I have found older age to be a series of blessings. I’m well aware that I am lucky in that regard, and that a combination of good health (so far), sensible savings and the right attitude have contributed to my sense of well-being.
One thing, however, is interfering with my enjoyment. It may have nothing to do with my being an older person, but it couldn’t have happened when I was younger. I refer to the idea I had held all my life that once money was no longer the driving force in my behaviour, life would become easier.
Perhaps a word of explanation is in order. All through my working life, I saved as much as I could towards my retirement. I went without in those days, so that I could have whatever I wanted in these days. I thought — fool that I am — that if you had the money, you could do whatever you could afford. That idea was entirely wrong, and I am not a little disappointed to find that out.
I could cite a thousand examples, but I’ll limit myself to a few, so that you can see what I’m talking about and, perhaps, identify with it.
I’m pursuing a small legal matter that requires the use of solicitors. I have rarely if ever used legal people, but I had thought that my being the client would entitle me to dictate the course of action. Not so. The engagement letter I received from a highly recommended firm of solicitors went to great lengths to spell out my obligations as the client.
I have no obligations as the client, of course, other than to tell the truth and pay the bills. He who pays the piper calls the tune, as the saying has it. Not with this firm of so-called professionals, however. I’ll find another firm.
My gutters need to be cleaned. Where once I might not have bothered, given that I was renting, I am now a homeowner and care about such things. I offered to pay a company that cleans gutters. They agreed to do it, but haven’t. This irks me: I will gladly pay for their services, but they won’t provide them.
And, of course, I’ve mentioned ad infinitum the way that so many retail establishments regard their customers as vermin and treat them accordingly.
Having money, I have discovered, puts you in the same position as not having money. Whatever you want done, can’t be done. Maybe this is an English problem. Maybe English solicitors, handymen and retail assistants are unique in their undisguised disdain for those who provide their bread and butter.
As a semi-somewhat-retired person, I have the luxury of time and can search out alternatives to the providers of rude, poor or non-existent service. As the customer, my only recourse is to take my business elsewhere, and this I do with regularity. Most people, I suppose, just accept whatever is hurled at them. I say: don’t do that. I say: stand up for your rights as the buyer or the initiator of transactions for goods or services.
I also say: this is a losing battle, because it seems that very few of us care any more about manners, or understanding the dynamics of the customer-seller relationship.