Grumpy Old Man? Not Me!

Mike Harling

Every so often these days, I turn to my wife and tell her I don’t want to become a Grumpy Old Man, to which she replies, rather unfairly, I think, “Become one?”

Allow me to rationalize…I mean, explain: I am neither old nor grumpy. It’s just that there are so may things in the world these days that need to be complained about.

Take my toilet seat (obviously, I mean in the figurative sense). It’s a good one—solid, well-constructed and firmly affixed to the toilet. But someday, it’s going to break and then I’ll have to get a new one and, when I do, all I am going to find is heartache, because new toilet seats—in addition to being made with inferior materials and shoddy workmanship—have universal bolts so any toilet seat can fit onto any toilet. This might sound like an improvement, but all it does is guarantee that any toilet seat won’t fit your toilet, and you will be forever doomed to sit on a wobbly seat.

It’s a small thing, I know, but they add up.

Like today, at the Post Office. I go there because I enjoy spending my afternoons standing in a queue watching the single clerk at the single service window arrange her ink pads and stamp books and then take a break. When I finally got to the window, I gave her my package and she handed me a six-page, A5 pamphlet typeset with text you could hide under a pin and told me to read it.


Six pages of this. For no reason.

This is why I know I am not a Grumpy Old Man, because I did not say (even though the situation certainly called for it), “Are you kidding me? Do I look like I have an hour or so to kill here for your pleasure? [then I would dramatically sweep my arm to include my long-suffering, fellow queue-dwellers] Do you think they have? What bureaucratic chowder-head thought this thing up?” Instead, I merely put the pamphlet aside and asked if I actually needed to do anything with it beside throw it in the bin. She replied, “No, you just have to look at it and sign a form saying you’re happy with what it says.” So, we acted out that farce and she agreed to mail my package (for a hefty fee) and I put the pamphlet in the bin.

So, you see, it isn’t my fault. If people would simply behave a little more reasonably (and don’t get me started on Brexit!) I wouldn’t have to complain so much. And I can’t help it that I happen to be this old. If this stuff happened years ago, and I had pontificated on it in the same manner I am doing now, I would have been regarded as an astute young man discussing current events.

So, don’t think of me as grumpy, I’m just expressing my opinions. And certainly, don’t think of me as old: if, as they say, 60 is the new 40, and 40 is the new 20, then I am simply a 23-year-old twice removed.

My wife, however, may disagree with you.