Oct 16, 2014

Ageism or Agism: On Smelling Musty

  1. Ageism (also spelled "agism") is stereotyping and discriminating against individuals or groups on the basis of their age. This may be casual or systematic. The term was coined in 1969 by Robert Neil Butler to describe discrimination against seniors, and patterned on sexism and racism.
Have I said this before, "Just shoot me now and get it over with!"? Honestly, it is getting so I am almost afraid to go out in public looking and smelling like myself. See, the thing is I am getting old. That "getting old" is just plain annoying to most people that are not old yet. It is a problem.

Image from genfringe.com
Take the blog post I read yesterday about old people going to the grocery store. Wednesday With the Old Folks was written tongue in cheek and I think the author was just being funny. But it hit way too close to home.

I have heard almost every complaint about the grocery store already ...old people are slow walking down the aisles. Old people want to buy things at the deli counter and the young people want to take them out for doing just that. Old people go shopping on the wrong day, a young person's private day evidently. Then there is the complaint about old people writing checks (something I have actually thought about starting to do again because of credit card problems). It seems NO ONE does that anymore. Old women go out in public with flat hair in the back...I know isn't that horrible? And the list goes on.

But Wednesday With the Old Folks pointed out a problem with old people in the grocery store I had never heard of before...it turns out they smell musty! You heard me right. When there are a certain number of old people in a store, say on senior discount day, the store smells funny...musty it seems. I suppose the smell might be like the smell of old books...I don't know for sure. (See link for Why do Old Books Smell below) Now I think I have heard and seen it all but I am sure that being old and in the way will bring up something new before I post this article.

So, I repeat, just shoot me now!  Or.....

...if you want to solve the problem ask the old person in front of you to excuse you when they are in the aisle. They will move over. Try smiling as you go by them. If you are in a hurry to buy something at the deli counter go find another person to wait on you. If the old person in front of you is having trouble writing a check, offer to help. If there is a little musty smell, get over it. Sometimes being old is very hard.

Honestly, be nice people! It will help another human out and it will make you feel better.

Ageism is not nice, it hurts not only the person that practices it but also their parents and grandparents. There, I said it!



Juhli said...

Thank you for saying all of this! The people who are complaining need to hope they live long enough to be one of these "old" people one day!

Cindi said...

I think that 'old age' smell comes from not bathing daily (and exfoliating!). Ditto for the clothes-they probably aren't washed often enough. So, they smell also. As for the house or apartment smell, all you have to do is open up the windows daily and air out the interiors. I'm certain these things are difficult if one lives in a retirement home, hospital or assisted living.
My town (which is a tourist town) buses in the elderly for a day out. They lunch at one of the older hotels and casually walk up and down Main St. I don't pay much attention to them. Just part of the scenery I guess. I haven't encountered them much at the grocery store. When I do, if I sell them having difficulty, I help out.
I suppose that author could rant about young children as much as she did about old geezers. Neither rant is polite nor lady-like. Shame on her! Next she'll be complaining about injured vets, the disabled or the crippled.
People get old.
Get over it! And move on.

Anonymous said...

Hi from Australia!
After reading it over several times, I honestly haven't the slightest clue what her overall argument is.Maybe inferiority complex.
Author is not funny .

Barbara Torris said...

I was amazed at how many comments she got and not one was critical in anyway...well maybe me a little. It is a very popular thing to complain about the elderly and people see no harm in it. I, on the other hand think it is as harmful as bashing gays or ridiculing foreigners. But then that is just me.

Thank you for taking the time to read and comment. Hi from Oregon USA.

Barbara Torris said...

There are a lot of reasons for why anyone smells the way they do...but as you say, commenting or making them the butt of our jokes is neither kind nor lady-like.

Thank you for stopping by Cindi.

Barbara Torris said...

You are welcome Juhli. I suppose that what goes round will come around. I, however, would not wish that on anyone.

retirementallychallenged.com said...

