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Silver Threads: Getting treated like a dumbell rankles this senior

The other day I went to the bank with business that couldn’t be taken care of at the ATM, and it occurred to me to ask, while I was there anyway, about looking at my checking account transactions on the Internet.

Through paying credit card bills on my computer, I know the basics of online banking, but thought I’d get a little head start by getting a PIN and certain other info right at my friendly branch office. And it generally is friendly except for one particular teller who doesn’t like me and shows it. I guess I’ve offended her in some unintended way, which is totally probable, my family and friends would tell you.

Whatever, I wound up in front of her because the line moved in such a way that I couldn’t avoid it and put my request to her. She kind of looked surprised and puffed up a bit and huffed a little and finally said, “Do you have a computer?”

I should have replied, “No, but I have a microwave,” or even said a toaster oven. Oh, the opportunities we miss — at least I do. (But not everybody does. I had a snappy little senior friend who was perusing the headlines in a Boston Globe on an airlines counter when a high-falutin’ looking woman lunged over, grabbed it, and said, “That’s MY newspaper.” “Oh, I’m sorry,” replied my admirably quick buddy. “I thought you were selling them.”)

Anyhow, I’ll bet right now you’re struggling to discover what my subject is.

Well, I’ve just had another birthday and I get kind of paranoid around this time of year. It’s a hump year for me, the middle of a decade when the preceding five years have passed in a blur and you’re looking at a rapid slide into the next decade of life. It’s not being treated like the old woman I am that bothers me — I’ve told you in another column how nice and polite and helpful some people can be. It’s being treated like a dumbbell that rankles.

My husband — who’s five years my senior — doesn’t seem to care. He makes at the very least a phone call once a week for tech support from the Apple, Verizon and Kindle folks. He’s looking for entertainment as much as information. We sit at our computers across the hall from each other and sometimes when he gets started I have to leave.

“Don’t talk so low and fast,” he tells them. “I’m an old man, I’m hard of hearing and I don’t know where my hearing aid is right now. I’m a Southerner, too, and I don’t understand fast talking.”

They get through the session, he gets the information, and then asks, “And, where are you talking from? Oh, the Philippines. Well, the closest I’ve been to there is Japan. Changed planes on my way to China, and let me tell you —”

They either love him or pray they never hear that voice again. At any rate, they don’t fail to be courteous.

The caller was polite, too, the other day, when he told me he was doing a survey and asked right off the bat which age group I belong to. He then told me gently that they weren’t talking to seniors and quickly signed off. That hurt: being turned down by one of those pesky pollsters. My husband would have said, “Hallelujah, dude. I’ve already heard from about 30 of you this week and I’m a hard-of-hearing old man who doesn’t understand fast talking!”

Bettye Anding is a former editor of the Living Section, for which she wrote Silver Threads until her retirement. Email her at


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