• January 2, 2014
  • blog

“Well!” exhaled the black lady in front of me in line at the post office.

“I’m just tired of S–t”, she went on to complain.

As I see life, it’s our personal responsibility to reach out to a fellow sufferer, and so I did just that. With what I wanted to be a reassuring hand on the back of her shoulder which was right there in front of me, I said, “Count to ten.”

“ Girlfriend,” she wheeled around to say (with a breath full of exhaled cigarette residue), “I just counted to three – that’s what I been told to do.”

“Somebody white told you that,” I responded and went on to add, “As black folk we gotta keep countin’ – three don’t get it for us.”

The postal clerks were slow, which meant I got an earful!

My lady said she was both tired and grumpy. She explained to me that her daughter who she lived with was a constant complainer about this grumpiness and that she, Ms Mama, felt that at the ripe and golden age she had now reached, she don’t have to explain herself OR put up with S–t.

I couldn’t agree more. Age and seniority have great merits in the world of parenting. Well, let me put it this way: it should.

And if you grew up back in the day, in an old-time black household, age had more than merit – age garnered respect. Grouchy wasn’t a word in a black household; that was simply how the grandparents and other folks who had grey hair behaved themselves.

Speaking of hair color, not that one can tell much by things like that these days, but the tired mama in front of me didn’t have a grey hair anywhere to be seen.

And I was most definitely eye-balling her roots.

By now, she’d counted way past the suggested ten and just before the clerk said “Next,” I got a word in to ask just how old this grumpy old lady was.

Turned out she’d just celebrated her fiftieth birthday and part of that gala was her preparing all the food for the clan and announcing to them that the free ride on her nerves was over.

She completed her transaction at the window, and as I stepped up for my turn, she turned around with a seemingly calmed-down facial expression and flashed me the V for Victory sign.

Yup, I’m grumpy, too. Tired most of the time. Raising kids can wear a person OUT. Talk about a victory sign – well, as the expression goes, “It’s not over ‘til it’s over.”

I’m not claiming any victories on my end. I did just celebrate a 77th birthday marked by years of creating a certain amount of havoc (grouchiness) for all of those I encounter wherever I might happen to go.

My mother always asked why couldn’t I just be nice. She got no answer and I don’t suspect she really wanted one.