Sweet old lady is an oxymoron. It’s one of those myths, probably perpetrated by childhood memories of grandma, a rosy film smoothing over the lumps and bumps.
Age makes everyone cranky. Men get grouchy. Women get snarky. Old people are impatient and significantly less reserved about saying what’s on their minds. We don’t have much to lose, so why not?
Our body is not the only part of us that ages. Our personalities change. We have less patience. We’ve stood on a lot of lines, argued with too many customer disservice people. We don’t see as well as we did and our hearing isn’t as good. We’re tired of the fight to keep going. We hoped by this point in our lives, life would be easier. Unfortunately, it is rarely easier and sweet isn’t even close to how we feel.
It’s possible the only people who find old people sweet are our grandchildren. Everyone else gets the sharp edge of our tongues and the temper.
American culture has little use for old folks unless they are very rich. It’s obvious. From the founding of this country, we have prized youth and energy. We give lip service to admiring experience and wisdom, but we don’t hire the old and wise. Companies fire workers the moment they can’t keep up with workers half their age, even if those kids can’t actually do the job.
It turns out, older, irascible guys and gals resent being told how to do their jobs by kids who have zero experience but lots of opinions. Mature people are not easy to manage and don’t willingly gulp company Kool-Aid.
To make the cycle perfect, the Social Security retirement age has been steadily going up. Youngsters are going to have to find a way to stay on the job until they are 67, 68, even 70. Probably it’ll get up to 80 eventually including a not-so-subtle hint that the world — or at least our economy — would be improved if we died before needing benefits. Young people don’t think much about getting old. They think it’s a disease they can avoid.
Statistics prove people are living longer, so the great minds in Washington figure that means we should also work longer. Except for the minor detail that by the time you hit 50, no one will hire you. So between the time when work really ends and the beginning of whatever pathetic version of social security that generation gets, there will likely be at least a decade or two of trying to survive with no income and no pension. It’s bad now, but by the time today’s youth hits senior citizen status, it will be much, much worse. It’s a frightening specter.
The result? You’ll see millions of unemployed old people who should be able to take it easy, but have to find a way to keep working. No longer able to do what they did for 30 or 40 years, they will be unemployable. It’s already happening. Just look around.