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Why some seniors fly into a rage at convenience stores and hospitals

32 Comments

“Idiot! Fool! If you pack it like that it’ll tip over! What’s the matter with you? How long does it take to put a bento into a bag? Do you understand Japanese?”

Maybe the convenience store clerk’s Japanese isn’t perfect, he’s from elsewhere in Asia, but what he is learning on the job, apart from the language, is what many Japanese store personnel have long known: that elderly Japanese men can be very difficult to deal with. Some seem to make nuisances of themselves on purpose. Why, asks Shukan Gendai (July 24), do so many elderly customers lose their tempers so easily?

Shops are one common venue for this sort of thing; hospitals, another. “At the payment counter after treatment,” a hospital nurse tells the magazine, “if things seem to take a little too long, they fly into a rage: ‘What’s going on, why am I still waiting?’ You show them other people waiting patiently and they grumble, ‘I’ve already waited an hour!’ Almost always,” adds the nurse, “it’s men in their 70s.”

Why should that be? What is it about that particular demographic that conduces to behavior you – or they, for that matter – wouldn’t tolerate from a child?

A reason promptly suggests itself: life after 70 isn’t easy. Physical infirmities start to kick in, life begins to lose its savor, things that once gave pleasure no longer do. Hardest-hit – and therefore hardest hitting – of all, says Shukan Gendai, are former corporate executives. These men, in their prime, wielded power. They were respected, feared, deferred to. They spoke and their subordinates jumped. Now? They walk into a store, or into a hospital, and are treated like everyone else. They must wait their turn in line, and when their turn comes, the clerk, with no regard at all for former eminence, treats them quite as if they were ordinary people. They are ordinary people. It’s what time has whittled them down to.

Time, in fact, has done more than that. It has changed – drastically. It’s a new world, much faster and more complex than it was a generation ago. Behind the rage may lie a feeling of helplessness. And when, in addition, one’s hearing starts to go, as it often does beginning in the 60s – women’s voices, with their higher register, can be especially difficult – the sense of being at sea can at times be intolerable.

A new vent, especially now with COVID-19 keeping people home, says Shukan Gendai, is social media. A retired teacher and school vice principal, now in his 70s, opened a Facebook account and drew former students as “friends.” So far so good – but once a teacher, always a teacher, at least in his case. “What? You’re still only a junior executive?” he’d chide his former charges. Presumably the latter did what as children they couldn’t do – gave him the cold shoulder.

The longer people live, the farther they get from their former selves. Somehow, the elderly are going to have to learn how to face that.

© Japan Today

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

32 Comments
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So, in other words, the reason is "a sense of entitlement".

24 ( +26 / -2 )

@gp

exactly! My cockney veteran Grandfather died at 92 and bowed out gracefully. I hope I’m man enough to do the same as I age.

14 ( +15 / -1 )

I can’t remember who said it but someone said. “Some people can only make themselves feel bigger by chopping others heads off.”

13 ( +15 / -2 )

I am 69 and polite and grateful to all those who serve me. Cashiers, bus drivers, taxi drivers, waitresses, barmen.

I would never demean someone doing any of these lowly jobs.

I smile and often crack a joke with them to make them laugh, for a moment forgetting their day. In return, they are always grateful and happy again when I return. Smiling helps so much.

There is no excuse for rudness.

23 ( +23 / -0 )

Ah yes, a reality check. The realisation the "respect" you had experienced was nothing but delusions of grandeur must be crushing.

So anyway this is a long article to say, "it's because of a baseless and overinflated sense of worth. A addled mind incapable of, or unwilling to, reconciling the culturally enforced respect perviously experienced, and the realities of the world. Inutile, lacking the fundamental trait of an admirable person, integrity. An undeveloped person with anger the only skill acquired over a life poorly spent and as such the only tool available to recapture something which was only a delusions to begin with."

9 ( +9 / -0 )

In my professional life, I deal with a lot of older people. Most are really good.

There are some though that had very prominent careers who grew up in an era where bullying was a tactic you could use to get places, and that is sometimes evident in their behaviour towards us. These days being a bully in the company I work for is career suicide, but in days gone by I suspect it was almost advantageous. I suspect a lot of these older guys referred to in the article were bullies during their career.

