I was sitting at one of those Starbucks that are jammed into a mall. It’s not a regular self-contained one. It almost feels like (it is) someone built the mall and then a few years later they decided they needed a Starbucks. It’s right in the middle of the main corridor so it’s like someone just shoved a few comfortable chairs and a counter in the middle of open space. It doesn’t have that cozy, enclosed feel of, you know, an actual coffee shop.
I ordered my coffee and some kind of breakfast sandwich and took my seat. I let out a sigh of relief because it was the one day of the week I don’t work and I had no place to be anytime soon. I like to eat slow and relax and the chair was soft and comfortable. To my right was a little end table and to the right of the table was another identical comfy chair and its occupant was an elderly caucasian (on causal inspection not that I think race is so simplistic) gentleman wearing huge, uncool, old people dark sunglasses, his mouth slightly ajar, and he appeared to be sleeping.
Hell yeah, I thought. When I’m old I’m gonna whatever the fuck I want, too. Whose gonna bug an old white man? No Starbucks employee, that’s for sure. They only harass certain people who are doing nothing in their stores.
“Hello there,” he said in a heavily accented voice.
I nodded. “Hi,” I replied.
“It’s supposed to be very warm today,” he said.
“Yeah, it is very hot out there,” I nodded.
“You know, I am 91 years old,” he continued. “I worked until I was 77. I have been in this country for 42 years.”
I nodded. “That’s a long time.”
“Don’t retire. It’s bad,” he said without elaboration. He frowned. If sadness had a face, it was his. He comported himself.
He continued, “What is your profession?”
I replied, “I’m a translator.”
“Which languages do you translate?”
“Spanish to English,” I replied.”
He nodded. “I speak 4 languages, you know?” He nodded again. “Persian, English, Turkish and French.”
I nodded. “I wish I could speak that many languages.”
He smiled. “I better get going. It was nice chatting with you.”
I smiled back. “Have a good day.”
He nodded and walked away very slowly.
As the three of you who read this blog know, I don’t much care for people. I don’t much care for people. Of any age, color, color, or creed. But I do like talking to old people sometimes. When a person reaches a certain age, they are generally out of fucks to give and they’ll give you their truth, unvarnished. Sometimes they have very full lives with lots of people they love around them all the time. Sometimes they spend their Sundays alone in a mall Starbucks, chatting up strangers.
I’m not sure if this was a typical Sunday for this gentleman. I hope he was just grabbing some alone time. He may not have been kind all his life but he was kind and polite to me and that’s all I’ll judge him on.
I appreciate his advice. He meant it sincerely. It was an honest warning. He didn’t know me. He didn’t owe me a thing. But he gave me some free wisdom. And I appreciate it.
As a gigantic financial fuck up, the reality is that I won’t be able to retire. I’m not alone. There are millions of us who are probably going to have to work until we can’t anymore.
Regardless, I’ll take wisdom any time I can get it.