This is pretty much how I’ve looked up to older people my whole life – a bit of awe and wonder.
You know how you hear stories about people who hit the lottery twice? Well, that happened to me, in the same day, with one minor difference. Instead of winning $350 Mill and retiring at age 35, I had TWO SIMULTANEOUS encounters with Mr. Gray. Ok, and I had to shell out a few bucks for labels. SameSame. Anywho, it was like the stars collided to give me a double dose of darling seniors.
This may surprise noone, but mailing packages is not typically one of my favorite things to do, ’til now. The other day I headed to UPS, my new favorite hangout, to mail some returns (I’d say Amazon Prime is 2nd in line to my addiction to the elderly). As soon as I got there, I noticed it wasn’t the same sweet middle-aged “What can I do for you sweetheart” lady I always see behind the counter. No no. It was Mr. Gray. And while I love that lady because who doesn’t like being called sweetheart at the end of every sentence, but BYE FELICIA.
Well, voted off the island for this shift anyway. Frankly, not only was I elated about this new employee, but I was surprised and thought to myself:
“He’s like 90 years old. Shouldn’t he be doing a crossword puzzle or watching “The Wheel” right now?!
FYI: That’s senior speak for “Wheel of Fortune” (thanks Grandpa). Shame on me for putting Mr. Gray in a box!! In all seriousness though, it is a common problem in today’s society to stereotype the elderly as unable, both physically and mentally, to do a variety of things. Due to this, not only are we used to seeing them in certain roles in limited environments, but we don’t offer the same opportunities to them. Ageism is real and while there are laws to prevent discrimination based on age in the workplace, it’s still a reality. If you’re unsure of that, ask a 50+ person if they put their college graduation year on their resume. It’s rare to be hired as a senior, and the older one gets, the harder it is and more unusual it is to see. I think that reality is such a shame and disservice because seniors are capable of doing so much more than playing bingo, including contributing in the workplace. That day, Mr. Gray really put my thought to shame as he clearly loved his job AND was so fast on the computer. Not to mention, he was easy on the eyes as always 😉 [Is that weird that I said that? Yeah, who am I kidding. Oh well.]
*JUMPS OFF SOAPBOX*
But wait, there’s more! Whilst capable and confident Mr. Gray was kicking butt one scan/label at a time, Mr. Gray #2 started to roll up, literally, in his wheelchair. *Cue praise songs* I mean, what did I do to deserve this, in one day, in one store. Apparently, American Legions are soooo last year, because UPS is the place to BE! In the midst of all this internal excitement, I darted to the door to help him open it. (I always look for an “in”) After a little chitchat, which is honestly, sometimes a bit forced on my end, I went to leave and said: “Have a nice day!”
Normal responses one expects to hear:
- “You too.”
But no, not Mr. Gray, he always exceeds my expectations; he rocked my brown box world and hit me with a: “It already has been…you helped me.”………SWOOOOOON. WHAT?! MARRY ME. NO THAT’S WEIRD AND WOULD NEVER WORK SINCE I’M HAPPILY MARRIED. JUST HANG OUT WITH ME FOR LIFE. Luckily none of those thoughts actually came out of my mouth. I was just kind of in awe of him. Way to keep me on my toes Mr. Gray. I’ve never heard such an optimistic and delightful response to a a boring phrase people just say on autopilot. And now you get my point. Mr. Gray is extraordinary; he expressed good old fashioned gratefulness for a tiny gesture most of us would take for granted.
So I left UPS with 2 gems. No, I did not take Mr. Gray 1 & 2 with me. But, I did leave with 2 lessons learned: 1. Some seniors love to work and can do a damn good job. 2. Find even the smallest opportunities to be grateful.