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Author Topic: Being old isn't an excuse!
Kitten in the rain
Jingle Bell Hock


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I had my least favorite kind of customer at work today, in spades.

I can handle the demanding customers who just want to take out their aggression on me. I figure out who they are within a couple of minutes, disengage from them, and just let their words wash over me. I can handle the people who bring in rowdy children. I can handle the really insecure newbies. I can handle the teenagers who started knitting two months ago, but already know everything there is to know and don't need me to tell them anything because they know it all, and I'd better not forget it!

But force me to spend an hour in the company of just one pathetic, belligerant, depressed old lady and I get worn down to a shivering, nervous wreak. Of course, given that I work in a knitting store, I get more than my fair share of these women. But yesterday... yesterday, I met their queen.

She came in with her daughter, who was dragging her there because she wanted her mother to take up her old hobby again as a way of helping her cope with some life-altering events that had happened to her recently. I know all about these events (a lot of her belongings were stolen, her husband had a terrible stroke and is in the hospital and she has to be with him constantly and feels guilty for leaving ever for any reason, she recently had eye surgery, she's very sick, etc) because she told me about them, in detail, repeatedly, sometimes while breaking down crying.

She also complained about everything. She complained about the patterns, because they didn't explain all of their abbreviations. She wanted English patterns (she's from England) because the English ones are better, they explain things. I pointed her at some beginner patterns that have explanations of the abbreviations and she jumped to the conclusion that they must be English. All of the needles were wrong, too large or too small or -- get this -- objectionable because they were colored blue. She wouldn't knit with blue needles. The patterns were all either too hard or too boring.

And all through this process of her daughter trying to get her to select things and her rejecting them, re-telling her tale of woe, and crying, I was also trying to deal with a rush of customers who had other questions. This was hard to do because she would walk up and while I was talking to someone else -- while I was in the middle of a sentance, of a word even -- she would cut me off and just start talking to me. Sometimes just about her tale of woe. The other customers were understanding, because most people who come into the store are kind and polite, but it was still extremely stressful trying to do my job and handle this woman with kid gloves.

And the way her daughter treated her... ugh. I can understand that dealing with this woman every day must be hell (like I said, I was about ready to have a breakdown after an hour or so) but I think that if ever get to the point of talking to my parents that way, I'm going to tell them that I'm sorry, I can't handle this, it's too much pressure and I don't like the person it's turning me into, and here's the number of a very good therapist, please go and see them. Better not to interact with them at all than to be so condescending, so angry and irritable. Worse, her daughter insisted on trying to pull me into her meanness by making snide comments to me about her mother while her mother was standing right there.

Both of these women were also clearly extremely self-absorbed, to the point where they'd engage me in conversation, and then cut me off immediately and just start talking about something else in a very clear 'I don't give a crap about what you have to say' sort of way.

The worst part, though, was that I couldn't just look down on them with scorn and disengage from them the way I generally do with belligerant people because if they're self-absorbed, they both have extremely good reason to be, and if the older woman was crying all the time, well maybe I'd cry a lot too if Boyfriend in the Rain was in the hospital, sick and possibly dying. In short, both of these women have seen their lives come crashing down around them, and I just can't blame them for acting that way, so I can't disengage from them by deciding that I don't give a crap about them.

But even so, excusing them completely for their behavior and saying "they can't help it" does a disservice to all of the people who have handled similar life events with grace and poise. How many of the spry older women who come in and are a pleasure to talk to are going through similar circumstances?

But no matter how much I tell myself that these people are victims because they choose to be victims rather than striving to be heroes, I just can't make myself stop caring. And so women come in like the customer yesterday and leech all of the life out of me. They're the only customers I can't handle.

Anyone have any suggestions about ways I could talk myself into disengaging from them they way I do with the other difficult customers?

