Let it be known, before I even start this, that I’m not an ageist. I don’t hate old people, young people, middle aged people or any other age group possible. But I’ve found, in general, the elderly in London are some of the most genuinely nasty people you can come across. I’m not saying it’s every old person–I know some fantastic, wonderful older people who are as sweet and as nice as can be! In fact, I know more nice and kind older people than I do mean and nasty ones.
But I have absolutely HAD IT with the self-righteous, “martyred” old people of London. Let me give you a few examples as to why.
1. A month or two ago at a tube station, I was going down the left side of a staircase (which is the correct side in this bass-ackwards country) as a huge crowd was coming up. I was pretty much squished against the handrail working my way down, and as there were others behind me, I couldn’t turn around and go back up and wait. So I forged on. An elderly man (I won’t call him gentleman) was walking up the staircase next to me and apparently got angry that I was going down. He took his cane and smacked me quite hard in the shins and called me a “f***ing idiot.”
2. Just a few nights ago, I was on a crowded bus headed home, and somehow managed to score a seat. An older woman got on a few stops later, and as I was getting off in 2 stops to change to another bus, I offered her my seat. She looked at me in absolute disgust and said, “no”. Not even a “thanks anyway.” But I thought maybe she was being polite, so I stood up and told her, “I’m off in two stops anyhow, go ahead and have my seat”. She scowled at me even more nastily and said, “I’m not an invalid–I don’t want or need your charity.” I rolled my eyes and got off the bus at my stop. I turned back around, and sure enough, she was sitting in the seat I had left open. Go figure.
3. And today has just topped it all off. I went to the bank quickly to put in my address change on my account. I got in and there was a male customer at the reception desk where they take care of those things. Behind me were two women, one really elderly and the other not quite as much, filling out paperwork. The younger of the two looked up at me and said, “Excuse me but the older lady’s in front of you.” I smiled and said, “Alright, no worries.” When it was my turn, I waited for the oldest woman to come up and take care of her business. After that, I was under the impression that it was my turn. I walked up to the desk and said to the man, “Hiya, I’ve just moved house” and before I got anything else out, the younger older lady was literally in my face, and elbowing me. “Excuse me,” she shouted. I was more embarrassed than anything and said, “Oh God, I’m so sorry!” Still elbowing me and still in my face, she copped a serious attitude of superiority and said, “Are you really? Really? I don’t think you are!” At this point, I got angry. Who was this old bird to tell me I wasn’t sorry for something? So I got right back at her with the attitude and laughed at her and said “Actually, I was.” She responded with an “I don’t think so”, to which I replied, laughing again, “Well, no, I was. But it’s people like you that make me not-so-sorry, actually.” The poor guy behind the counter was trying not to piss himself when the woman turned toward him and said something about younger people not having respect for the elderly.
Respect for the elderly? I have tons. I really and truly do. But I’ll tell you what… I have absolutely NO respect for ANYONE, young or old, white or otherwise, English speaking or not, who treats me disrespectfully. If you’re expecting respect from anyone else, no matter who you are and what category you fall under in life, you’d better be prepared to give it in return. I genuinely was sorry today, until she became nasty.
Just because you’re old, prim and posh and British doesn’t mean the world owes you anything more than you owe it. Age (or any other box you tick) is not an excuse for just plain old nastiness. And I have to say, I’m absolutely speechless and flabbergasted by the way the elderly here have treated me and others younger than themselves. You would think that because they were brought up in a more “moral generation” (as you hear them tell it) they would be a bit respectful of others as well. Elderly Americans do have the same issue, but they’re different about the way the go about being nasty.
And the next time I’m hit with a cane on purpose and cursed at? Well……..