Monday, May 27, 2019

"Dispatch From 'Increasingly Old'"

They look the same, but they aren’t.

As I have recently determined.

Having studied the difference, I now describe for your educational enjoyment two variants of “slow.”  One involves literal slowness.  The other, mistakenly categorized as “slow”, is distinguishingly not.

Here’s the first kind of “slow”, which caught me – as it is about me – startlingly by surprise.

Returning from Groundwork Coffee Co., I walk westward on Rose Avenue, on my way to Fourth Street, where I will turn right, heading back to my house.

As is my nature, I habitually walk deep in thought, dreamily unclear about my current location. 

I emerge from my reverie.

I have reached Third Street.

“Overshooting the runway”, as it were, by one street.

I have options.  I can turn back to Fourth Street.  But being chronically averse to “retracing my steps”, avoiding the steep northbound hill, I opt to hike over to Main Street, where I will turn right, in the direction of home, although two blocks to the west.

I walk the additional westward two blocks.  I look up at the street sign.

It says Third Street.


I am understandably confused.  (As, I imagine, are you.)

I walked two blocks west from Third Street and am now standing at Third Street?

“How did that happen?”

It happened like this.

While deep in thought when walking, I rely on an impeccable “Inner Sense” calibrating the distance I have traveled without actively noticing.  Today, that reliable “Inner Sense” informed me that I had reached Third Street. 

Had I been consciously awake, I would have known I had actually only reached Fifth Street.   

Sadly, my impeccable “Inner Sense” had substantially screwed up.  Not on purpose.  It’s primary problem was being an outdated “Inner Sense”, calibrating my progress by a rate of speed I no longer possessed.

If the “Now me” could behold the former, speedier me, I would have been able to see that younger me, walking two blocks ahead of where I currently stood.

There it is.

A classic example of geriatrical “slow.” 

Now the other one. 

We have all experienced this, from a bystander’s perspective.

You are “Next in line” at the supermarket “check-out.”

The customer before you is not young.

Let’s say it’s a woman.  No gender inference intended.  There’s just more to work with.

The woman’s groceries have been scanned.  Informed of the bill, she sets her purse down on the counter.

Reaching into her purse, she produces a checkbook.  (Note:  We are ignoring the “rummaging” cliché, though you may feel free to factor that in.)  She sets the checkbook on the counter, next to her purse.

She then goes back into her purse and pulls out a pen, laying the pen on the checkbook, sitting next to her purse.

Next, she extracts her reading glasses out of her purse, removes the reading glasses from their case, which she sets on the counter beside the pen and checkbook, sitting next to her purse.

Donning her reading glasses, she lifts the pen off the counter, and with the checkbook on the counter, she writes a check for the groceries.

Asked for I.D., she closes the checkbook sitting on the counter, lays the pen back on the checkbook, and goes back into her purse.

Out comes the wallet.

Sliding her I.D. out of her wallet, the customer hands the I.D. to the “cashier.”

After checking her I.D., the “cashier” returns the I.D. to the customer.

At which point,

The entire process is meticulously reversed.

She slides the I.D. back into her wallet, returning the wallet back into her purse.

She retrieves the glasses case from its spot on the counter, inserting the reading glasses into the glasses case, and then putting the glasses case back into her purse.

The pen and checkbook are next. 

First the pen –

Then the checkbook –

Back into the purse.

She lifts the purse off of the counter.

The cashier hands her the receipt for the groceries.

She puts the purse back on the counter.

She inserts the receipt for the groceries, now neatly folded, into her purse.

She lifts the purse again off of the counter…

And the transaction is over.

Was the customer slow?


She was, in fact, thorough, deliberate, careful, and efficient. 

(It could have been worse.  She could have had “coupons.”) 

And there you have it. 

Two examples of elderly “slow”, one that is slow, and one that appears slow, but arguably isn’t.

Is it a distinction that matters?

Not to “Next in line” at the supermarket.

Fuming in place, and dreaming of homicide.

And if you try to show them the difference between “slow” are “carefully efficient”,

Double homicide.


YEKIMI said...

You missed one item about the "old lady in grocery store line"....the part where she starts questioning the cashier about the price of EACH and EVERY item as the cashier is ringing it up. And it wasn't just a few items, it was an entire full basket. [Happened to me in a store. I swear that it would have been ruled justifiable homicide in I had taken her out right then and there.]

Pidge said...

Don’t forget the item whose price the cashier can’t scan or verify, or is in dispute. This necessitates summoning and subsequently directing a scout to scour the shelves for the correct sum to punch in.
No matter how short the line, I am always in the longest.
And I AM a little old lady!

JED said...

As for the first "slow", my answer to that is that as we get older, there are more things on our mind. We have gathered huge amounts more things to think about (and usually worry about) than younger folks. So, to me, it just makes sense that older people can seem forgetful when we are busy thinking (worrying) about all the stuff we've accumulated in our brain. I haven't yet found a way to clean out the attic. And young people - just wait. Unless you don't learn anything new or try anything different in your life, you will be in the same boat when you're out age.

As for the second "slow", I would just say that whenever I need to use a check at the register, I start filling out the check while they are scanning my items. And I get my ID ready ahead of time. It's not a big surprise that those things will be needed. BUT I am not checking each item as it is scanned, either. SO, maybe your "slow" person is smarter than I am and doesn't get overcharged for anything.

Stephen Marks said...

Two great stories from Earl. The two are related for a reason Earl is not telling us, but I will.

Earl was walking home deep in thought, missed his turn, coffee getting cold, "Gunsmoke" about to come on because of, ready for this, SPELLING! Earl, being from Canada, knows that "check" is supposed to be spelled "cheque." But this is essentially an American blog so he wasn't sure whether to use the Canadian spelling or, for most of the readers here, the other spelling. If you read Earl's other blog, the Canadian one, the story has the old bag pulling out her "chequebook" at "The Dominion", where it's mainly because of the meat, he is walking home from "Tim Horton's", he misses his turn onto "Bloor St." and arrives 15 minutes late for "Anne Of Green Gables." Nothing "slow" at all going on here, except for the service at the Groundwork Coffee Company on Rose St.