Saturday, 29 November 2014

Invisibility.

It is often said that 'old' people become invisible in the street; that we go about our daily tasks and nobody notices us, unless we dress outrageously, or sing loudly as we walk along.

We were talking about this at our Friday coffee group when one of our friends spoke about being in a shop in our little market town.   The shop is a popular one , selling 'home made' cakes and pies - perfect fodder for the working men of the town, who pop in for a pie for elevenses or a cake to eat with their coffee.

She was in there waiting to be served when a young workman came blustering in, pushed in front of her and ordered his pie or whatever.   She wondered whether to accost him and say that she was first, but decided against it in case she got a mouth-full of abuse.   Straight afterwards, another young man, obviously a colleague, came in, joined the first young man and placed his order. All this time our friend stood waiting to be served.   To add insult to injury their loud voices were peppered with foul language.   She felt like telling them to curb it, but decided against it.   My question is this - when the first young man pushed in front of her, should she have said 'Excuse me but I think it is my turn.'  And when the second chap arrived and the bad language started, should she have told them to curb it (and risk a mouth-full aimed at her)?

Talking it over with the farmer last night, his opinion was that it should have been up to the shop assistant  to a) serve my friend first and b) tell them to curb their language.   This begs the questions - did she realise that my friend was first (invisibility theory at play here, although my friend does wear a red anorak), and also would the complaint about the language (to which she may be very used) just mean that they wouldn't come into the shop again and the shop would lose custom?

This kind of dilemma must be played out a dozen times every day in some shop or other.   As elderly folk we really should not put up with such behaviour, but what can we do about it?   I am sure my friend will be interested in what you have to say.

*On reading this through, another thought occurs to me.   These two young men, most likely living in our little town anyway, have no doubt got mums and grans at home, and would not dream of using that kind of language in front of them - and most likely go our of their way to be helpful at home.   So what happens to them to make them so different once they are in their working environment?

23 comments:

A Heron's View said...

Personally I would have pointed him to the back of the queue and if I had been swore it, well I can give it back in strong terms without lowering myself to their level.
For swearing is mainly done by those whose vocabulary is limited!

Philip said...

I agree with the Farmer, the staff member should have managed the situation. If that meant losing their custom so be it. I doubt it is an issue of invisibility of the elderly but rather plain bad manners and uncouthness.

John "By Stargoose And Hanglands" said...

Ignorance and rudeness are not just confined to the young and uneducated though. I hear that even Members of Parliament sometimes resort to this kind of thing when addressing policemen.

Elizabeth said...

I'm afraid the left-over school teacher in me kicks in!
There is a man who is obviously quite crazy who begs near here. Poor chap is possibly off his medication.
Anyway he was yelling in the most vile language the other day as the dog and I walked by, so I said
"Young man, I really do NOT want to hear that!"
So, instead of shooting me, he just said, most politely
"I'm sorry, ma'm".
But you never know.
I pretend to be even older than I am, and say hey I'm a grandma....etc
it usually works... I think young men just use bad language to seem 'tough' to their chums...
the world was ever thus....!

ahydrogen said...

I agree with the farmer. I live in a college town, and I often feel invisible to younger people. There seems to be a focus, perhaps hormonally induced, on potential mates that might be part of their inability to notice someone with white hair. Nonetheless, I do stand my ground in shops. The bad language causes me less annoyance than the invisibility. I say, stand your ground.

Linda Metcalf said...

You can't fix stupid and you can't fix rudeness. However, the shop keeper should have taken things in hand.

Trudie said...

I believe that it was the responsibility of the shop assistant to deal with this and if it meant that they lost the young lads custom then so be it - no reasonable person wants to be in a shop and hear that kind of language so they could have lost more peoples custom by letting the lads get away with it. xx

Gwil W said...

Whilst I agree with the farmer, I can appreciate the fact that young men in a hurry to get back to work need to grab a quick snack. Some of us oldies, I think of my dad who would need 10 minutes to select 4 apples, tend to be ditherers. No excuse for fould language. Shopkeeper should have said: We don't welcome bad language in this establishment.
Maybe she can now put a sign up to that effect.

Joanne Noragon said...

It was the responsibility of the shopkeeper. However, if they, too, are young, ignorant and rude there is no hope for civility to prevail.

Rachel said...

Although this is no excuse and they should have said something, I suspect they were on their elevenses break and in a hurry. I note Gwil has just said the same thing. The shopkeeper should have said "watch your language boys there's ladies present". If I had been one of the ladies I would have said "in a hurry are we boys?" and seen what they said.

JoAnn ( Scene Through My Eyes) said...

