05 December 2014

Old and Grumpy

Back in 2005, I was in Vienna. I was throwing the garbage, when an old lady walking her dog saw me, and immediately shouted that I am throwing the garbage in the wrong bin. Of course, my German was weaker back then. And in the same trip, I was in the Royal Schatzkammer, and I wanted to take a photo of a crown. I previously checked whether taking photos were allowed, and yes they were, as long as there was no flash. Here comes another old lady, who told me that I couldn't take photos. I pretended I didn't understand her, so she just stood in front of me and blocked my view of the crown, and when it became awkward (I wouldn't budge), she went and called a guard, who promptly told her that taking photos is allowed, as long as there is no flash. Two old grumpy women: I thought it was the Viennese old female folk. But it turns out that it wasn't.

Last summer, I noticed several old folks here in Germany, automatically closing the windows in the S-Bahn, just because the noise outside is too loud, or the wind is too cold. They do that without even asking those sitting near those windows if they can close the windows.

Last week, I was in Warsaw, and while inside the Royal Castle, I saw a visitor who was confused, because the old lady was telling her to move to the next room, since the first room happened to be the final room in the plan. But of course, that wasn't obvious. You climb a staircase, and you would think that the first room you enter is the first room to visit. But no, this old Polish lady insisted that the visitor move to the next room, because the first room is actually the last room.

And earlier today, in the metro, I saw another grumpy old man in Berlin, who complained at another passenger, because the passenger was not quick enough to remove his bag on the empty seat next to the passenger, when all the passenger did was not see him quick enough. That small temporal delay resulted in a 5-minute heated conversation between the old man and the passenger.

At first, I thought, it was just the Viennese. But it seems that it's actually a more general phenomenon. Once you become old, you become grumpy too. I wonder why. I sure hope I am not like that when I grow old.


  1. I find old folks grumpier in Europe than in North America, come to think of it.

    1. Zhu,

      I agree with that observation somehow, and I don't know why that is the case.