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old lady holding up the line at a buffet Have you ever noticed how some elderly people lose all sense of politeness and decorum when confronted with something they want?  I don't mean to suggest that all the elderly are like this, but I have noticed that when a line is called--for any reason--many of the elderly will cluster in the place where they think the line will form, or they'll sprint to be first.  Then they brutally defend their position.  Perhaps the notion of impending death incites self-serving desperation.

Last week, I was waiting in line for a buffet on a cruise ship.  There was plenty of good food in sight, but anxiety rippled through the mostly geriatric crowd, as we had docked at a port and the passengers seemed to doubt that they could arrive at their scheduled tours with only two hours to walk down the gangway.  The line of hungry (or simply obnoxious) passengers stretched far into the hallway.  As I waited with an empty plate in hand, I realized that the line hadn't moved in quite some time.  Ahead of me stood a wide woman who was slowly, slowly ladeling select pieces of watermelon from the mixed fruit tub onto her overflowing plate of food.  There was a tub of perfectly good chopped watermelon right next to her, but she was so desperately focused on picking out the perfect slices that she didn't see it.  Other passengers wanted fruit, also, but she was blocking their access.  People began to walk around her in a huff.  She moved even more slowly, as if she sensed the mood of those behind her and took a secret delight in making them suffer. 

another passenger on the cruise ship Myself--I gave up on the idea of having watermelon that morning.  I did seriously entertain the idea of impersonating a ship crew member and moving her along by speaking in a loud professional voice: "MOVE ALONG, MA'AM, EVERYONE WILL GET THEIR SHARE.  THERE'S PLENTY FOR EVERYONE."

There are other brands of rudeness that seem almost exclusively the domain of the elderly.  Many times during this cruise, I encountered passengers who stepped out of elevators without looking right, left, straight ahead, or up.  I suppose the hunch of their backs, or short stature, made it impossible for them to see what they might be walking into.  They could only watch their feet as they shuffled--or speed walked--forward.  Needless to say, these types would often plow right into other passengers, and then act as if the person who was just standing there was at fault.

Finally, I don't want to complain about bodily functions that the elderly have no control over, but I have to wonder how much enjoyment a drooling nursing home patient really gets out of a cruise.  Our hallway smelled like...well...a mix of medication and outhouse stench.