So I’m zipping through the grocery store to grab a couple of things for dinner. Tired, hungry, and cranky. Groceries in hand, I waver between checkout lanes. Which will be faster: The lineup containing two people with carts piled high, or the lineup containing five people with only a few items each?
I don’t know why I bother wondering, because I already know the answer: Whichever line I choose will be the slowest.
But wait! A new lane just opened up, and there’s only one nice elderly lady with a quart of milk and a rutabaga ahead of me! I slide in behind her, dreaming of home and dinner.
The cashier rings up the order and the little old lady smiles and hands over a twenty-dollar bill. No coupons, no hassle.
“Oh, just a minute,” she says cheerfully. “I’ll give you the thirty-five cents.”
She rummages through her purse. Once.
My dreams crash down in disarray.
“I’ve got it right here,” she assures the cashier, extracting her change purse at last. “Here’s a quarter. I know I have a dime in here…” *rummages some more* “Oh, I guess I don’t. Well, here are two nickels… Oh, did I give you another quarter? Wait, I know I’ve got two nickels…”
Meanwhile, the people in the other lineups have all paid and departed. I clench my teeth and wonder whether they’d rule it justifiable homicide if I throttled that nice little old lady, who is still excavating her change purse in search of the elusive nickel.
But guess what? The fates must have a twisted sense of humour, because I just became that little old lady.
I know, I know; I’m sorry! *flees from enraged pitchfork-wielding mob*
It was an ugly shock when I caught myself digging through my change purse in the checkout line. I’d like to say I froze in humiliation and immediately whipped out my tap-and-go credit card instead, but I didn’t. I knew I had two nickels, dammit.
Clearly old age is sneaking up on me. Six years ago I mentioned that even when I’m looking great I still only look great ‘for my age’. That seemed important at the time, but now the surest sign that I’m getting older is that I really don’t care anymore. I’m fine with the way I look, and if anybody else doesn’t like it? Tough noogies.
But I’m not completely free of vanity. In fact, I’ve developed a foolproof way to look more youthful: Forget nips and tucks and lotions and potions – it’s all about geography. Where we used to live in Calgary, the median age is 36. In our new area on Vancouver Island, the median age is 66. So when we moved out here, I was instantly transformed from a worn-out old bag 17 years over the hill to a dewy young thing. Ta-da! And it only cost my life’s savings plus most of my sanity! How often do you get a deal like that?
And hey, maybe now that I’m so much younger I won’t have to hold up a checkout line searching for change again; at least not for another decade or so.
So that’s my two cents worth for this week. Wait, let me get my change purse…