16 ( +16 / -0 )

I'm in my late seventies and am thus all the more grateful for the neighbourhood convenience store, something one doesn't find, for example, in northern Europe...I'm amazed at how well trained, efficient, and patient the clerks are. I make a point of responding by trying not to hold up the queue and to express my thanks when the transaction is completed...For all I know there are people my age who treat clerks rudely, but I can honestly say that I've never seen it.

In San Francisco these days there are not a few younger "shoppers" who aren't rude to the clerks in retail outlets, as they don't need to interact with them: they simply walk out with whatever they want, and with no consequences. They then "fence" their loot...Let's be grateful that we live in Japan!

5 ( +8 / -3 )

Not having lived in Japan, I cannot comment on what may be the uniquely Japanese character of the rude behavior described. However, I have noticed a tendency for older people to occasionally lose their temper, here in the States. In some cases, it is because of the advance of dementia. In other cases, it may reflect the venting of all the aches and pains that can accompany old age. I have witnessed numerous times a lack of patience in older people, and have strived not to behave that way myself. Still, when overcome with pain, it becomes more tempting, almost unavoidable, to lash out at others. I have witnessed others go back and apologize for their rude behavior, and have also done so myself.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Not being in the bloom of youth myself and heir to many of the aches and pains of age, I do not hold that Ill manners are ever justified. Having been a manager and done menial jobs in a varied career I hold no job as being contemptible. To behave in the manner described in the article is despicable and demeans yourself.

Good manners never hurt anybody.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

@englisc

yer i agree. I grew up as a working class cockney and still grandad “learnt me” manners cost nufin. Like kindness it’s not a sign of weakness it a sign of being human or dare I say a little sophisticated… interesting sophistication in Japanese is always implying your rich which in English it does not always imply.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Article: Why some people act like *ducks

Who cares? Act like a duck, get treated like one.

You know what I mean
2 ( +6 / -4 )

They just realized that they have on average fewer time left to live than you or such slow and still younger shop staff. It’s not nice and shows very bad behavior but at the same time it’s very much understandable.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

For many people who have been conditioned to fear their own personal adieu from the stage of Life, every year is another year closer to an unknown end until, while the surface may appear calm, an insane panic is growing in the basement of the mind where the reptiles still live. There is also the loss of competence and self-confidence which does not enliven a sense of joie de vivre and tolerance either. Senescence is, really, an ever growing HANDICAP and perhaps viewing it as such might mitigate the criticisms of the still firm...

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Don’t make excuses for appalling and unacceptable behaviour. No one has a right to bully others. This is not about being old – it is about being a horrible person. They were no doubt similar when they were younger.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

The article doesn't even touch on the fact that men in their 70's in Japan are of the generation that was coddled their entire lives by women, and treated with deference by their juniors at work and younger people. Now they have a sense of entitlement as big as Mt. Fuji, and the grumpier and unhappier ones among them take out their frustration at anyone they perceive as being weaker: shop staff, clerks, women. I saw an older man walking through Shinagawa station, near the Takanawa exit, systematically make his way though the crowd purposefully slamming into women. This is what bullies who have most lost their power do in order to feel powerful again.

6 ( +13 / -7 )

@girl_in_tokyo Way to make it all about women. lolz

-4 ( +6 / -10 )

girl_in_tokyo

Seems pretty certain you haven't met many older women. There is no gender limitation on foul humored Humans and they come in ALL ages, genders, sizes, degree of disagree-ability, or ... pain. Any particular 'group' who seems to produce more of these behavioral types, like all Human judgements, is entirely in the eye of the beholder. I even know a country who had a president whose demonstrated behaviors would fit perfectly into the behavioral type disparaged here...

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Time doesn’t change people, it merely unmasks them!

8 ( +8 / -0 )

A reason promptly suggests itself: life after 70 isn’t easy. Physical infirmities start to kick in, life begins to lose its savor, things that once gave pleasure no longer do. Hardest-hit – and therefore hardest hitting – of all, says Shukan Gendai, are former corporate executives. 