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Signora Del Drago
Angels Wii Have Heard on High


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Kitten, I was crying by the time I finished reading your post - feeling sorry for the old lady, for her daughter and for you. Bless your heart, you are so kind to be nice to them. It is apparent that you are a compassionate person. Thank you for caring and for continuing to be polite and helpful to them. DOYC only knows, we could use more people like you in this world. I have no advice, except to say good for you for controlling your emotions while waiting on them and please continue to rant away here. Maybe that will relieve some of the tension. Oh, and remember that you can't solve the problems of the whole world, though I get the idea you wish you could. As bad as you feel now, think how bad you'd feel if you'd lost it and been ugly to them. So, you did benefit in the long run. *hug*

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"This air we're breathing. Oxygen, isn't it?"~I’mNotDedalus, impersonating Vincent D’Onofrio.|"Sometimes trying to communicate can be like walking through a minefield."~wanderwoman
"Give people a break. It's not easy doing a life."~Joshua Halberstam

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ThistleSoftware
Little Sales Drummer Boy


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Kitten, I truly think you are a saint. Your posts show so much compassion and empathy, yet you never lose sight of yourself and the bigger picture. I'm sorry someone else dragged your day down.

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Officially Heartless

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Lainie
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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Oh, Kitten, I'm sorry. I don't have any advice for you, except that to say that I think you're doing better than you realize.

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How homophobic do you have to be to have penguin gaydar? - Lewis Black

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Seaboe Muffinchucker
Let There Be PCs on Earth


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After my mother died, my father was in a very bad way. He sat every day going through their wedding album and crying. He complained that none of his friends came to see him. If you talked to him on the phone, he cried.

There was only so much of this I could take (I'm the child who finds it easiest to deal with him) and I had to be firm. I'm pretty sure I wasn't snide about it, but I suspect that some of you would feel about me that way Kitten feels about the daughter in her post.

You need to be firm. Not unsympathetic, not snide, but firm. In Kitten's case, the only thing she could truly have done would be to interrupt when the woman interrupted her and say firmly "I need to help this other customer"--no "I'm sorry", no "just a moment".

She's not going to interact with these women long enough to do anything more.

Kitten, I know it doesn't help much to be told "don't feel bad, there was nothing you could do" but for your long term mental health it's important to remember that.

Seaboe

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Education is not the filling of a hard drive, but the lighting of a bulb. -- Yeats via Esprise Me

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BeowulfGirl
Happy Holly Days


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Kitten, you're banking some seriously good karma!

On a kind of related note, a large number of my students work in the casinos in Atlantic City. They're waiters, dealers, hostesses--that kind of thing. They all have to deal with senior citizens on a daily basis, most of whom are just looking for someone to talk to them.

The BeowulfParents are in their seventies, and I occasionally worry about how they're treated when they go out without me (or a person who is obviously "taking care" of them). I just hope that they meet up with someone as nice as you, Kitten!

Hang in there!

--BeowulfGirl

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Please visit my blog and leave a comment! It's all pretty and pink and quite funny. Go here: http://beowulfgirl.blogspot.com/

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MissEltoe
We Wish You a Merry Giftmas


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Kitten, my nana could almost be this lady, and I agree with Signora, I felt bad for all of you by the end of the OP.

Nana's youngest son (mom's brother/my uncle) just died of a rare cancer just two years ago.
Long story short, he wanted Nana to move in with him and his family, but when he passed, the three of us ended up together, and I think my mom sounds like the woman's daughter in the OP.
Mom gets snappy with Nana, and Nana looks pitiful, but she sure can work your nerves sometimes.
I have no advice, because I'm trying to figure out how to deal with an old bitty myself, but I want to add that I think you're doing great!
I definitely believe you'll get back what you put out, so keep up the good work.

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Licorice of the Lord! This is classy stuff...Should I be wearing a tie? Or, at least, pants?
~I'mNotDedalus

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finger stutters
Deck the Malls


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I'm sorry about this woman and her daughter.

My mom is kind of like her, and she will tell people things they don't need to and don't want to know.

I can't believe the daughter was making comments to you about the mother. I may thing some mean things about my mom when she is making a scene like a small child, but I would never say them (especially to a stranger). That daughter seems completely out of line.

From the other side of this I want to say that I'm sorry to all of you and especially Kitten!

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YHBT. YHL. HAND.
My youtube channel

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PallasAthena
Xboxing Day


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Wow Kitten. What a tough situation. I would not have handled myself so well, nor, I suspect, would I have been able to put myself in their shoes like you seem to have been able to do. I really admire you for that.

