Get Your Old Person in Check

Most people I know are kind of scared of the elderly, or at least they don’t like them very much. They find them stodgy, crotchety, and boring. I rather think the reverse: I think they are wise, and funny (it pays to have a sense of humor when everybody around you are dropping like flies), and have a very open perspective on most issues. Heck, I learned to play poker at my grandmother’s knee, and I guarantee that at 80 years old, she could drink a lumberjack under the table. Not that I know many lumberjacks, but you get the point. All of this discussion of how cool old people are to me is to show you that what I am about to say is coming from a place of love. I LOVE old people.

What I do not love? Old people driving automobiles. And the epicenter for old people driving automobiles in Atlanta seems to be North Druid Hills and Lawrenceville Highway. Right there at Shamrock Plaza, the strip mall with the Publix. I went to pick my son up from preschool on Wednesday. On the way there, I had to swerve out of the left lane on Scott Boulevard (which becomes Lawrenceville Highway) to narrowly miss an elderly couple coming at me, albeit only doing 15 miles an hour, in my lane. That’s right, driving in my lane, in oncoming traffic.

After this incident, I guess my graydar was on, but the elderly drivers seemed to come out of the woodwork. I pick up my son at noon, so I had just enough time before that to stop by the grocery store. As I turned right into the Publix parking lot, here comes Granny, straight through a stop sign, rolling toward me in a big-ass, pea-green 70’s Chevrolet sedan. I slammed on the breaks, and granny continued on by me, seemingly oblivious to our near-miss collision. Or maybe I couldn’t see the panic in her eyes for those huge dark, almost black wrap-around sunglasses she was wearing. The kind that look like 3-D glasses, or the glasses they give you at the eye Doctor’s after you have your eyes dilated.

I proceeded to park, get my daughter out of the car, and walk towards the store. Here comes Grandpa, straight through the pedestrian area right outside the sliding doors of the grocery, not even slowing down for pedestrians. At this point, I am getting a little freaked out by the whole experience, and a whole lot of angry. As I am waiting for him to go by, the old lady who had just pulled up into the handicapped parking spot next to me gets out and asks me to get the cart sitting in the lined pavement area near her. I say “Yes, M’am” and push the cart over towards her. She proceeds to use it as a walker to get into the store. I mean, she drove the car to Publix, but yet needs the shopping cart to steady herself to make it in on foot! This does not engender confidence in her driving abilities.

We head into the store, and sure enough, it was like Shaun of the Dead in there, except instead of zombies, it was old ladies popping up every few steps. Every time I turn down an aisle, there is another old person, wanting to take “just a sec, honey” to touch my one year old daughter, and see her teeth, and “is she sleeping through the night?” and “I had six, sweetie, and the trick is a little gin on their gums,” they say with a wink and a laugh.

I manage to get out of the store with barely a moment to spare to get to my son’s school. I start unloading daughter and the groceries into the van, when the final straw approaches. Here comes a woman driving so slowly down the lane that she looks to be sitting still, that is until she makes a wide, halting turn into the space next to me. As I watch her make the turn, I look to her face, knowing before I see it that it will be wrinkled and weathered, and I notice that in addition to being elderly, she also seems to be having some kind of fit or have a tic. Her head is jerking regularly every few seconds as if she is being pulled by an invisible fishing line attached to her earbobs (because that is what she would undoubtedly call those earrings from 1956.)

I had no more run-ins with the elderly after that, but I feel that I must issue a warning to Atlanta: Please walk, bike, and drive defensively in this area, and if you have a family member or friend over 65, please get your old person in check.

1 Comment so far

  1. Mist 1 (unregistered) on October 15th, 2006 @ 9:37 pm

    I love old people too. I am always looking for my next ex-husband.

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