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Recognized Social Butterfly


I am not Alone

When I entered a men’s restroom yesterday at a restaurant in Belfast, Maine, it was completely dark. I tried to turn on the light switch, but after a quick search, I couldn’t find it. I then scurried out, and fully reopened the door to have enough light to see where the obviously elusive light switch was located. No luck. I was getting a little frantic. There was no other appropriate restroom available. I thought that my only recourse was to complain to the manager. But before I did so, I noticed a light switch on the wall to the left of the restroom. Eureka! I turned it on, opened the door, and saw amply well enough to conclude my business, thus avoiding being known as the accidental tourist.

The next day, I was pleased to discover that I am not the only person befuddled in a senior moment. I noticed that two older women at the Portland motel where my wife and I were staying had plunked down their luggage at the elevator. There is a large, bold numbered panel (1-6) to the right of the lobby elevator. With obvious frustration, they kept pushing button number 3 so that they could get to their third floor room, but the elevator still didn’t arrive. As the panel light indicated, it was seemingly stuck on the sixth floor. The ladies were dumbfounded.

At first, I just calmly observed their distress. After a while, though, I realized that hacking away at that button was futile. There must be another way to commandeer the elevator. Before I had a chance to offer any belated input (at least momentarily, I was as confused as the ladies were), another motel guest pressed a small solo button to the left of the elevator. Presto! The panel light descended to the lobby indicator, number one. The elevator accordingly opened, much to the relief of the two women who then began arguing about who was to blame for their mistake.

Before I got off on my floor, I was tempted to reveal to both of them that I have often berated myself for misreading cues in lots of situations. Folly is, after all, gender-neutral on the senior short-circuited third rail. Instead of philosophizing, I just said that I was glad that they were finally getting to their destination. They nodded and shrugged; and as I left the elevator, they looked appreciatively at each other.



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