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"How do you make chocolate? You take dark chocolate, you mix it with white milk, and it becomes a delicious drink. That is the chocolate I am talking about." --Ray Nagin

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Kitten in the rain
Jingle Bell Hock


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Thanks, all [Smile] Hearing your support has meant a lot. I was really tied up in knots about going into work today, just out of dread that I was going to be waiting on someone else like the woman in the OP.

You know, it's funny. If I'd read this post as someone who hadn't experienced it, I would have thought (as a couple of people have expressed) that anyone who could tolerate it without losing their cool has got to have superhuman temperance. But when you're in the situation, you have the choices of bearing it or else doing something that you're going to regret a whole hell of a lot, later. The drain from dealing with the women is gonna last a few days, maybe a week, but the regret from being yet another in a long line of uncaring people would stay with me for much, much longer.

Seaboe, I like the idea of being firm. I do think that part of what made me so much the target of the Tale of Woe was that I was a captive audience. I could have used the other customers as a chance to free myself from being a captive audience, and I think I'll remember that in the future.

Anyway, a few of the regulars are coming in tomorrow, and they all need help with technique, so they'll protect me. They need to preserve my sanity. [Wink]

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snapdragonfly
Happy Xmas (Warranty Is Over)


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mmm, I don't have anything to add that hasn't been said but I want to add my support to you. I understand your reaction - you feel sorry for them - who wouldn't? - but at the same time, you know people who've been through the same or worse and somehow handled it with more grace and why could't everyone be like THAT.

I have some issues with my inlaws, who are both elderly (in their 80's) and I have just come to the conclusion that there's no fool like an old fool. We are supposed to become all wise and everything after so many years of age and experience, and some of us do (I can think of some really far out, super groovy, totally amazing old women who I love to just hang around and let their wisdom wash over me).

But some of us just don't. From the looks of the daughter, lack of grace runs in the family.

But you can't fix it for them, so you treated them with kindness, mercy and patience, and that will come back to bless you.

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"Wolves, dragons and vampires, man. Draw the nut-bars like big ol' nut-bar magnets." ~evilrabbit

(snurched because one of my nutbar family members is all about wolves and another one is all about dragons...)(with apologies to surfcitydogdad)

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Sara at home
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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Let's see......you called the woman "self absorbed", "pathetic", "belligerant", "depressed", who has gone through recent "life-altering events" including the loss of her property, her husband's death, her own health problems, an openly disrespectful daughter assuming the role of caretaker, and severe enough anxiety that she can't make what would seem to be simply decisions.

So who was using "old" as an excuse? She seems to have enough problems in her life that would throw her even if she were "young".

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Assume that all my posts will be edited at least once. Dyslexic -- can't spell, can't type, can't proofread.

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Kitten in the rain
Jingle Bell Hock


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Sara, the post I wound up writing wasn't the post I'd intended to write in the beginning.

The thing is, I'm very conflicted about women like the one I dealt with a couple days ago. I really feel for them, but at the same time, they make me extremely angry. Because I know they don't HAVE to be that way, and it would be nice if they weren't.

She very much was using being old as her excuse for being compeltely ill-mannered, as the other women like her who I've helped have done. She never said it directly, but she used many veiled references to her infirmity, to being left behind by time (especially as pertains to knitting), etc. All of these references were pertaining to either why she couldn't do something, or came around a time when she took some particularly demanding or rude action.

So I started out wanting to write a ranty post about this woman who came in and her nasty daughter. I'd been in a good mood when they came in, but by the time they left, I wanted nothing more than to lock myself in the office and cry, and I was a complete mess for the rest of the day. But when I started writing the post, the exact same thing happened to me as happened when they were physically in my presence -- my annoyance that they'd come into my shop and NFBSKed up my day drained away, because really, I can understand, on some level, why she'd be that way. So I started writing a post filled with righteous annoyance and wound up just as I'd been.

But the fact is, I've never ever had a young woman come into the shop who quite embodied that mix of helplessness and self-absorbtion. There are several regulars who are in once a month or so who behave this way, and every single one of them is probably at least 70.

