If you ask Jerry Seinfeld about Florida and Old people, he would tell you, “They Drive Slow and they sit low. The State flag of Florida should be a hat, a steering wheel, and some knuckles on it.” And for the most part, I couldn’t agree with him more. A great deal of my time spent in Florida thus far has been sitting behind drivers far older than their Oldsmobile’s. When the light turns green they advance with utmost caution. When they back out of the driveway they don’t look back. And on the freeway, they still have the left turn signal on from when they left the house that morning. One would think that with such a short amount of time to live, they would want to get places a bit quicker. Unfortunately, for the majority, that’s not the case.
Today was a good day though. My friend and I decided to rent a surfboard and we encountered minimal old folk resistance along the way. At the rental shop, I worked out a deal for a board with the owner, 15$ for 4 hours. I was stoked about the price and eager to hit the waves. It had been almost 3 years since I last went surfing, so I was a bit worried that I might have lost the feel. However, once I got out there, my confidence quickly returned.
Sitting up on the board, about a hundred meters out from the shore, I admired the scenery. It was like a postcard, glassy waves, the beautiful white sand of New Smyrna beach and a clear and cloudless sky. I felt as serene and at peace as the waves around me. I slowly turned my gaze out towards the sea and that’s when I saw it.
It was the perfect wave and it was just for me. Full of adrenaline, I swiftly turned the board away from the wave. I centered my body, and fervently began to paddle. The timing was perfect! I sprang up like a cobra while rapidly descending the face of the wave. For a split second I nearly lost my balance and envisioned a pitiful face plant into the foamy sea. I quickly shook the thought from my head though, regained my momentum and balance, and banked left, grinning from ear to ear as I effortlessly evaded the crashing wave behind me. It is a memory that I surely won’t be able to shake until the next time I go surfing.
In any case, back to the old people, the theme of this post. My friend and I decided to hit the pool to get the salt water off and relax a bit. On the way there, we encountered some fairly formidable resistance. An old man struck up a conversation with us, the likes of which threatened to detain us until sunset. “O crap” I thought to myself. All my hopes and dreams of relaxing poolside had vanished. He began his spiel the way most old folks begin it. He asked how old we were and about what we were doing with our lives.
But then, out of the blue, the conversation took an intriguing new direction. He began to recount his experience as an infantry officer in World War 2. He told us of D-day and the landing at Utah beach. Then, as if he were describing a scene from a movie, he explained how a miniature bible, placed in his left chest pocket, saved his life from a piece of shrapnel emanating from a nearby German rocket. I was completely transfixed and in awe of his experience and him. I later asked him, “If you could give one piece of advice about life what would it be?” He responded, “Chose a goal and stick to it. Really eyeball it.” Wise words from a wise and accomplished veteran.
Moral of the story, old people can be awful drivers. But once they get out of their cars and you get a chance to talk to them, you may be surprised by the knowledge and wisdom that they can offer. So, next time you’re on the road in a high-density old folk area, think twice before you start honking discriminately. After all they’ve been through, it’s the least they deserve.