Last year I had finally gotten fed up with their dirty looks, pissy attitudes and horrible driving. You see, until the recent influx of growing business brought a few younger folks here, HHI was a retirement destination for some of the wealthier grey-hairs of the world who hate crowds, tourists and young people. But that has changed. And these retirees are not happy. So last year I told my wife I was going to just start looking people in the eye and saying "fuck you". Literally. So I did.
It started at my bank. I got a dirty look from the female teller, as I turned to walk away from the line I stopped. Then turned back to her, leaned over the counter and whispered "fuck you". I was so pleased with myself that I actually rang the bell on the way out. You know, the one that says "ring bell if you had great service". It felt liberating to say the least.
The next day an old lady bumped me with her cart in the grocery store. "Fuck you".
A few days after that an 80-something year old raced me off the line at the stop light. As her 2008 Cadillac screamed off the line, I just sort of pulled out with a look of bewilderment on my face. Please note that I have a 6.2L V8 supercharger under the hood. So she was having fun in her Cadi...big deal. Until she decided to cut me off further up the road, I mean within inches of my bumper. I slowly pulled up next to her, rolled down my window and proceeded to tell her to "fuck off". The guy behind me at the light witnessed this and gave me the stink-eye. I told him to fuck off as well.
I was so amused at the looks on their faces after each "fuck you" I handed out. It was awesome! Just these old wrinkled, blank looks of surprise.
My wife has since made me stop this practice, but it was fun while it lasted. And lately I've put a lot of thought into why some old people are just assholes.
Now, before everyone starts to think I'm just the world's biggest dirtbag, I'm not. I'm a genuinely nice guy that just has very little patience for the human condition. I'm a Darwinist. The plight of others doesn't affect me the way it does most people. I see the world for what it is. So shoot me.
I have, however, cracked the mystery on why The Greatest Generation hates the world.
My grandfather served in WWII, he was part of the 3rd wave to hit Omaha Beach on D-Day. His twin brother stormed Juno beach just hours before. They both survived. And it was a God-damned bloodbath. The American public would never stomach such a day in current times. We've gotten far too soft, but that's for another blog. But to the Greatest Generation, it was their greatest hour. At home, my grandmother was working in a factory in Troy, NY making bullets, tank armory and combat communications hardware. This was one hard-core bunch.
This was the generation that decided blacks had a right to vote. They discovered penicillin in 1941, and figured out how to split an atom shortly after. They made unemployment disappear after being born during the Great Depression. They treated communism as a disease and lynched everyone who so much as smelled like socialism, even Alger Hiss was demonized after the dude played a major role in putting the New Deal in place. This was the generation that saved the country from mass illiteracy with the Servicemen's Readjustment Act (G.I. Bill of Rights) which entitled returning soldiers with an education. And believe it or not, they invented computers!
With all of this in mind, it's easy to put yourself in an old person's shoes and look around at the infrastructure, transportation, education and power of the United States. The world was turned on its axis following WWII when the U.S. and U.S.S.R. emerged as the two world super-powers. They now look outside their windows everyday and think to themselves, "we built this. We built all of this."
There is a sense of entitlement, ownership and pride that the Greatest Generation has when it sees the world around them. Something you and I will never fathom, or for that matter, feel. We were born into this. What they created from scratch we see as something that was always there, something we're accustomed to. And quite frankly, we treat it like complete shit. We sit on our couches and complain about unemployment rates and food stamps. That sounds like lollipops and chocolates to a generation that survived gas-shortages, bread lines, and war. And I mean WAR. 416,800 American servicemen were killed in WWII. 65 million people worldwide lost their lives. But the greatest military empires ever to threaten America were staring back at us. And we fought back, ultimately thwarting the world's greatest evil without so much as asking for a "thanks", let alone a "fuck you".
So I begin to understand their attitudes and the disappointment the generation sees in its younger off-spring. We'll never truly know what building a nation is like. Or what saving that nation from the greatest threat to mankind is like. The pride of older folks in this country is amazing, and we take it for granted. All of it. The simplest little thing that sixty years ago was an impossibility, we take for granted.
I remind myself of all these things when I see "the old" acting ridiculous. I take a moment to remember my own grandparents and the sacrifices they made for all of us. Then, I remember what assholes they were...God rest their souls.