Friday, February 8, 2013

Things I Never Do

Recently I was remembering a television show popular in the 1970s. It was called "Phyllis" and starred Cloris Leachman, a spin-off of her Phyllis character from the Mary Tyler Moore Show. The show centered around Phyllis (Cloris Leachman) and her family.

The show was funny, as I recall, but I only watched because of a character named Mother Dexter, portrayed by elderly actress Judith Lowry. Mother Dexter was the mother of Phyllis' father-in-law. Judith Lowry was in her mid-to-late 80s and actually passed away during the second season.

This show and the Mother Dexter role was the first depiction of a feisty elderly woman that I ever recall. During this period, older women either weren't portrayed at all or, if they were, they were shown as quiet, shawl-wearing women who cooked chicken soup and knitted by the fire.

"Phyllis" was different. Mother Dexter was fresh, opinionated, daring and hilarious as a result. I recall one episode where she expressed some outrageous opinion and drew shocked reactions in return. She then uttered some wonderful line to the effect of "I've waited my entire life to be able to say what I want to." It impressed me greatly and I never forgot the punch of that philosophy.

Most people are afraid of saying and doing the wrong thing. In this age of painful political correctness, we all have to weigh through ideas before expressing them. We wouldn't want to say or do something that could be considered un-"PC." Every day we hear about some sports figure or political start who happened to utter a phrase when they thought the nearest microphone was turned off or perhaps spoke in haste. The wrong words were uttered and the speaker has to scramble to apologize or assure his/her fans that he/she would never do so again.

Well, like Mother Dexter, I'm tired of tippy-toeing around to avoid offending anyone. At a certain age, we ought to be allowed to relax just a tad. I don't mean being overly rude or cruel to others. But we should let our hair down a bit and try to relax. It doesn't look like our society appreciates humor any longer, but we can take it down a notch anyway.

And so, I have compiled a short list of things which I no longer will do. Enough already. These include the following:

Hold for robocalls
If some boiler room telemarketing organization has me on it's list, I'm liable to receive calls any time of the day. A few days ago, the phone rang at 2:00 a.m. It was a robocall. I automatically (and foolishly) answered the phone and then had trouble going back to sleep. This will not happen again.

Stand in line to pay for something (except groceries)
Standing in line is part of living and occasionally we have to play along. I have stood in line to get into a performance or movie. I have stood in line to get my car serviced despite having an appointment. But I refuse to stand in line to give away my money. In a large nearby city during an after-Christmas sale, I was standing in line to buy an item for myself. I stood in line for a l-o-n-g time but the line was not moving. Finally, the stupidity of the moment dawned on me and I placed the item on a nearby counter and walked out of the store. This will not happen again.

Return to a restaurant/hairstylist/business where I had bad service
Remember that old saying about "You don't have a second chance to make a first impression"? Too true. There are plenty of services provided to the public that require effort on part of the service provider. I have walked out of restaurants where I sat holding a menu for more than a few minutes. A new restaurant has one shot at making me want to return. A hairstylist who chops my hair and charges me too much to do so will not see me again. The public should vote with its feet. If you don't like a place, don't go back even if your friends rave about the service. They simply do not want to admit they were fooled. It's a sort of ego thing.

Spend extra time talking to/listening to people I seriously dislike
Life is too short to waste conversing with people I seriously dislike. That's one of the greatest gifts of retirement: the ended conversation. No longer am I required to listen to the vacant observations of others.

Consider this maturing chapter to be a sort of game. Learn the rules and have fun with it. If not now, when?

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