“Good job!” = “Old!”

Four years ago I wrote about how I was officially old because young women now smile at me when I’m running on the trail. They can tell I’m too old to be a predator. Today, as I was finishing my run (only five+ miles, but short of the usual 6) when I passed a couple in their 60s, I estimate. They made room for me on the trail, so I said thank you as I passed. The man replied, “Sure thing.” Then he took a good look at me and added enthusiastically, “Good job!”

There are only two categories of people who are praised that way for accomplishing an ordinary activity: young children (I’m including those with the mental capacity of young children), and old people. In particular, I refer to old people who are perceived to be feeble of body or mind. Admittedly, I am looking more and more feeble at 76, but I’m actually pretty healthy. My “running” is a euphemism these days. It’s more of a trudge and often interspersed with some walking, but, hey, it’s five or six miles. At the time I passed them, it was downhill and I was actually moving along pretty well. Still, my running days are numbered; I can tell from my joints. So I don’t blame the young whippersnapper (with gray hair) for his well-intentioned words, but it was a bit dispiriting to be tagged with that unspoken sobriquet: Old man.

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