I don’t really feel all that old, even though I talk about it constantly, and Nurse Judy, my critical alter ego complains about it every day.
I am always surprised when folks rush to hold a door open for me or ask if they can help me when I am carrying something a little awkwardly.
I always thank them profusely and insist I am doing fine, marveling at how many wonderful people there are in this world.
I give myself a pat on the back for my organizational skills utilized whenever I have to go downtown or out of town. I prepare a total well-planned drop-off and pick-up event. That is what happened to me this week.
I had ordered a stick vacuum online at the recommendation of the web site and since my Dyson had died.
When it arrived, it was a huge disappointment. The canister had residual grains of dirt in it and the brushes were fluffy with dust. This was a used item. Not only that, it was missing the charger so it was absolutely unusable.
I had to try to pack the whole thing back up in the convoluted cardboard with its special sized cutouts for each piece of that machine.
This took me a long time, but I finally could close the box. Then I had to wrap it in brown paper and tape it with the return notice inside and the shipping labels outside.
This was another exciting event because the cat grabbed at each hanging piece of duct tape getting it stuck in his fur.
Finally it was ready to take to a UPS store in Tallahassee (without a tuxedo cat being shipped along with it).
I then planned out my itinerary to do many other errands along the way. I stopped and got gas and then pulled into the post office to send off another package.
As I waited in line I noticed that the return label was missing from my package.
With social distancing, my spot was not next to the central counter, but I did not let this deter me from my task.
Somehow I found a pen in my overloaded purse and scribbled my return address on the package, balancing it between my knees. I managed this without falling on the post office floor and having to shout, “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.”
Proudly I took it to the cashier when it was my turn.
Next I stopped at the bank to deposit a $2.45 royalty check. I think the clerk snickered a little as she called me remotely in my car and asked me if that was all I was there for.
“Of course,” I told her. “I need to deposit them before I forget them.”
“Well, this one is dated six months ago,” she said, now actually chuckling openly.
“I didn’t forget it,” I said defensively. “I was just waiting until I didn’t need to make a special trip downtown.”
This was a weak defense as I had been downtown several times in that six months, but she didn’t need to know that.
Proud of the way my day was going, I traveled south to Tallahassee and somehow got my package into the UPS store. I was now puffing and red in the face, but they quickly relieved me of my burden and gave me a receipt.
There is a big Publix next to this store so I puffed over there.
Once I had a buggy to lean on like a walker, my puffing eased up and I had a great time piling my cart high with new items I usually don’t find and definitely do not need.
I proceeded to checkout, cheerfully conversing with the cashier who looked at me strangely.
I imagine she was wondering what I was going to do with that matzah ball mix, that caramel spread from South America and the egg drop soup from Asia.
She was probably wondering what nationality or religion I was.
I bade her good day and trundled out of the store with my unique geriatric gait.
Once outside a cart boy came running over and asked me if I needed help getting my groceries to my car.
“Thank you so much, but I’m fine,” I gushed.
He looked at me quizzically.
“Are you lost?” he asked.
“No,” I said sharply. “Why do you ask?”
He pointed to my chest. “Because you’re wearing that large label with your name and address printed on it.”
I looked down. Sure enough, that label had come off my package and stuck on me. No one had told me – not the service station folks, the lady at the post office, the bank clerk, the UPS man, or the cashier at Publix.
It took the bag boy to bring it to my attention.
He was worried that I couldn’t get home.
My face was red again, not from dyspnea (lack of breath) this time but from embarrassment.
“I know my way home,” I said sharply. “That is just a label that fell off a package.”
I hurried to my car trying to act spritely and intelligent and not old.
I noticed that he watched me until I was out of sight.
The truth of the matter is this didn’t happen to me because I am old. It happened to me because I am me. The same things happened to me when I was young. Everybody just laughed about it then.
I guess I shouldn’t tell people that though.
Someday I may need someone to take me home.
Oh, the joy of aging!