It was going to be my checking day. Meaning, I reserved the day to check my students' papers—not at home, but in the posh ambiance of the mall lounge, a sneezing distance away from where I live.
(An aside: that huge shopping mall has been one huge grace. It is now my extension living room, where I can roam around or park myself anytime I please in shorts and tees.)
So to the swanky lounge I merrily went and got myself a cushy chair in a four-seater round table. Music and air freshener wafted in the wide, comfortable space. I was getting along fine by my lonesome, enjoying the peace and quiet, when three yuppies asked permission to occupy the rest of the three chairs.
They got busy with their tablets and android phones, very high-tech, while I checked away a stack of ruled yellow sheets with my red Bic ball pen, very low-tech. (I refuse to check papers on the internet; I need a respite from using the computer too long.)
We left each other pretty much alone.
Then in the eerie silence, one of the yuppies asked, “That's an awesome thing you're doing, Ma'am. Are you a teacher?”
“Yes,” I replied, without looking up.
“Oh, you're a professor!” he was impressed.
“Something like that,” this time I looked up and smiled.
The three of them were actually looking intently at my Jurassic activity; their electronics had ground to a halt.
“Well, for someone who's aging, you are lucky to have something to do,” one said.
“Yeah,” the other added, “most old people just stay idle.”
“You can be sure,” the third one joined in, “your brain won't get rusty despite advanced years."
My mouth made a move to manage one soft peep, thanks. My mind however, said, checkmate. My wit, honed through the years, was captured.
I re-told the lounge episode to several groups of friends my age after that. With mouth agape, they asked exactly the same question in varied phrases of consternation: “You took all that sitting down?”
“No, I stood up and went on a shopping spree.”
They rolled their eyes.
Lesson learned: Don't talk to strangers, or you become even stranger (and older) than you already are.
“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.” 2 Corinthians 4:16 (ESV)
Happy Grandparents' Day!