Tuesdays at McDonalds

This morning I decided to take my daughter to our local McDonalds to have a “nutritious” breakfast (They wanted $1.92 for a teeny bag of sliced apples. Robbery, I tell ya.).  They have a pretty neat play area and a free wifi connection so it makes us both happy. This is the first time we have come on a weekday.

I knew that coming on a Tuesday at 8 o’clock in the morning would prove to have a dearth of children for my daughter to play with. That’s okay. She’s an only child and really does like to play by herself. Plus, there are these little touch to play video games that she loves to entertain herself with. She just likes to hang out and run around. This play is WAY more fun than our house.

Let me tell you, I wasn’t prepared for what I saw when I got there. It is winter and we live in an area where the winter visitors proliferate, partaking in the enjoyable 70 degree weather. Who wouldn’t want to be able to wear shorts in December? I know that I enjoy it. It is one of the rewards for surviving the stifling heat during the summer. But I digress.

As we entered the playground area, it was full of people. Real people with white hair and magnificent stories. I had stumbled upon the morning meeting place for a local trailer park. Apparently Tuesday morning is free Senior coffee day. The play room was filled. Both of the touch to play games were taken up by seniors playing them. It looked exactly like they were at the casino, playing video poker. The intensity was tangible. I kept on expecting tokens to come pouring out.

When I was younger, I was freaked out by older people. To me they were a signal of impending death and the end of it all. I don’t know where I got that notion. Probably because my grandmother was ancient and the youngest in her family. It seemed as if everyone around her was dying. Luckily, I’ve outgrown that and I’ve come to realize exactly how wonderful so many of them are.

Their stories amaze me. This group has seen so much in their lives. When they were born, there was no Internet. Gasp. Choke. Sob. I don’t know how they managed! They’ve seen beta tapes, vhs tapes, laser discs. 8-tracks. 8-tracks! I remember listening to the audio version of Star Wars on the 8-track player on our van sized stereo. Darth Vader’s voice clicking in the middle as the tracks changed. I used to know exactly where the clicks were.

As my daughter was playing and I was attempting to blog, I was listening to some of the conversations that they were having. They were telling somewhat dirty jokes (Oh.Em.Gee.) and talking about things that my friends and I would talk about. It made me sort of wish that I could come every Tuesday morning to get to know them. Maybe they could teach me a lesson about life. Maybe they could sneak me a free coffee. I bet some of them would be willing.

One thing I figured out though… there is more life experience in that place on Tuesday mornings than possibly anywhere else in good ol’ AJ.

2 thoughts on “Tuesdays at McDonalds

  1. As you could probably tell from some of the topics I’ve blogged about, I really like older people. For exactly the reasons you mention, but for so many more.

    One of the most interesting things to me is the assumption that being elderly automatically means one is relaxed and somehow content with his or her life. Those stories exist, but some older people are really quite bitter. And still hungry for experiences. Did I mention angry?

    Sounds like your experience was anything but that. Why not try to make it at least one more Tuesday & then take it from there?

  2. I wish I could make it a habit to visit the McDonald’s on Tuesdays for senior free coffee morning. For one thing, it would mean that I didn’t have to BE at work at 6:45 in the morning. I like the idea of going again. Maybe I’ll do it next school break. Most of the “snowbirds” (as we so affectionately call them) should still be in town.

    Every year when we have an override vote to get more funding for our school district, I get to see the bitter, angry older people. They come out in full force, complaining about how kids these days are so bad and teachers are just babysitters, etc. We never get anything passed. As a result, we have had to cut so much money that I am forced to buy paper and toner for my classroom. It gives me great sad.

    My initial trepidation about hanging out with the elderly stems from spending time with my Grandmother’s family. They were all OLD OLD OLD (especially in my teenage eyes) and reveled in their misery. They would sit in large groups and complain about how horrible things were everywhere. They’d list their illnesses and the surgeries/procedures/medicines that they were on to keep up their miserable existences.

    Fortunately, though, the majority of my experiences with seniors have been very positive since I became an adult. Some are disillusioned, but I also know some young people who are even more so. I’ve come to realize that, even though some are cranky, they still have a totally different perspective than I do. With perspective comes a sort of wisdom. I listen.

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