Learning through Laughter

Bob Owen, Humorist

I’m used to it now.   By the time I reached my late 50s, I’d heard it so much that it even sounded OK.  But it was hard getting used to.

I’ll never forget the first time anyone said it to me!

I was walking through the company where I worked, and she came out of an office and said, “Good morning, Sir.”

I thought to myself, Excuse me.  But actually what I said was  “Good morning Marcie.  You don’t have to call me sir.”

And she said  “Oh that’s OK, MR. Owen.”

She called me Sir.  She said Mr. Owen.  I couldn’t believe it.  How dare she say that?  I couldn’t be that much older.

Let’s see.  I was 48 at the time.  She had just celebrated her 4th anniversary with the company, and she said she came here right out of college.  After she got her master's degree.  I gave her the benefit of the doubt and figured she started college when she was 18 years old.  So, with a minimum of four years, she was at least 22 plus 2 more years for graduate studies.  That's 24 maybe when she graduated.  So let’s say she was 28 at the time. Oh my gosh. I would have been 20 when she was born.

That’s pitiful.  I had sweatshirts her age.  You know, the kind my wife doesn’t let me wear outside the house because it’s so worn and filled with holes.  And, also the kind I bought in college knowing my mother would never see it.

I stopped her right there, in the middle of the hallway and said, “Marcie, my name is Bob.  Mr. Owen was my Dad, and he’s been dead several years.”

She didn’t even smile.  She just said something like, “Yea sure.”  And you know what she did next.  She rolled her eyes at me!  Like my sons used to do. I thought, How rude.  I’m glad my children don’t act that way.   

Then I realized what I had said to myself.  I had compared a coworker with my children.  No wonder she treated me like I was so much older.  I was.  This was not an easy thing for someone just beginning middle age to want to handle.

As I walked into my office, my secretary, who had heard this entire conversation, said, “Wow, MR. Owen, you certainly are looking “mature” today.

I couldn’t believe her. I did the only thing left to do.  Stuck out my tongue at her, walked into my office, and slammed the door.

That was only the beginning.  Some years later, I was going to work and pulled into a fast food drive-through for coffee.  The early-morning business had cars lined up halfway around the building.  So not being a patient sort, I quickly parked the car and ran inside and ordered coffee.  The girl at the register said, “Forty-seven cents, please.”  That got my attention.  I responded, “I like the price, but why is coffee so much less this morning?  You having a sale?”  “No sir,” she replied.  “I gave you the senior discount.”

I was not happy.  “You could have least asked my age to indicate some doubt on your part,” I said.

She rolled her eyes at me!

Rudeness abounds.  When I was raised, my parents taught me to fake it.  You didn’t ask people their age or indicate that you might want to get them through the grocery line quickly in case they didn’t make it.

Last year, my wife and I joined a fitness center.  Over the years, we’ve been conscientious about staying in shape.  When I stopped by the gym to ask about the particulars of joining, the attendant told me I first would need to get a signed release from my doctor saying it’s OK for me to participate in regular exercise.  At this point, she didn’t even know my name, not to mention my age.

“Why would I have to get a doctor’s signed permission,” I pushed.  “We need that for all our elderly clients,” she sneered.

“At least you could have asked my age first,” I snapped.  I did the only thing I could think of.  I rolled my eyes at her!

Date of Blog Story: 
January 15, 2008

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