Why I’m Jealous of Old People

I was up all night with a terrible migraine and woke up this morning feel like I had been hit by a truck. All I wanted was to sleep off the lingering pain in peace, but instead, I pulled myself out of bed. I threw on jeans and a tee shirt, left my hair in the ponytail I slept in, swiped on some mascara and big sunglasses, and went to work. I looked like a WINNER.

But when I walked into my classroom, there sat a substitute. From Heaven. Obviously.

Turns out, I had schedule a sub to come in today waaaaaaaaaay back at the beginning of the school year when I thought I would be at a training today. The training was canceled, but I had forgotten I even booked a sub. BUT THERE SHE SAT! So, I quickly gave her my lesson plan for the day and then came back home and went straight to bed.

I love being home in the middle of the day. My neighborhood is a completely different place than when I’m normally home in the evenings. I see neighbors I never knew I had, service technicians fixing so-and-so’s air conditioning (it went out again at their house again?!?!?), and even get to see the school-aged kids waiting for their buses. Such excitement in suburbia!

My favorite part of being home during the day, though, are the old people. We live in one of the older, well-established areas of Orlando. It’s the kind of community that’s full of old people who have lived there their whole adult lives and young families who are moving in… well… as the old people die. Ahhh… the circle of life.

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But before they move on to that great suburbia in the sky, there are a few things old people do in my neighborhood that I am quite jealous of:

1. They never have more than one bag of trash on trash day. HOW IS THAT EVEN POSSIBLE?! We will have, like, 10,000 bags of trash out there and 2,000 tons of recycling on trash day, and our neighbor next door will stroll out in his bathrobe, set his one small, white trash bag out, and then wave at us and say, “Mornin’!” before turning back to his house. Chris and I stand there, up to our eyeballs in broken down pizza boxes and piles of Kleenex, staring after him like he’s got three heads. WHERE DOES THEIR TRASH GO?!?!?!

2. They look clean while they work in their yards. This I don’t even pretend to NOT stare at. I will slow my car down and gape out my window at them for this one. Don’t they SWEAT?! Why do they look so clean?! Some of them even have little outfits they wear to work in the yard, with little matching hats and gardening gloves. My favorite are the ones who sit on little stools and have their little trash bucket sitting next to them. When I work in the yard (which is, like, twice a year, both usually after Chris and I have had a fight about how I don’t help outside enough, so I stand there for a few minutes holding a shovel, take a picture for Instagram, and then walk back inside), I sweat before I even get outside. And then the bugs start to buzz around me because I’m sweaty. So, I stand in the yard, sweating, and swatting invisible bugs like an insane person. Oh, and holding my shovel. But not my old people neighbors. They look like they are in a Southern Living magazine gardening column. WHERE ARE YOUR GNATS, OLD PEOPLE?!?!?! WHERE ARE YOUR GNATS?!?!?

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3. Their garages are perfectly clean, organized, and sometimes even decorated. You know what’s in our garage? Neither do I because there’s so much crap out there, we can’t find anything! We don’t let the kids or the dog out there because I’m afraid they will get lost or trapped under something heavy and we’d never see them again. Meanwhile, at the old man’s house down the street, his garage is cleaner than the inside of my house. He’s got everything he needs labeled in color-coded storage bins, which are all sitting neatly in one of those storage bin organizers. We have storage bins, too. They are stacked in a spider-webby corner of our garage and half of them are sitting open where I’ve gone in there and just pulled the corner of the lid back to get out what I needed, instead of actually taking the whole bin down, getting what I need, and then securely closing the lid again. Last week, I even saw a neighbor PAINTING their garage floor. I can’t even SEE my garage floor. You win, Old Neighbor.

4. They get to eat dinner at 4:30pm. If I didn’t have children or a husband, I would eat dinner at 4:30 every afternoon. And it would be cereal. And sometimes, when I was feeling fancy, I’d even add milk. I’ve always envied old people for this. 4:30 is the perfect time for dinner. It’s right after my 3:00 snack starts to wear off and right before I start to get tired at 6:30. It’s the perfect time for a meal. And – BONUS! – if you go out to eat at the 4:30 old people dinner time, it’s way cheaper. Old people are just living my dream.

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5. They don’t have to smile and wave. Everyone loves a grumpy old man. We have several on my street, and every time I smile and wave at them, as I am obligated to do as a neighbor, they just look right at me and don’t do a thing. No smile. No wave. No tip of the hat. Nothing. And why? BECAUSE THEY CAN. And we’ll still love them anyway. BECAUSE THEY ARE OLD. “Oh, there’s grumpy Mr. Peterson,” we’ll laugh as we smile and wave and Mr. Peterson gives us this death stare. “Look at those cute little black knee socks he’s wearing! He’s just the sweetest!” Oh, sure. We have the sweet old people on our street, too. The ones who coo at the kids and yell out, “Enjoy this time with them!” as Gracie accidentally whacks me right in the knee with a baseball bat and Bean yells, “HOME RUN!” Friendly old people are wonderful. But so are the grumpy ones. And that makes me jealous. If I thought society would allow it, I’d yell curse words at people who drive too fast through the neighborhood and never turn my porch light on at Halloween, too. But only old people can pull that off and still have people say, “That Mr. Peterson. He’s a good man.”

