Complaining is a minefield.
I am not a complainer. I am not grouchy. Positive and happy are my religion. “Don’t complain, don’t explain,” has been my lifelong slogan.
But now that I am une femme d’un certain age, it appears that complaining is “unbecoming.” Instead of hearing my words, no matter how tactful and intelligently delivered, they hear, “grouchy old woman.”
They do not view me as a woman of discerning tastes, someone who might actually be right, or from whom someone could possibly learn a thing or two.
This is bothering me and I don’t have any solution, but I’d like to hear your thoughts on this.
Complaining properly is an art, which is why I wrote “How to Complain” on a previous blog, The Portable Mother.
Throughout my life if I have complained, I was listened to and the complaint registered (for the most part). Now my words sit uncomfortably in the air and I get a bad rap. (Grouchy. Old. Woman.)
Part of this has to do with the rise of the cult of positivity. I’m all for making the world a positive place and not putting negativity into the universe. But when this political correctness stifles the ability to express an opinion…me no likey.
If I am paying for a yoga class and the teacher can’t teach… shouldn’t I have the right, as a paying customer, and even an obligation, to inform the owner of the yoga studio that the teacher is sub par and actually dangerous to work with?
As sweetly as I comment, I am waved off as an older woman with an arthritic hip who can’t do the poses anyway.
This is my first experience of ageism. What that means is, older people are invisible. We are not the main characters anymore, the young, vital consumers in the prime of life. You’ve had your chance, now move over.
I dined at a new restaurant the other evening. That’s a risky proposition in Merida. I didn’t have much hope but I was ready to be delighted.
The food was dreadful. Two bites of the hors d’oeuvre and I slid the dish away. (Gordon Ramsay taught me that. You have the obligation to your body to just say no.) I suspected they would recycle the remaining proscuitto pickled vegetable rolls, so I asked them to wrap them up for me. Upon leaving the restaurant, I threw them into the first trash can I saw.
Next came the main course, in this case, a highly touted fresh pasta with eggplant, tomatoes and ricotta salata. Instead of being the dreamy, light dish I have cooked in my own kitchen, it was an assault on my palate: sludgy, overcooked pasta drenched in over salted tomato sauce. There was no respite, one bite after another.
When the hostess asked me how everything was, I smiled feebly and asked for the bill. Didn’t want to put negativity into the universe? Didn’t want to rain on their new restaurant parade? Didn’t want to upset the chef?
In my fantasy, I walked into the kitchen and showed the chef the light technique of this dish. But my job is not to teach a chef. My job is to pay $30 for something delicious. To pay $30 for a meal I couldn’t eat, not good. The chef didn’t hold up his side of the deal. Oh, and it was my birthday.
I paid the bill, left a good tip (not the waiter’s fault) and left. The politically correct mode of thought is: don’t complain, fix. So I will let my money will do the talking; I will not dine there again and advise people to stay away. With the internet, everyone’s a restaurant critic, so I’ll write my review.
Would the world be too unpleasant if we occasionally, gently told people what we really thought?
Whatever happened to the dinner party where you belted back a few scotches, yelled at each other — about Al Queda, Gaza or Boko Haram, and then kissed everyone and went home. That’s called discourse, people.
Political correctness has killed conversation. We’re all afraid of speaking our mind, of expressing ourselves for fear of…what?
One problem is our lack of language skills and tact. The Brits do it superbly. They can carry on a lively discourse of opposing sides and turn it into a stimulating conversation instead of an insulting shouting match.
I have no answers my friends — I’m just posing the questions.
I feel the invisibility cloak of age descending over me and I don’t like it. To this end, I am doing some interesting reading on ageism and the issue of older people being invisible in society. I will share with you in due course.
Maybe this is the way it is, being older. We’ve fought our battles, life won’t change, people won’t change, so we smile and continue on our way. Some little old lady who will just “take it” so as not to be viewed unkindly.
Talk to me, my friends. The comment box is waiting for you.