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Sara at home
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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Then maybe age is the excuse then. Life is cumulative. The average 70 year old has likely been through more than the aveage 30 year old. And the world has changed a lot in a 70 year old's lifetime, dramatically so. It hard to keep up. Adjusting to new things is hard for many people but the older ones have more new things to adjust to. By the time we are 70, many of us will have lost our parents, perhaps our spouses, friends, the things that have helped us get through changes in our lives and life in general. We have to face our own mortality. Life can be very scary when everything is different than we have known for decades.

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Assume that all my posts will be edited at least once. Dyslexic -- can't spell, can't type, can't proofread.

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Cestrian
I Saw Three Shipments


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Get yourself a cattle prod lass, that'll keep the annoying blighters away.

Problem is these days, shop workers are the only people some of these old folk get to talk to. All they want is someone to listen to them, remind them that they still exist.

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"Endeavour to persevere"

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Little Pink Pill
Little Sales Drummer Boy


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quote:
Originally posted by Sara at home:
By the time we are 70, many of us will have lost our parents, perhaps our spouses, friends, the things that have helped us get through changes in our lives and life in general. We have to face our own mortality. Life can be very scary when everything is different than we have known for decades.

And when the future has lost its promise. My grandma is going through this right now. She was a gracious, happy, wise, balanced, independent woman until just a few years ago, after my papa died. Now she is clingy, manipulative, belligerent, and very, very frightened. She is so afraid to be lonely she makes people want to avoid her. She is so afraid to fall ill that she worries herself sick.

I used to think who you were as a young person just became intensified in your old age, and to some extent I still believe that is true. But I know a lot of young, previously content people who have been emotionally crippled by illness or loss, so I wonder if cranky old bitty syndrome has more to do with what you have gone through than how old you are when it happened.

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The technical term is narcissism. You can't believe everything is your fault unless you also believe you're all powerful.--House

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NewZer0
Happy Holly Days


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I'm a secretary for a group of social workers who work with the elderly and the disabled. I got a lot of very sad calls; ones that really do break my heart. I also get a lot of angry calls.

While I don't want to distance myself per se, it is easier to get people off the phone if I am nice and polite to them. If I get short, they just get more upset.

So, Kitten, look at it this way, you are being kind to a lady who needs some kindness; and the nicer you are, the easier it will be to disengage.

and if you need to deal with other customers, say something like, "I'll get back to you in a minute. Why don't you look at ---?"

(Did that make sense?)

--NewZer0

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I study medieval literature because that's where the money is.

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Sara at home
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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Not to mention that at 70 many people are suffering from some sort of dementia which can cause decision making, remembering and focusing difficult. And many people with some forms of dementia are very aware that they aren't functioning as well as they use to. That can be very distressing and cause anger in some people.

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Assume that all my posts will be edited at least once. Dyslexic -- can't spell, can't type, can't proofread.

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Menolly
We Three Blings


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I like NewZero's idea (and yes, it made sense to me). Even though the other customers were tolerant this time, you really can't count on that every time. A quick "I'm already helping this person, I'll answer your questions next" might just work.

Don't get me wrong--she and her daughter were both distraught, out of sorts, and rightly so. But they were also rude. Someone butting in when a salesperson is helping me is not something I would be *constantly* tolerant of no matter what. If the customer butting in doesn't take the hint, at least the customer who's being slighted will know you're trying to do the right thing by everyone.

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Let's just pretend we're normal for a minute ~ New favorite T-shirt quote

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Radical Dory
God Rest Ye Merry Retail Clerks


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Between this and the wonderful way she handles children, Kitten deserves the Employee of the Month award. [Smile]

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"But about the reindeer...what kind of a nose shines? How did he get it? Maybe it's not a reindeer after all. It could be something else."

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Little Pink Pill
Little Sales Drummer Boy


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quote:
Originally posted by Menolly:
Don't get me wrong--she and her daughter were both distraught, out of sorts, and rightly so. But they were also rude. Someone butting in when a salesperson is helping me is not something I would be *constantly* tolerant of no matter what. If the customer butting in doesn't take the hint, at least the customer who's being slighted will know you're trying to do the right thing by everyone.