I became so much more patient and understanding when my parents started to fail. Although I would never have dreamed of making fun of anyone older than me, I might have tried to avoid being inconvenienced by a senior's slow pace or momentary confusion. Not anymore. If I can help them, I do so. If they don't need my help, I take a deep breath, smile, and relax. I miss both of my parents and would give anything to still be "inconvenienced" by them.

Barbara Torris said...

I wanted to update you. This is the comment I left on CoffeeCatBlog. Now I am done with this subject...for a while. Here is it:


That is the problem with writing a blog…the sound of the words inside our head is heard as something different when a person reads it.

I am 73 and my husband is 76. My cat is ageless. We are still very active, golf 18 holes walking, travel and so on. The cat just lets us do what we want.

I did realize you were talking tongue in cheek but, since I am one of your NEW readers I did not know your age or background until I looked at your profile. As a human resource officer you are well aware that humans are not as perceptive as they could be.

I want you to know that I write for older people and about my life as I age. A lot of what I write is humorous. I do read a lot of younger people’s material and I find that ageism is something that those people think is okay. It is just popular and cute I guess.

When I write about the foibles of aging I usually do it in the first person. If I am telling on myself, that is okay I suppose. But I would never have it in my heart to talk about my mother in her last years, living in the nursing home and taking a little trip in the van to the grocery or a flower garden. It gave her such joy. I know she was slow and indecisive and I always prayed that someone would not hurt her feelings. I do recall some young people laughing at her when she almost fell inside a bathroom stall at a restaurant. That even hurt my feelings.

Having said that, I hope you understand that I speak out against ageism, even humorously put, everytime I see it. I don’t know how else to raise awareness.


connieJ said...

AMEN!!!! My mother used to say, "Just keep living." :)

Barbara Torris said...


Barbara Torris said...

I always loved the Gilda Radner quote, "It's always something!" But "Just keep living." may be a new favorite.

penpen said...

Thanks for laying it all out there Barbara. I'm about the same "age-ing" as you and, like you, I'm still active as is my husband [ride bikes, travel; he's writing a book, i'm working part time] and boy do i hate it [hate it! hate it!] when I'm offered a seat on the Metro. I guess I have a different image of myself than the world does. And that would have to come under the heading of "nice" discrimination. But a few weeks ago, my husband was coming home on the Metro with a friend who's 80--a hale and hearty 80, but 80. Subway was crowded and this friend eased himself over to the seats that say "priority seating for seniors and disabled," asked the woman who was sitting in the seat how old she was and then demanded the seat. Not sure what to make of that, except to say that some of us "age-ings" are still pretty assertive! wonder what anti-senior stories that woman told when she got home.

Anonymous said...

I admit I gave up my 5% sr discount because the grocery store was overrun with old people dawdling in the middle of the aisles. I also don't shop there on weekends, when young families clog the aisles and will try to out run you to the checkout. Grocery shopping is not my idea of fun, as you may guess.

I do have a flat bed head, but I don't smell .... at least I don't think I smell.

Barbara Torris said...

I can just imagine. I am thinking that if we would do more of that and let the world know that we are NOT slow or in the way...we are just doing what a living person does.

Thank you for your support!

Barbara Torris said...

Me either...I really try not to smell and have been trying since I was about 13. But I like 5% Tuesday at our little local grocery. It is kind of fun to just hang out with old people once in a while. They turn out to be very interesting people. :)

Barbara Torris said...

As for the flat head...what does one do about that?

Anonymous said...

This subject reminds me of my knee surgery. When I went shopping with a leg brace & crutches, people couldn't be nicer. When I just had crutches, people would push past me, never offer to help *& not look at me, I assumed it was because with the former, they assumed I was injured and, with the latter, they thought I was permanently crippled. It was an eye opener. To this day, I make an effort to pay attention to those who may be permanently disabled. There's no excuse to brush off those who "don't meet your important standards." Ok, I'm off my soap box.

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