It is sad when this happens - bad teaching at home, for sure. I walk with two trekking poles (because of polio when I was 5) and my friend uses a cane. We were about to enter a restaurant and were struggling a bit with the heavy door when a group of 5 young, healthy people came forward to open the door - and then to push right in past us, like we were delaying them from their food, and no one even held the door after they entered. My friend spoke up and said - Thanks for helping those in need - and got nasty looks from several of the offenders.

It is sad that when a young person (or even a middle aged person) shows courtesy that we notice it as unusual. There are many kind and generous young people - I guess the bad ones are just so much more prominent. That is especially true when someone lets go of a door and it slams into your assistive device - or hits you and gives you a jolt that could cause a fall. I've learned to put my trekking pole in place so it takes the hit when I see it coming.

When I am out with our grandsons I quietly remind them of courtesies - not just to elderly but to everyone - hold the door for those behind you or move forward and open the door, just as I did with their parents - who are also teaching our grandsons good manners and courtesy.

Kristi in the Western Reserve said...

Well, I would be astonished if they would go out of their way to be helpful at home...Their language is an insult to the woman working at the counter, even if the one they shoved aside was invisible to them.

Twiggy said...

I agree with the farmer the shop assistant should have dealt with the situation. My Sister and I have brought our sons up to be well mannered and often wonder about the rest of the world. Her boys are now in their 20s and are wonderful young men. My little Twiglet is a fab 9 year old and his excellent manners have made him a favourite with the ladies of all ages ;) Manners maketh the man (and woman) in my book
Twiggy

jinxxxygirl said...

I completely agree with most everyone else that the shopkeeper should have handled the situation . The outcome could have been very different........ As parents we can only hope our children behave in public as they have been taught at home... but i cannot help but wonder how many parents today take the time to teach good manners and respect for older generations...

I do not know if this is a problem where you live but i think it is here in the US that families do not live near each other. Children may have very little contact with say their Aunts and Uncles and Grandparents which i personally think is so important. I think that limits them learning how to behave around the older generation.. Less opportunities to teach...
I instantly loose respect for anyone who swears. To me it shows a lack of vocabulary..... Very thought provoking post WEave. Hugs! deb

Heather said...

It is just possible that the mums and grandmothers of those two young men are very used to their foul language.
The staff member should be trained to keep an eye on those waiting to ensure they are served in the right order.
I think when the second man barged in front I would have pointed out (on a good day!) that I had been waiting to be served for some time and risked the verbal abuse.

Virginia said...

What makes them different ... shared testosterone! And no, it isn't OK for the elderly to be ignored, and the shop assistant needs to be reminded of her responsibility. I notice elderly people in the supermarket struggling to open those blasted fine plastic bags in the fresh produce section and sometimes offer to help - dry old hands are the problem. Often a couple of minute's conversation and a helping hand are appreciated. In another five years I'll need someone to help me!

ChrisJ said...

It took me ten years to learn to slow down after I retired. The need for an instant response to their needs, I think, means they consider we are still making up our minds -- not to mention they've never been taught good manners or respect for the aged. Never mind, they'll get their comeuppance one day. Think of all those sore thumbs, cricked necks and strained eyesights coming their way because of twittering.

angryparsnip said...

I think you should stand your ground. Once I saw two children playing, banging about, with some stuffed animals in the bookstore, and I said Hello are you buying the sweet animals ? your Mum is super nice to get you those or did you save up your allowance ? They looked at me like I was crazy.
From across the story the mum called for them.... she had left them there so she could shop.
I would have said Young Man, if you were in a hurry for lunch, you should have asked to go first. I would have understood and let you in. But for the language I really don't want or need to hear that. One time someone knocked into me so I staggered a bit and said oooooh my goodness.
Quickly the looks made him stop and he apologized I said I fine but please just be careful.
I think too many people and the young are so caught up in their own little worlds they don't see anyone but themselves.
So I stand up for my rights.

Cro Magnon said...

In my local supermarket this happens often. There are those who always join the side of a queue, hoping to muscle in. It drives me nuts, and in my most polite French I tell them what's what.

The Weaver of Grass said...

How good that we all agree on this issue, although I suspect it is something to do with our age. Thanks for joining in.

Helsie said...

I too think the farmer is on the right track. I would have said something to the shop assistant after they had left when she finally did "see" me !

Share my Garden said...

Oh I'm interested in this, Weaver! Were they local lads? I ask this because my friend, a Dales farmer not far from you had her car serviced in the village and the young man who came to tell her it was fixed peppered his speech with swear words. She gave him a dressing down. He had come from Poland with no English and the local lads had taught him to swear!
I agree with the farmer that the shop assistant should have made a point of serving you first. Failing that I would have said, 'Excuse me, I am waiting to be served.'

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