Politically Incorrect Seniors
The pioneer generation has no time for sensitivity
AT A RECENT SUNDAY LUNCH with my girlfriend’s folks, the conversation turned to travel misfortunes and her dad recounted the story of how his backpack got stolen while he was checking in at a hotel in Paris. Naturally questions probing details came from all around the table but the one that silenced the room came from my girlfriend’s grandmother. Hearing that the hotel staff reviewed the CCTV footage to identify the culprit, the tiny elderly woman shot from the hip, “Was he black?”
My girlfriend and I looked at each other, then burst out in laughter, more from embarrassment than amusement.
Impatient at the lack of a reply, she asked the same question again, louder.
Most of us have encountered situations where seniors show no concern about being politically correct. Some situations are fairly harmless, but there are those that can be downright mortifying.
Like the time I was on the bus... I had my eyes glued on my Pokémon Go app, ready to swipe at every Pokéstop.
When I looked up, I noticed a young man sitting nearby who was twitching involuntarily every few seconds ‒ Tourette’s, I presumed. I felt a pang of pity for him when an old lady boarded the bus and sat next to him. As his spasms continued, her eyes widened and she became uneasy. She stared pointedly at him and tried to get his attention, but he just continued to stare out of the window, probably to avoid questions about his condition.
As the minutes ticked by, the senior became visibly irate, shaking her head and tutting loudly. She then asked another passenger what was wrong with the man, but the young lady, embarrassed at the question, just said, “I think he’s not feeling well”, and looked away quickly. Deciding she’d had enough, the old lady called for the driver to wait at a bus stop while she shuffled to another seat.
Situations like these lead one to wonder if older people realise that times have changed and for the most part, people now try to be more sensitive towards one another ‒ whether out of their own will or merely observing social norms.
When I had the chance to ask my grandmother about her own inappropriate comments, she merely shrugged and said, “I’m just being honest.” She fully believes she hasn’t said anything inappropriate and it’s difficult to fault her because that’s just the way she was raised and acculturated into society. Ethnic, physical and social differences were not tolerated in her day. They were too busy trying to survive the war to worry about being impolitic.
I for one am glad that we’ve made progress in that department. With regard to inappropriate comments made by seniors, all we can do for now, without inciting too much outrage, is shake our heads and tut disapprovingly at them.
Terence’s grandmother on her own inappropriate comments: I’m just being honest