I agree, Menolly. I think, for your own peace of mind, you've got have both compassion and boundaries when dealing with difficult people. Kitten has a lot of compassion, which I admire, but I think some inner and outer boundaries would help her not be so drained by people like those in the OP. If every time you encounter that type they suck you dry, you're going to just start avoiding them--just like everybody else. The key is to give as much as you can, but only let them take so much.

Of course, that's easier said than done.

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The technical term is narcissism. You can't believe everything is your fault unless you also believe you're all powerful.--House

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Kitten in the rain
Jingle Bell Hock


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Sara, I'd believe you, except that for every frightened, clingy, heartbreaking old woman who comes in, I get ten of about the same age who just blast through, grab some yarn and go, and at least five who hang around and are an absolute joy to talk to. The same day that this woman came in, another woman came in who was clearly older and sicker. She had to struggle up the stairs. She was bent almost double by back problems (osteoperosis, I assume). She just wanted to know where the baby afgan patterns were, and once I showed her, she happily looked at them and chatted with other customers about knitting and crochet for an hour or so, gave advice to another woman who was also looking at patterns, then bought one and left.

If I were to say that the woman who came in unhappy, clingy, and rude couldn't help it because she was old, then what kind of credit am I doing to the even older woman who can barely make it up the stairs to the second floor where the shop is, but who nevertheless never once complains about health problems, is cheerful, and gives sage advice to a younger woman? She's probably struggled to keep her problems from becoming anyone else's problems, and I really appreciate it that she's done so.

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Sara at home
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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quote:
Originally posted by Kitten in the rain:
If I were to say that the woman who came in unhappy, clingy, and rude couldn't help it because she was old, then what kind of credit am I doing to the even older woman who can barely make it up the stairs to the second floor where the shop is, but who nevertheless never once complains about health problems, is cheerful, and gives sage advice to a younger woman? She's probably struggled to keep her problems from becoming anyone else's problems, and I really appreciate it that she's done so.

You give the cheerful ones credit for good genes, good lifestyle, good doctors, good medications, good luck. Aging knees are one thing, an aging brain is another. Some people have problems with one, some with the other and some with both. That's the way it works.

You said only people over 70 act this way but you don't want it to be because they are old. Then what do you think it is? Do you think some people just decide to be rude, self-absorbed and indecisive because they are old and think they can get away with it? They just decided to be like that one day for no good reason?

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Assume that all my posts will be edited at least once. Dyslexic -- can't spell, can't type, can't proofread.

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Ms. Kringle
Markdown, the Herald Angels Sing


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Sara, my grandmother is 87 years old.

She still mows her yard, hangs her wash out on the clothesline, and doesn't want to change a thing. She has been living alone for 20 years,ever since Granddad died.

She has, for the whole of my life, and the whole of my mother's life, been a right pain in the ass to deal with. Age didn't do that to her, it's her personality.

I can see where Kitten is coming from. I totally see it. Thankfully, my mother is not like my grandmother, because I think I'd slap her if she acted towards me the way Granny does towards her.

Some people, sure, it's an aging brain. With some people? They've always been rude, self-absorbed, and indecisive.

Either way, Kitten was still polite, and still helpful, but it took a lot out of her, and I can completely understand that. I'm always tired after dealing with Granny, because she's SO rude, and she's always BEEN rude, and it's just mentally tough.

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Beware corporate zombies! They will purchase your brain on E-Bay!

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Sara at home
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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Well, then Kitten is right and it's not related to age. But then why are the only ones she deals with who act like that over the age of 70? All the assholes were born over seventy years ago?? Or not?? Which is it?

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Assume that all my posts will be edited at least once. Dyslexic -- can't spell, can't type, can't proofread.

Posts: 8317 | From: Reading, PA | Registered: Mar 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Menolly
We Three Blings


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Sara, I just reread the OP. The way I read it, KitR stated that both the mom and the daughter were self-absorbed. And both were rude to her as well. So, unless the daughter was over 70, I guess not all rude, ill-mannered people are over the age of 70.

