alone.
We hear heartwarming stories of strangers joining an elderly person dining alone and there’s a happy ending: discovering a birthday, becoming lifelong friends, or even having a nice conversation.
We don’t hear stories of someone eating alone because they like their own company.
Maybe they brought a favorite book. When someone offers to join them, they say, “No thanks, I’m perfectly fine.”
If someone sees me eating alone, they’d better not invite themselves over. As I say in my book, sometimes it’s totally appropriate to use swear words.