Bland generalisations can always cover a multitude of sins, prejudices and misjudgements.
However, one ironic aspect of making occasional contributions to the Rust (if I can be forgiven a touch of gallows humour here) is that if – because of a memory that is becoming less sharp than it once was any of our columnists should reheat and serve up a subject, a thought, or even perhaps an entire column that they have posted before – is that there’s a half-decent chance that neither author nor our global readership will notice.
As a senior citizen I sometimes liken my perspective to that of a member of a metaphorical astronaut crew journeying into outer space and thereby gradually becoming further and further detached from the modern world.
Not least because that is how those generations coming behind tend to view me.
For me, there are two sides to this.
Firstly, I accept that because I refuse to take part in modern means of communication such as social media I am progressively ‘out of the loop’ – but don’t care (it’s my choice).
But secondly, because as an oldie I still adhere to old-fashioned principles of simple logic and behaviour, I increasingly find myself irritated by modern (lesser) standards, especially when they make no sense and nobody younger than me will accept the fact but instead put my ‘outmoded’ attitudes down to my age.
Let me give three recent examples.
Recently, at their request, I had cause to ring an organisation to provide a reference for a prospective job applicant. I was immediately confronted by an automated answering system that gave four numbered options via which I was intended to identify my call’s purpose before being put through – none of which did.
Consequently – when I finally managed to speak to a human being (instead of an automated loop) out of the goodness of my heart I gave them some ‘customer’ feedback, pointing out this deficiency in their answering system including the fact, of which they were apparently unaware, that to the public it would make them appear either uninterested in receiving calls other than for one of their stated four options, or just plain stupid.
My point was that, as things stood, they were giving a bad impression [or should that be ‘an impression less good than it so easily could have been‘] of their organisation to the world.
The same organisation – and it’s perhaps unworthy of me to kick a horse when it’s down – subsequently compounded its poor reputation with your author when, having received my reference (as they had requested) by email, its officer then replied asking me to supply the start and finish dates of said job applicant’s employment time with me.
This when, in the second paragraph of my email I had stated that the reason I had rung them – and then sent them the email – at all was because I had never employed her!
(In other words, they obviously hadn’t read my email before making their further request).
Two weeks ago the company secretary sent out a round-robin email to all shareholders giving the prospective date of a future meeting and asking us to (1) confirm that we could make said date, and (2) indicate any preference as to what time it should take place.
I therefore replied by return that I was available and willing to attend on that day and that – having nothing else in my diary – I was content to go along with any consensus as to its timing.
Last night, having been away for 48 hours, I returned home to find that in the meantime I’d received another round-robin email sent to all thirty shareholders from the company secretary again confirming the day of said meeting and asking us to indicate what time in the morning we could make.
I regarded this (again) a signal of straightforward stupidity.
Clearly the company secretary had not bothered to read my earlier email.
How did I know this? Because if he had, he would have been aware not only (1) that it didn’t matter a hoot to me at what time it was held because – as I had indicated in my email – I was free all day; but that (2) he didn’t need to include me – or indeed any shareholder besides me who had already indicated at what times he or she could make such a meeting – on his circulation list for his second email.
He need only have written only to those who hadn’t yet replied (giving the times they could make) to his first email.
As I composed my email response to him last night – stating “If you had read my earlier email reply to yours, you would have known I can make any time” [whilst simultaneously complaining aloud in my front room at the extra ‘work’ I was being put to because of the sheer incompetence of it all] I was ‘taken to task’ by a member of a younger generation who felt that the company secretary writing again to all the shareholders again was perfectly logical and reasonable.
Any attempt on my part to point out that she was wrong and that my logic was 100% correct was to no avail. Further, I was then informed that my powers of both cognitive understanding and memory generally were in serious decline and that those close to me were becoming worried about it.
It’s the dilemma that faces all us senior citizens.
When the world coming along behind us cannot understand straightforward reason and logic – and indeed fails or refuses to operate by either – is it actually worth any of us (as I did yesterday) bothering to point this out?
One, because there’s a fair chance that nobody under forty-five will listen – simply because we’re old.
Two, because, even when we do express our views – and despite them being logical, correct and bearing the benefits of wisdom gained by experience – as likely as not, they will then immediately be dismissed by those younger than ourselves as ‘old-fashioned, out of date, befuddled and/or – as often as not – the product of a senile mind’.
I’ve blogged before on the point, but when (as they do) younger generations bang away at we oldies, constantly claiming/suggesting that we’re falling off the pace and/or becoming mentally enfeebled, there’s a human tendency in all of us that gets bored or weary of the onslaught and starts to think “You know what? More and more, people are coming up to me and telling me I’m full to the brim with dementia. Maybe they’re right. Maybe I should accept – just because they’re saying it all the time – that I’m ga-ga …”
… When in fact, deep down inside, we actually know we can still cut the mustard – and that what is really happening in the modern world is that former standards of proper behaviour, logic and the imperative ‘to do the right’ thing are all fast disappearing down the toilet.
And that we oldies are the only ones who can see it.