Staying home today has made me feel renewed. I’m ready to go back to work tomorrow and fight the good fight. So that, one day, I can retire and be a grumpy old neighbor. I better start picking out my garage floor paint now…

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15 Thoughts to “Why I’m Jealous of Old People”

  1. Sarah H.

    Ha. This was great 🙂

  2. Retired grandparents kind of make me jealous too…except that they’re so helpful. I need them!

    1. Laura

      Amen to that!

  3. Janet

    Speaking as an official “old person” (I just turned 60, which is the new 40 I hear so maybe I don’t qualify after all)…

    1. There’s one bag of trash because he is only putting out the bathroom trash. Not the kitchen trash, which, for some reason, my husband cannot see with his 68 year old eyes.

    2. Yeah, why is that? I now have to wear long sleeves against the sun and all my long sleeves are my “good” clothes. Go figure. And cute hats are cute hats, so why not live it up?

    3. My husband defines himself by the condition of the garage. “Gotta go out and straighten up the garage” when he’s forgotten to put away a hammer or drill. I think it’s a way to avoid going to Lowes and still get the hardware experience.

    4. Yep. And evening snack time at about 7:00. We do Greek yogurt. It’s better for us than ice cream. Even the dog looks forward to it.

    5. We’re OLD. We’re trying to figure out who the heck this young whipper snapper is that’s waving at us and by the time we do and realize we should wave back, the opportunity is gone.
    And our memories are shot so the next time it happens we’re stuck back in the loop of who the heck is this whipper snapper and if it’s the same one or a different one but it doesn’t matter because, whoops, they’re gone again.

    Just think what you have to look forward to. Heh, heh, heh.

    1. Suzanne

      I’m DYING! This is great 🙂

  4. Lee Ann

    I’m probably what you young whipper-snappers think of as “almost” old … I’ll be 53 soon. The last two nights, my wrist has ached all night, and all I can think of is: “Dang. Wonder if this is arthritis?” And then I wonder: “Am I too young to get arthritis?” And then I wonder why I’m awake in the middle of the night wondering about this crap. And about the time I start to drift off to sleep, a hot flash hits me. Wonderful. Enjoy your whipper-snapper years, Katie!

  5. This is one of my favorite posts, Katie. I am becoming one of those “old people”. After losing my job I have been working for myself and at this point, if there is any way I can do it by only “working” part time, I am going to. I do not miss being on that working train at all. I felt your pain when you said you got out of bed, swiped mascara on and went to work. You are getting to the age where you will care less and less about what people think and more and more about what is real in your life. And it’s not gonna be work, Katie my girl,, not with you, methinks.
    I look at that my neighbors in their 70’s and am blown away by the amount of energy they have. I have very little now and am just starting to depend on my little “roller-alonger” garden cart. I hadn’t thought of taking the trash can, though. 😉
    Go forth, young woman, and sieze the day. Choose only what you reaaaaaly want to keep, and organize it as you go. I know you will do it very well indeed.
    And as for the garage floor, pour your color right into a new layer of concrete. No upkeep.

  6. Suzanne

    This made me laugh out loud the whole time! I think I’m an old lady at heart too…I long for days of spending time at home and enjoying my house…which I never see because I’m WORKING! Lol. But maybe I just need a day off because I do enjoy being young.
    You’re a great writer…love these thoughts 🙂

  7. Grandma Barnes

    Sweet Granddaughter – We prefer to be called “elderly” – not “old.” Just sayin . .

  8. […] Why I’m Jealous of Old People by Katie – I just love Katie’s blog. So real and often makes me giggle. […]

  9. My neighborhood is completely different during the day too! It’s so weird!

  10. love eating early dinner!!!! Always have!!!!

  11. A comment and a quick story: First, OMG, you are SO right about them looking clean while doing yard work! We used to live in an “old person” neighborhood and one guy always wore a collared shirt and dress pants every day. Even mowing his lawn! He looked like a cover of a Senior Living magazine! Meanwhile, I would mow our lawn in my grubbiest clothes, and end up looking like I was thrown in a compost pile at the end… with grass clippings and dirt sticking to all my sweaty skin spots. Unreal.
    Second, our first home was in an “old person” neighborhood. One of our neighbors was the of the death-stare variety. For years after we moved in, I’d wave and smile (I am like you, I have to!) and he’d just stare angrily at me. For a time, I stopped working, and I’m terrible at not working, so I baked. A lot. For everyone in our neighborhood. One day, I brought something to Death-Stare, and he was so surprised and excited, and started talking about how he was really shy, and he had wanted to say hello when we moved in, but was too shy at first to talk to us, then after a time, it was just awkward for him. He still, 10 years later, sends us a Christmas card every year at our new home!

    (Okay, nothing about this was quick…)

  12. I love my grandparents so much and the simplicity of their lives and needs also make me jealous too. How I wish everyone would emulate the character of old couples… then, marriage problems would cease to exist!

  13. I’d like to know who decreed that dinner should be at least after 6pm. I would be happy to eat at 5, then it’s all over and done with and there’s still time left in the day.
    It’s funny how the neat and tidy gardeners of the older variety was something lots of people could relate to. I was formerly of the dishevelled get down and dirty variety but have noticed that I can now come and go from the garden without getting hugely dirty. Maybe this is something that just does come with age. Gotta say no to anything matching though.
    I really enjoyed reading your post.

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