Little Old Lady on a Rock

This is a little story about how to take advantage of being old on a rock. Being old is not known for being a ton of fun, in general, so we’ve got to get our kicks somehow, right? As a society, we’ve created all sorts of euphemisms to help us deal with our aging: things like “active senior” to “young old” all the way to the less appealing “frail elderly.” We have aches and pains, creaky joints, and can’t get down or up off the floor – you get the picture. Though none of these tend to be my favorite descriptors, if I had to pick a place for myself on the above scale, I can be considered an “active senior.” I get discount cards, I get the good seats on the bus, and people hold doors open for me. I appreciate it, mostly. There are even times when I have to make the most of it and have learned to use it in some unusual ways. Luckily, on my rock, the elderly are treated with a great deal of respect by most islanders, including businesses and professional people.

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I care to venture that all of us rock dwellers have had to deal with the maddening, doesn’t-make-any-sense style of island bureaucracy that requires frequent fighting for what you need at some point in our time on a rock. I’ve quickly learned that the worst thing one can do in these situations is to challenge the competence of the bureaucrats at whatever level they reign. While aggression and confrontation have never been my style, patience has not been one of my strong suits either, so at times, rock life has really challenged my composure. I understand there are cultural differences I must learn to flow with (time has a different meaning on my rock, for example), so the question becomes: what is the most effective way to deal with these types of particularly frustrating situations that offers the least resistance for all involved?

Creative thinking is the answer, my friends.

I recently did a wire transfer from my account in Chicago to my account on my rock. Since I’ve done this several times before, I didn’t think there would be any problems. WRONG! What followed was a true comedy of errors game. First, the bank needed my ID, which they already have in several different formats in the foot-thick folder they have on me. They then asked that the bank in Chicago send them a note to state that they know me and I am a legitimate customer – a letter which, of course, they also already have in their possession. In spite of the extensive documentation provided to the source of the funds, verification was required again. Lastly, when they couldn’t think of anything else and yet were still looking for a way to turn me down for some reason, I was told that all of the documentation had to be originals – not scans or copies – and had to be mailed to the bank. Talk about nuts. I’m sure you’ve all been there in some similar fashion.

After my 3rd trip to the bank and an added delay of 10 days, I had had enough. My composure was quickly wearing thin and I decided unusual methods were called for to deal with what seemed to be a dead end. Time for the “Poor Little Old Lady” routine.

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Fortunately, I am now old enough to be able to carry this off and am careful not to overdo it for fear that it may one day lose its power. I only break it out when absolutely necessary and this was decidedly one of those times.

As I sat yet again, facing an unflappable banker who was repeating the elongated “no” that I had now heard more than three times, I called out the “Poor Little Old Lady” in all her glory. Swallowing my anger, I put my head in my hands, and started wailing:

“Oh my God, what am I going to do? I can’t pay my contractor and he’s threatening to stop work on my house! I don’t know where to turn! I can’t keep coming back here! There’s got to be someone who can help me…” *insert pitiful tears here*

At this point, all of the people around us were now looking our way, trying to figure out what was going on, and no doubt wondering how a bank could be so cruel to a poor little old lady. The banker was so embarrassed, she didn’t know where to look.

Finally, she started patting my arm and assured me, ”There, there… don’t take on so, let me see what I can do to help you.” She got up and disappeared behind a door, leaving me to my sniffles. No less than six minutes later, she reappeared with a document, asked me to sign it, and then personally did all the paperwork right then and there to deposit the money into my account. I composed myself once again, thanked her effusively, and was on my way with my banking finally completed.

Cheap trick? Maybe. But if there’s one thing living on a rock has taught me, it’s that one must get creative at times to solve problems in ways they never have before when facing bureaucracy run amok. It’s all a part of rock living.

Besides. I’m an old lady. Let me have my fun, will ya?

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Maria Davies

About Maria Davies

Maria has lived many lives in many places but has never felt happier than on her current rock in the sun, Grenada. In a former life, for many years she was a successful realtor in Chicago. Ironically, Maria has found buying a new pad in the Grenadian marketplace to have many plot twists... but she loves exploring, meeting new people, and growing a year-round garden in the sun.

One of Maria's new missions is to communicate with folks back home and to teach them about the Spice Island - its unique produce, lively culture, and welcoming ways. Maria is an avid lover of life who seeks to try new foods and meet new people.

Back in a past life, Maria was a huge supporter of the opera, theatre, and was active in many civic organizations and causes. She has now limited her organizational involvement to being active in the Grenada Association of Retired Persons. She's happy to share her adventure with her wonderful husband of many years. Together, they share a large family and love to show their kids and grandkids around their lovely island home.

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14 thoughts on “Little Old Lady on a Rock

  1. Priceless !
    I can relate to so much of your article: from the descriptions of how we are described, to the exact same details of your banking experience. I have never pulled the “Poor Little Old Lady” scene, but definitely filed that one away for future use. Thanks for sharing…hahahaha

  2. I had a good chuckle at your story. It rings so close to home.
    the teary bit I haven’t tried yet. I’ve had other ‘ tricks ‘ up my sleeve. LOL

  3. I
    I loved your article! I understand there are times when we must use the “I am old card”. I have had to use it a few times, feeling guilty at first, then realizing…I have earned it!
    When I first received my AARP card a few years ago, I was pissed! Now realizing there are benefits and advantages…..I proudly use it!
    Love your writing and look forward to reading your blog.

    • Thanks Pepper,
      Not too many advantages to being old, so why not make the most of what we do have? It’s comments like yours that keep me writing. Thanks.

  4. OMG! Thank you for this! As previously mentioned, I will file this away for future use in a desperate situation on my rock (or anywhere for that matter!). I’ve been dyeing my gray hair, but in order to gain more cred, maybe I’ll let it grow out!

  5. Ah– so nice to know that there are others like me on these rocks . I tend to be one of the oldest X-pats on ours , except for a 93 year woman who still does the accounting for her daughter’s businesses . I have never seen her so she may be a myth.
    I had a similar problem a few months ago here but it was via Skype with a bank in the USA. They treated ME as a criminal after I called them about a scam on Amazon where I was mistakenly charged for and sent two dozen pairs of men’s black wool socks (“Wool” to the Caribbean!) . Even after my husband and I had photographed my USA drivers’ license for them ( we have lived here half a year for the past 15 years after we retired and keep drivers licenses up to date for both places), they told me that my signature on the back was not clear enough and on and on. Finally I tried to sound tearful and pitifully told them I was 75, hardly a criminal etc. They finally had a top woman speak to me. She said, “Don’t worry. I think out of the box and do not have to follow the rules'”.Within a minute everything was OK and I was set free.

    But — pitiful and tears may also work for young island women,too.Besides making use of age stereotypes we usually feel indignant about, we may as well take advantage of gender and “good looks” ones too!

  6. An all too familiar tale. Sadly I don’t qualify for the old lady routine, being male but of a similar age? Mind you, having had 3 banks conspire to hold up my overseas transfer (blaming each other for who was at fault). I’m a fellow Rocky Island fan; islands of all kinds from Northumberland in the UK, to St Helena Island and Likoma in Malawi. They feature in blogs – if interested maybe start with: http://anorthumbrianabroad.blogspot.com/2014/10/alnwickdotes-no-7-best-laid-plans-of.html#more or http://anorthumbrianabroad.blogspot.com/2014/11/alnwickdotes-no-5-fish-and-chip.html#more

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