Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Wheelchair Chronicles

The important thing to remember when visiting an old people's day centre is that they are all batshit crazy.
For a start, the office politics are ridiculously complicated. To the untrained eye, you'd think that they all hate each other fiercely.
Well why wouldn't you? After all, they spend half of the time arguing and the other half calling this person or that person a 'bigoted old cow' behind their back to anyone that will listen.
It seems that pensioners are only the gentle mannered, cupcake wielding cheek pinchers when alone, or in small groups.
Put them in a herd of 10 or more, and you have a disaster on your hands. Gone is the chitchat about the latest Radio 4 programme... be prepared for the accusatory remarks and snide comments flying about all over the place!
All of this on top of the never-ending questions about what you're up to at school this week (even if it is the middle of the summer holidays and you graduated years ago)
However brutal, these public showdowns are in fact the social bonding rituals of the O.A.P.
My advice is to not interfere if possible, and to steer conversation back to one of the following subjects- the 'good ol' days', the war or what's for lunch- when the atmosphere gets a little frosty.
Oh, and identifying an emergency escape excuse is vital.
So as I found myself being dragged along to my grandparent's day club (with perilously low phone battery remaining) I tried to mentally push out all preconceptions that old people are sweet and lovely creatures. Instead I focused on the fact that they are more like characters straight out of RED (think Bruce Willis)
The beginning of the day went okay, mainly as you'd expect. I got asked so many times what I was doing in arithmetic, and if I was an ice skater (for some reason) but aside from wanting to make a F.A.Q's list to hand around, I retained my sanity.
Lunch was alright too. Typically old-person-y (namely, everything was very soft and lukewarm) but was satisfying enough.
It was after lunch that I seriously questioned whether I had accidentally wandered into a mental institution.
I was just casually marking about 50 quiz papers (I landed this job because I was the only one young enough to read the 'tiny' size 12 font) when they started singing.
Seriously, singing. With songsheets and everything
And oh my word they were terrible. The old dear who was leading the wailing oldies even had dementia, so we got to hear what I believe was Auld Lang Syne three times. Hooray!
So when faced with a situation such as this, I did what anybody would do- I deployed my emergency escape excuse and ran for the hills.
Well, I say hills, I mean that I ran to the local post office under the pretence of needing to post a letter, but ended up spending a lengthy amount of time individually inspecting each of the shops wares.
I don't really have a deep underlying moral to this story, but I suppose the overall message is this:
Beware the old people
They are not what they seem

Good luck,

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