I'll concur with that--my mom has been a nearly mirror image of the mom in KitR's OP since she was about 50 (the only difference is she only cries about her cats, never about people). Now that she's 75, she has belligerence, being ill-mannered and rude, being able to reduce people to tears, etc. down to a fine art. She's an emotional vampire, truly. Whoever penned the phrase "all about me" probably overheard my mother reciting yet another diatribe about her personal woes to a poor unsuspecting grocery bagger. [Roll Eyes]

KitR, would you and your other sales associates be able to watch out for each other? Like, having a code phrase you can use if you are being overwhelmed, then another salesperson takes the next few minutes with a difficult shopper? I'd hate to see you up against a situation like this again without a Plan B. You behaved admirably, but a plan would be a good idea just in case...

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Let's just pretend we're normal for a minute ~ New favorite T-shirt quote

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Sara at home
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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quote:
Originally posted by Menolly:
Sara, I just reread the OP. The way I read it, KitR stated that both the mom and the daughter were self-absorbed. And both were rude to her as well. So, unless the daughter was over 70, I guess not all rude, ill-mannered people are over the age of 70.


From Kitten's third post:
quote:
But the fact is, I've never ever had a young woman come into the shop who quite embodied that mix of helplessness and self-absorbtion. There are several regulars who are in once a month or so who behave this way, and every single one of them is probably at least 70.


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Assume that all my posts will be edited at least once. Dyslexic -- can't spell, can't type, can't proofread.

Posts: 8317 | From: Reading, PA | Registered: Mar 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Menolly
We Three Blings


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How about I restate: All the customers who give KitR 'trouble on a regular basis' are over the age of 70. Doesn't mean all the ill-mannered people in the world are over the age of 70. The daughter was evidently a Queen-in-Training to take over once her mom stepped down. I just hope for KitR's sake that the daughter becomes overly fond of oh... skiing or gardening or something unyarnly.

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Let's just pretend we're normal for a minute ~ New favorite T-shirt quote

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Little Pink Pill
Little Sales Drummer Boy


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Can't it be both? Can't it be that some elderly people are cranky because they are confused, and some because, after 70 years of self-absorption and selfishness, they have figured out how to achieve maximum impact with minimum effort?

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The technical term is narcissism. You can't believe everything is your fault unless you also believe you're all powerful.--House

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Ms. Kringle
Markdown, the Herald Angels Sing


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quote:
Originally posted by Little Pink Pill:
Can't it be both? Can't it be that some elderly people are cranky because they are confused, and some because, after 70 years of self-absorption and selfishness, they have figured out how to achieve maximum impact with minimum effort?

I'm sure there's an equal portion of both.

However, I'm not willing to excuse my grandmother's bad behavior because she's 87. No, she's always been that way, and nothing's going to change that.

But, I can see how some people, thrust into a completely different life when major events happen (death of a spouse, major move, major illness), would react by coming off as self-centered and rude.

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Beware corporate zombies! They will purchase your brain on E-Bay!

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Christie
The Bills of St. Mary's


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quote:
Originally posted by Ms. K:
However, I'm not willing to excuse my grandmother's bad behavior because she's 87. No, she's always been that way, and nothing's going to change that.

If you handle being around your grandmother anything like the way we handle being around my 88 yr old FIL I think you are excusing her behavior, at least to her face anyway. And, frankly, what else can you do? My FIL is not going to change now, there is nothing we say or do that can make him nice. But he's 88 yrs old, he's frail, he's old, he's lost most of his contemporaries, he's knows he's marking time until death. I think he has good reason to be a crank.

We don't excuse his behavior in the sense that we condone it or would like our own kids to emulate it - but we do excuse it in the sense that we accept that this is the reality of the way that he is and nothing we can do will change that. Our best bet is learning to cope, not expecting him to suddenly turn into a sweet old gentleman. So not going to happen!

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If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs, it's just possible you haven't grasped the situation. - Jean Kerr

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eif
Jingle Bell Hock


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quote:
Originally posted by Sara at home:
Well, then Kitten is right and it's not related to age. But then why are the only ones she deals with who act like that over the age of 70? All the assholes were born over seventy years ago?? Or not?? Which is it?

Maybe the young PITAs don't knit.

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Where I come from we believe all sorts of things that aren't true. We call it History.

