I am on a fifty-five day segment of a one hundred and eleven day geriatric world cruise. That is not the official title – the cruise line just calls it a ‘world cruise.’ But if you think about who can afford the time and money to be on vacation for that length of time, you can see why the average age of the cruisers is high enough to make me, at 68 years old, one of the youngsters.
Ever since I saw the Sound of Music and heard, “you need someone, older and wiser, telling you what to do,” I have had it in my mind that people get smarter as they age. Now that I am older, I know that this is not always true. Sometimes people just age without growing up.
Here’s a story from a Port of Call in Australia. There were two tour buses full of older folks preparing to return to the ship from a shore excursion. One of the buses would not start. A replacement bus was called for. In the meantime, a group of passengers who were supposed to travel on the disabled bus boarded the other bus to return to the ship immediately. It was explained to them that their bus was broken, another bus was on the way, and they had to depart the bus that they had just boarded. The hijackers refused to leave. Anarchy ensued. Ultimately some of the passengers whose bus was not broken had to wait for the replacement bus instead.
The entitled folks wanted things their own way and prevailed because they were stubborn and unreasonable. They had a sense of entitlement which probably had something to do with their bank accounts. Which brings me to law firms, as most things do. Some of them work on the premise that the older folks are necessarily wiser, presumably an idea which was developed by them to justify holding onto things such as control, client credits, and compensation.
People are funny that way. Once we have something, we come to believe that we have a special right to continue to have it.
There is another side to this, which has to do with the oft cited ‘impatience of youth.’ This would be the tendency of some youngsters to discount the value of the experience of those who came before them. I knew one young partner who, once he finally obtained his long sought after position of power in his law firm, sought to impose a ‘new’ direction which had been tried before, and failed before. When the older partners tried to explain this to him, he arrogantly announced that he was not open to hearing from the more senior partners about why his grandiose plan would not work. He would do it better than they had and it would work this time. He had arrived in a place of power and would not relinquish it. (It failed again.)
I am so very tired of this nonsense – happy to be retired and living among some true grown-ups in my little community back home.