Let’s take the heat/cold thing, for instance. Because of the Big “C” meds and the Big “M” change-of-hormonal/body-life thing, I get hot flashes that would make Jumping Jack Flash jealous. I can’t tell from one minute to the next if I’m hot or cold. On sweater. Off sweater. On sweater. Off sweater. Sleeveless t-shirt. Shorts. Long Johns. I can’t decide if I need a fan or a blanket. I might as well stockpile both, seeing my needs change on an hourly basis. All I know is that if I sat next to me at work or on the sofa I would make me nuts. I am becoming the fidgety fussbudget no one wants to be around. It might not be as irritating as the person who chews their nails or spits tobacco, but it comes close.
Or how about this cold thing I’m fighting? Sneezing, hacking, clearing my throat of unwanted phlegm (don’t you just love that word?) all day long gets on my nerves – and I’m the one doing it! It makes me want to stand up and scream, “I can’t stand you anymore! Go Home Already!” But being one of those long suffering, dedicated employees/spouses/parents, I know the world cannot go on without me, so I do the best I can to hide the irritating evidence. I hold my sneezes silently inside (providing for that occasional bug-eyed look), blow my nose slowly (and hopefully discretely), and suppress my cough with water and sugar-free Werner’s.
Is my patience level decreasing as my age increases? Am I becoming one of those sniveling, snorting, mumbling “old people” my mother warned me about? My tolerance level seems to be upside down these days. I don’t mind my grandbaby’s whining/screaming/eh-eh-eh-ing all the time, long after my daughter-in-law has thrown in the towel. Cereal thrown all over the floor, stones shoveled in the driveway, chewing the leg off the $10 Darcy Donkey I bought him at the last Gaelic Storm concert – so what? I credit it to him being a brilliant, inquisitive, experimental child. Yet listing to the blood curdling screams of an overtired, over stimulated child in the store makes my dander flake.
Have I always been this way? I’d like to think not. But it seems the older I get the more exaggerated any and all symptoms and reactions become. I find I have no tolerance for slow poke drivers, cell phone chatting drivers, and hot-shot, hot-rod drivers. I get bent out of shape when the cart in front of me at the checkout line has 30 items instead of 20 when I only have 10. People talking with their mouths full or slurping their soda or cracking their gum make me want to pop them in the chops. I can’t stand commercials on television or radio, so half the time I sit in complete silence to read or write or drive.
Why am I so irritable? Is it just my time of life? Or is it that the world around me has become a lot more obnoxious in the past 10 years?
I try and be Christian, I try and be Mother Teresa. After all, the hacker with the cough may have bronchitis. The screaming, tantrum baby may have intestinal pains. The cell phone yakker who isn’t paying attention to the road may be consoling a distraught friend or relative. The person who pulls out the bottom towel from the stack, leaving the remainder to topple worse than the Tower of Pisa, might have some sort of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and the thought of an untouched towel soothes their nerves. Everyone has reasons for what they do, for the way they behave. We are not all privy to their secrets nor their weaknesses. The Goddess encourages us to be easy going on those around us. For others it’s the Sufi Way. And I want to give the world the benefit of the doubt.
On the other hand, the yakker on the cell phone is going to drive into someone or something one of these days; the 30 at the 20 checkout fellow is an in-charge, defiant, control freak; the sneezer without a Kleenex will undoubtedly one day spread the plague; and the towel puller is just a slob who doesn’t clean up after themselves. In a world where we are doing our best to teach our children manners and to respect each other, the role models driving and working and shopping around us often leave much to be desired. I’m always saying I’m old school, but I would never talk to my elders (or anyone else, for that matter), the way some do. I would never leave a mess in a store for someone else to clean up (oh..that’s their job), cough in someone’s face, or bully someone.
I’m not saying I don’t talk on the cell phone while driving, or take more than 20 to the 20 check out. I do go to work when I’d be better off at home under the covers, and often talk before I think, making more work for myself than need be. But I am sorry for my misdemeanors; I do say thank you and please all the time. I hold doors open for those behind me and stop my car in the middle of parking lots to let people walk by. I try and say something nice to everyone I chat with, and bring extra food to parties even when I don’t have to.
I just don’t want to make myself (or others) put up with the mumbly, jumbly world of On Sweater, Off Sweater, Cough Cough Cough. That would be enough to make everyone scoot their chairs a little further away.
Unless I make it into a dance move…