Disclaimer: The definition of old people is always much older than either you or me.
I don’t know what I was thinking. I needed a few items so I went grocery shopping on a Wednesday afternoon. I definitely wasn’t thinking.
In our area, that’s not a good time to shop. It is senior day and they are out in large groups. (Yes, I know I’m a senior but I’m not like them yet!)
I didn’t notice at first. There was a bus parked at the curb but I didn’t pay any attention. I walked through the doors and it hit me like a tsunami. Old people!
In the afternoon buses brings seniors from local nursing homes to shop. They come with walkers, canes, oversized purses that they can’t quite handle and gnarly looking men. (Ok, maybe all men over 90 look gnarly to me.)
It’s not all the equipment that gets my attention, it’s the unique odor that a very large group of older people have collectively.
The smell isn’t bad, it’s like attics and old wool sweaters – musty and dusty but not really dirty.
It’s like old memories in garrets and trunks full of clothing from another era.
It’s like fragile old books that have been stored too long.
And photographs…old faded photographs of people who no one quite remembers.
There are other things that are unique to this group. The women have white bed head with a flat spot in the back. I understand this. I check to make sure I don’t have it when I go to the gym. I don’t know why young women don’t get this.
They never use the self-check lanes. It’s too complicated. Because they are slow, the cashier lanes get all back up. Fortunately I was able to zip out quickly through self-check.
This particular store gives a 5% discount to seniors on Wednesdays but it makes it hard to get. You can’t get it at the registers. You need to take your receipt up to the customer service desk.
You can imagine what that line looks like. Old gnarly guys making passes at the cashier while their wives (girlfriends? nursing home partner?) paw through gigantic purses trying to find the receipt they received from the cashier two minutes ago.
All this reminded me of my mother (who did NOT have old people smell!).
She enjoyed grocery shopping. She would fondle the produce. You couldn’t hurry her. She liked to look at new things. A new brand of canned goods was good for 20 minutes. She would touch it and feel it and if her eyes were good that day, she would read the labels.
We would stop at the butcher (there were real butcher shops then) and he would joke with her. (He had some fresh baloney for her! He joked with all the women to get them to buy more!) He would make her feel special.
She was long gone when self-check lanes came along but I’m confident that she would have figured them out with her oversized purse no matter how long it took.
I’m also sure she would commandeer some gnarly looking guy to carry her groceries for her. What a woman!