For some reason, I have a great sensitivity to seeing old men by themselves. I have no idea where it comes from, since the majority of my life is spent making sarcastic fun of people in general. It happens nearly every time I encounter an older man who isn’t doing something retiree-esque such as golfing or having coffee with his friends. If I am, say, shopping and I see an older man stocking shelves or worse yet being a greeter in a store, I have the tendency to get a bit teary. To me, they just deserve better. He probably misses his wife and her wonderful beef stew and maybe his kids grew up and live far, far away and don’t call or write and that’s why this poor guy is working his part time hours to pass the time until Wheel of Fortune comes on at 6. My sister calls it my *sickness*. She will burst into gales of laughter in telling the story of my emotional encounters with the older man that used to work in the local K-Mart. Every time I went into the store there he would be stocking the Martha Stewart towels or slowly trying to figure out the cash register in the midst of a bunch of over made-up GenX teens. Once, to my horror, my sister phoned me to say she saw him sitting all by himself, ringing a bell and dressed as Santa Claus in the front of the store. I avoided the place for the entire holiday season. I must have died a lonely old man in a previous life.
Last Friday I was doing my usual grocery shopping. I was moving along, minding my own business in the chip and dip aisle when suddenly I had one of my *senior moments*. Coming towards me in one of those motorized cart-things was an older gentleman. He had on a little pageboy cap and very thick glasses. He motored right for me for a brief moment and suddenly took a sharp left turn right into the potato chips. As he buried the entire front of his cart in the Ruffles I could hear the air-tight bags popping and the chips breaking. Instinctively I wanted to turn around and just go away. Heroically, I might add, I grabbed the *handlebars* of his cart and planted myself so he could bury himself no further into chip and dip hell. Mumbling something about how to stop, he slowly moved his finger from the *gas pedal* and brought the thing to a stop, nearly running over my foot in the process.
As much as I wanted to shake that old man and scream at him for making me all teary and emotional because here he is all alone on his little cart crashing into things with no one to help him because his wife died and his kids never call and how did he even get to the store did he actually drive himself????, I instead smiled all brightly and said, “Whoops, better take it easy there!”
I really do need some help. Really.