Friday, May 10, 2013

Things I Never Do

Recently I saw a photo of actress Cloris Leachman and recalled her 1970s television show. It was entitled "Phyllis" and was a spin-off of her Phyllis character from "The Mary Tyler Moore Show." The show centered around Phyllis and her extended television family.

The cast was great and the entire show quite funny. But I began watching because of a character named Mother Dexter, portrayed by elderly actress Judith Lowry. Mother Dexter was the mother of Phyllis' father-in-law. In reality, Judith Lowry was in her mid-to-late 80s and actually passed away during the second season.

Mother Dexter's character was the first depiction that I ever recall of a feisty elderly woman. During the 1970s, older women usually weren't portrayed in TV or movies. If there was an elderly woman in the cast, she was typically shown as a quiet, shawl-wearing woman 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 speak my mind." 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 analyze 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 star 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 left to apologize or assure his/her fans that he/she would never exhibit such behavior again.

Well, like Mother Dexter, I'm weary 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 be allowed to let our hair down a bit and try to relax. It doesn't look like our present day society values humor, but we should be able to speak our minds, within limits.

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 concert 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 a significant period of time. 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. Perhaps your friends do not want to admit they were taken in by the business. 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 merely because they have a cubicle adjoining mine.

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

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