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Posts Tagged ‘ageism’

I watched, as our salesperson went to ask a male colleague a question on our behalf. We were making an important purchase—a new car—and had several queries.

‘No, that’s wrong!’ her male colleague said loudly, frowning. ‘Don’t you remember? You take this amount off!’

I felt sorry for our salesperson and, when she returned, pretended I had not heard anything.

Soon after, she decided to doublecheck something else, this time with her senior manager. A moment later, he strode across to us and took over from her.

‘I’m not sure where she was up to,’ he told us with a disapproving expression, as he looked at the paperwork on the desk. ‘I thought she would have explained all this to you already.’

I did not warm to his slick, arrogant tone and again felt sorry for our salesperson who had done her best. As he talked, she stood in the background—although I wondered if she might have preferred to be invisible instead.

Somehow, I was sure I detected some blatant sexism in all this. Our salesperson had been doing well—and I felt her male colleagues had put her down in a very public way.

Yet the previous day, I thought I had noticed some hints of a different sort of ‘ism’ in this same salesperson’s response, when we told her we wanted to go away and think about our options.

‘That’s okay,’ she told us. ‘But don’t leave it too long, otherwise you’re likely to forget all the things I’ve told you today!’

Was I supersensitive? Quite possibly! Yet this wasn’t the only whiff of ageism I sensed while ordering our new car. When it came to paying our deposit, we were ushered into a different office.

‘Are you comfortable with transferring money online or would you prefer to pay by bank cheque?’ the girl there asked us politely, unaware how condescending she sounded.

My husband smiled and told her that transferring money online would be fine, thank you. I felt like adding something like ‘despite how elderly and decrepit we might look’, but managed to refrain just in time.

We can all tend to judge others so easily—just as I may have already done in this post! We like putting people in boxes. We so often assume all elderly people lack certain abilities. Some of us assume women are too illogical and featherbrained for this or that role. And some of us assume so much too about people from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds. We may not mean our comments to sound patronising or judgmental—quite the opposite, in fact. Yet, maybe taking a little more thought and care at times before blurting things out would be so much more helpful.

I keep thinking of Jesus’ own stern words too about judging others:

Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults—unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own.  Matthew 7:1-3 The Message

Hmm. I hope we can soon become blind more often to those smudges on others’ faces. After all, God has looked past the smudges on our own—and still does.

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