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Menolly
We Three Blings


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Good points, all. And Christie, you summed it up perfectly for my mom as well. When I visited on Father's Day, my mom mentioned that 2 of their neighbor friends had passed on. She said they were almost completely alone, and they used to have a large number of friends. Kinda tugged on my heart when she said that. Then, she took another breath and started verbally ripping a relative apart. [Roll Eyes]

And, [lol] eif!

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Let's just pretend we're normal for a minute ~ New favorite T-shirt quote

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Ms. Kringle
Markdown, the Herald Angels Sing


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quote:
Originally posted by Christie:
quote:
Originally posted by Ms. K:
However, I'm not willing to excuse my grandmother's bad behavior because she's 87. No, she's always been that way, and nothing's going to change that.

If you handle being around your grandmother anything like the way we handle being around my 88 yr old FIL I think you are excusing her behavior, at least to her face anyway. And, frankly, what else can you do? My FIL is not going to change now, there is nothing we say or do that can make him nice. But he's 88 yrs old, he's frail, he's old, he's lost most of his contemporaries, he's knows he's marking time until death. I think he has good reason to be a crank.

We don't excuse his behavior in the sense that we condone it or would like our own kids to emulate it - but we do excuse it in the sense that we accept that this is the reality of the way that he is and nothing we can do will change that. Our best bet is learning to cope, not expecting him to suddenly turn into a sweet old gentleman. So not going to happen!

Well, she doesn't trash my mom on the phone to me anymore, in fact, she doesn't trash ANYBODY to me on the phone anymore. That's because I told her once that if she said something nasty about my mom, I was hanging up on her, she said it, and I did it.

Other than that? I probably put up with a lot more than I would from other people. Mostly because I know darn good and well she's going to be gone someday, sooner rather than later, and I don't want to not be speaking to her, because she can be a great person.

But she has learned not to talk smack about my parents, my brother, my kid, me, or Mr. K, because I won't tolerate it.

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Beware corporate zombies! They will purchase your brain on E-Bay!

Posts: 2310 | From: California | Registered: Jul 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Kitten in the rain
Jingle Bell Hock


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Okay, to clarify on the assly customer issue --

I do get a lot of self-absorbed, nasty, indecisive customers of all ages and skill levels. At least once a day, I get that one customer who's so troublesome and demanding that I have to switch into my "But I'm just a stooopid retail drone!" act to get them to go away. (For some reason, letting the assholes think that they're easily the smarter one of the two of us tends to calm them down and get rid of them, and I don't really give a crap about what they think of me since I don't think much of them, so I'm perfectly happy doing whatever it takes.)

As I stated in the OP, I can deal with those people. Because they're so irritating and nasty, their words just roll right off of me. I know them for what they are, I know they just want to get their jollies bossing someone around, so I don't really let their words touch me.

The people who I can't handle, who are inevitably over 70 (I would guess), are the ones who combine self-absorbtion and patheticness with a kindness and sweetness that might just be an act, but is a good enough act that I can't just blow them off the way I can the people who are nasty to me. My feeling is that the reason I've only seen elderly ladies doing this is cultural -- there was a huge cultural shift in the role of women in the 50s, after all, which might account for the fact that these women exhibit behaviors that I haven't seen so much in younger women. Or maybe it's a learned behavior, maybe they've learned that the sweet, sad grandmother act affects a lot of people the way it affects me (like the kids in Millions who wandered around getting stuff from people by telling them that their mother was dead). I don't know.

And Sara, I do understand that in some cases, there could be dementia involved that prevents these people from being fully in control of their behavior. But their whole attitude tends to scream 'victim' -- these are people who have given up, resigned themselves, and aren't even vaguely struggling to make their situtation better, and my experience with people who resign themselves to being victims is that they're not doing themselves any favors. So I'd say that mental issues or not, their chosen behaviors are contributing.

That having been said, I do have sympathy for the situation. I do know a little of what it is to be out of control and unable to force yourself to behave in a reasonable manner. I can only imagine how it must feel to have your body breaking down on you, to not be able to do the things you'd always taken pride in being able to do.

It's that sympathy along with the at least surface kindness of the women like the one in the OP that makes it so hard for me to disengage, and that lets them drain me so completely.

Posts: 533 | From: Davis, CA | Registered: Apr 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
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