Old folks get a bum wrap.
Their bodies shut down, their minds start to betray them, and the youthful masses by and large give them nary a thought. I fell recently into thinking how AWFUL it would be to be old. This may or may not have stemmed from finding my first grey hair a week after my 27th birthday.
Walking through the grocery store, I repeatedly found myself cart-blocked by the same pair of toddling old folks. They were clearly longly married, and leaned on each other as much as their cart as they shuffled along, shopping and blocking younger shoppers in their hurried way.At first I was frustrated that they were delaying me. They even somehow tootled right into the lane I wanted to zip through to escape with my groceries, and took their sweet, sweet time fishing for their checkbook to pay. I exited through another lane.
When I watched them on their way out to their car, which was interestingly enough parked right next to mine, I stopped. I watched how the man gently ascertained that his wife was physically okay as he opened their trunk. I watched as they loaded in their 2 bags of groceries, thinking all the while, "Wow, good for them that they didn't let the bagboy help them to their car. I admire their independence."
However, since my cart was similarly unloaded next to their car, I got the timely but unaccustomed urge to ask,
"Pardon me, I mean no offense, but since I'm going to return my cart anyway, may I take yours as well?"
I never, ever do shit like that. EVER.
The expression on the elderly lady's face was heartbreaking.
"Thank you," she said, with a touching quaver to her tone, "thank you, yes, you have no idea how much that would help us out."Abashed, mildly uncomfortable at such gratitude, and frankly embarrassment I'd ever felt an ounce of annoyance at this adorable couple, I replied,
"Er, no worries, it's my pleasure. You two have a wonderful afternoon."
But while it was a little thing, and I only did it because it was easy and on my way and I was inspired by the love and care they showed each other after what was clearly a long time in their relationship, the moment has stuck with me for almost a week now.
I've long railed against alleged "Random acts of kindness, (RAOK)" posts, because for all intents and purposes, sharing RAOKs serves only to buoy the self esteem of those sharing their little stories, which negates any aspect of altruism intrinsic in the deeds themselves. However. HOWEVER, it made me feel good. And it brightened that little couple's day, if only for a minute. And now maybe I'm wondering, ina way unlike my usual my grinchy stoicism, if maybe just a little spread of happiness is what it's all about. Maybe that's the person we SHOULD be.