I am going to play devil's advocate and see it from the point of view of an older person. They may have few opportunities to socialize now and probably look(ed) forward to a polite exchange at the market. Now, however, with technology, everything is changing quickly, not only products and foreign staff, but also confusing ways to pay with a trend to minimize human interactions. At my local convenience store the other day I saw a very old woman absolutely puzzled how to pay because you don't interact with the staff, you push a payment button on the screen and put money in. These new technologies may be very hard for older persons to deal with along with cognitive and physical decline not to mention the change in society.

The article doesn't even touch on the fact that men in their 70's in Japan are of the generation that was coddled their entire lives by women, and treated with deference by their juniors at work and younger people.

In all fairness, these mostly men worked their a$$es off for years and years and years. They were once juniors at their companies as well. I guess it is tough to have any empathy with such persons for you.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

In all honestly, personal experience, you understand, the elderly grumpy are in a minority.

A number do seem to select a time to shop at the Combini when the school kids are in abundance.

The counter staff don't need this nonsense, regardless of the age demographics.

850 yen an hour?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

For 850 an hour I might sit in a comfortable chair reading the English news.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I am 67 and I find myself to be a lot more humble than I was decades ago. I have arthritis in my hands but I try to do things quickly so that people don't have to wait on me. If I hadn't become the pinnacle of society, I have never seen the inside of a jail and at least try to live my days quietly and without being a burden to others.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

A retired teacher and school vice principal, now in his 70s, opened a Facebook account and drew former students as “friends.” So far so good – but once a teacher, always a teacher, at least in his case. “What? You’re still only a junior executive?” he’d chide his former charges.

This guy is really based and we need more teachers like him to actually get children to do something rather than just stare at a screen all day

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Can confirm, father-in-law is an a-hole

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Because these self-entitled fogies realize that they were given respect at their old workplace simply because of their age, not because they deserved it. Then, they realize they're nobody and they don't like it. Of course, there are other older folks who aren't like that, but this typically describes older LDP politicians.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

girl-in-tokyo writes:

"The article doesn't even touch on the fact that men in their 70's in Japan are of the generation that was coddled their entire lives by women, and treated with deference by their juniors at work and younger people...."

Are you a sociologist? Were you here when these "men in their 70's" were being coddled? Somehow I don't think so.

There are arrogant bullies in every generation, and some of them are women, both old and young. In my younger days I dealt with the generation that gone through the war and helped to rebuild Japan, while hardly living the life of Americans in the suburbs. There were the jerks that every foreign woman loves to rant and rave about. But there were also wise and even saintly sorts. And now they're almost all gone. Those my age, some of whom made my life miserable, are now old and tired. I've met some who now very much regret the way they behaved in their brash, ambitious days. Hey, how about cutting us some slack!

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Old people have no patience for incompetence and stupidity, if you are lucky enough to get to being old enough one day you will realize that. Good luck !

The young today or mostly not very sharp or on top of things, its easy to tell. It can become tiresome dealing with their fumbling and uselessness !!

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

There are:

Rude old people who act as above.

Rude young people who bully people younger or weaker than they are.

Other rude young people who completely occupy a sidewalk and make other people walk in the street.

Other rude young and middle aged people who weave their bikes through crowds of pedestrians, often hitting them with their bike.

Rude young people on buses and trains who sit in places for seniors, handicapped, or pregnant folks and ignore other passengers in those categories.

I don't think old people have cornered the rudeness market.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

There is only one person in my life at this moment I would like to be rude to. A new clerk at my local clinic. She asks everyone what their ailment is in a loud voice. I am the only one that tells her politely that it is for me and the doctor to discuss.

I have changed pharmacies for the same issue.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

People, be good to the staff who take care of you, they make a living from that job, let's be nice !!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I was terribly embarrassed when I was very, very rude to the lady at the desk of the dentist that I go to. I had an impacted tooth that was driving me out of my mind. When the dentist took care of the problem, it was like a new lease on life.

I apologized profusely, and brought the young lady I had been rude to her favorite drink from Starbucks, more than once. That was twenty years ago, and I am still embarrassed by how I behaved.

When I see other people behaving badly, I try to imagine what is going on in their lives that could lead them down the path of rude behavior.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I am with the jijis on this one. The younger generation shopkeepers are rude.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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