Sliced Thin

It’s lunchtime and I’m hungry. Sadly, other than the two dozen cans of emergency tuna I keep around in the event of Armageddon, my cupboard’s bare. Since I’m sick of tuna salad sandwiches, I decide to go the supermarket and buy food with a little more variety.

With my stomach grumbling, I arrive at the grocery store. After I find a cart with the proper non-squeak wheel alignment, I make a beeline for the deli counter. Experience has taught me to always hit the deli first. Why? Because after the checkout line, the deli counter is the most time consuming part of any shopping trip. The line for luncheon meat is usually populated by legions of cantankerous old people who think advanced age excuses them from getting a ticket and waiting their turn like everybody else. In addition to cutting in line, Methuselahish customers regard their cold cuts with an almost religious seriousness, causing interminable delays as they demand half a pound of free samples and then berate the overworked counterperson for not slicing their orders of compressed mystery meat thin enough. Whereas some people are connoisseurs of wine, cheese, or twenty-five year old scotch, you can usually count on the average New Jersyite over the age of seventy-two to be an authority on olive loaf.

If I sound rather bitter I have good reason to be. When I graduated from college in 1990 the country was in the grip of a recession. Unable to find work in my field and my graduation money depleted, I was forced to take a job at a local deli. The job, quite frankly, sucked ass. My coworkers were a bunch of psychologically maladjusted polysubstance abusers, the boss was a jerk, and, because I was the new guy, I had to come in early every morning and make the tubs of coleslaw, potato salad, and tapioca pudding we put out fresh every day. As I was slaving in this saturated fat carbohydrate hell, I promised myself that, when I got a real job, I’d never work in the food industry again. Funny how life doesn’t do what you want, huh?

It was the elderly customers, however, who drove me up the wall. Clutching their sheafs of coupons and always anxious about money, they’d yell at me whenever I sliced one ounce over the amount they ordered and then demand to eat it for free. Because I was sick of their shit, I became quite adept slicing off the exact amount of meat and cheese a customer ordered. But sometimes accidents happen. Once, when I was cutting bologna for an old man who kept loudly insisting I wasn’t slicing it thin enough, my hand slipped and the rotating blade of the deli slicer shaved off half a millimeter of my lower right thumb joint, Let me tell you, that’s a sound you don’t forget,

As I was bleeding like a stuck pig all over the old man’s cold cuts you’d think he’d ask me if I was okay or offer to help me. He did nothing of the sort. Instead he yelled, “I’m not gonna eat that!” and then screamed at the store manager to get someone else to fill his order. I ended going to the ER, lost a day’s pay, and got a tetanus shot to boot. After several months of dealing with crabby deli oldsters I was ready to put every old geezer I encountered on an iceberg and float them out to sea. Since verbalizing such ageist genocidal thoughts can get you into hot water, however, I decided to keep my dark imaginings to myself.

Luckily, the deli at the supermarket I patronize today has a computerized ordering system. If the line is too long you can input your order using the touch screen and them do the rest of your grocery shopping while the counter people slice your order. The system even pages you on the overhead speaker when your order’s ready. It saves time and, best of all, because it’s a new fangled computer thingamabob, old people shun it like its a Medicare copay.

Today, however, is my lucky day. There’s no one in line at the deli and the three counter people on duty all work to fill my order. I’m so happy that I start a conversation with the woman slicing my half pound of Swiss cheese.

“This has got to be the fastest I’ve ever gotten in and out of the deli in my life,” I say. “Where are all the customers?”

“It’s only one o’clock,” the counter lady, an older, thin, chain-smoking looking woman, replies. “We get busy around three.”

“That’s when the old people come, huh?”

The woman smiles. “Yep, my favorites.”

“I worked in a deli once,” I reply. “They always drove me batty.”

“If I hear another person ask me to ‘slice it thin’ one more time,” the counter lady replies, “I’ll lose my mind.”

“Somethings never change. Do they?’


“Has the new computer system made life easier for you?” I ask.

“Are you kidding?” the counter lady replies. “It’s made life worse.”

“Really?” I say, surprised. “How?”

“When we get an order from the computer it’s exactly like you took a number and waited in line,” the counter lady explains. “Only you aren’t waiting in line, you’re doing the rest of your shopping. The old people don’t understand that. They get angry that they have to wait while we fill orders for people who used the computer system.”

“Senior citizens aren’t usually a technologically friendly group.”

“You said it mister,” the counter lady says, smiling ruefully. “The seniors say we have to take care of the’“real people’ in line first.”

“Still trying to cut in line,” I say.

“Yep,” the counter lady says. “I’m getting on in years myself. But I don’t use my age to jump int the front of the line.”

“That’s because you’re young at heart,” I say.

“Thank you, sir,” the counter lady says, handing me my cheese. “That’s sweet. You have a nice day now.”

“Merry Christmas.”

“You too, sir.”

I depart the deli area and finish my grocery shopping. My empty stomach is now making loud noises. I’m looking forward to enjoying a nice sandwich and an ice cold beer when I get home. When I get to the checkout area, however, my heart drops. There’s only one register open and several elderly people with shopping carts brimming with stuff are already waiting in line.

Almost twenty years have past since I’ve worked at the deli. I’m forty years old, my parent’s are senior citizens, and I like to think that I’ve evolved into a kinder, patient, and gentler person. Who am I kidding? Because the teenager manning the register is inexperienced, the line moves at a glacial pace while he scans coupons and ineptly explains to the geriatric customers scrutinizing each and every item on their receipts that no, they haven’t been ripped off and all their coupons have been counted.

As my stomach starts making squealing nosies I try taking my sixth grade nun’s advice and offer my suffering “up to God.” I also think about asking God to take out the seniors ahead of me so I can get home and make myself a sandwich Since those prejudiced sentiments might piss off an entity who’s older that time itself, however, I decide against beseeching the Almighty to smite the old timers and silently stew in my low blood sugar rage.

After what seems like a millennium, I get out of the store, throw my groceries in my car, and head for home. In addition to being famished I also have to take a wicked piss. As I’m driving down the street, a little old lady driving an automotive gunboat made in the early 1970’s sails though a stop sign and swings in front of me. As I brake to avoid hitting her, I can hear my groceries being food processed by inertia in the trunk of my car. I wonder if the eggs survived. When I release my tight grip on the steering wheel I notice the small scar the deli slicer put on my right thumb eighteen years ago.

Maybe karma’s punishing me for that whole putting old people on icebergs thing.

156 thoughts on “Sliced Thin”

  1. Bec says:

    Nice to hear more about your former deli dramas

  2. Customer says:

    It is not their fault that they are old. It IS their fault that they are jerks.

  3. jay says:

    Well said. Maybe we’re all punished in that way.

  4. gabrielle says:

    Instead of the nun, it was my Gran who told me what to do about enduring pain. Her exact quote,” Offer it up for the holy souls in Purgatory.”

    I use that same quote to my kids today.

    Love your writing.

  5. James Frazer says:

    Well done, certainly one of your best articles to date.

  6. Patricia says:

    I’m all for the idea of floating all old people out into the Atlantic. It’s like a person’s normal meanness range just gets compacted and denser the older you are.

  7. CJ says:

    I must be getting old! I told a co-worker to “offer it up” just yesterday!

  8. From The Edge of America says:

    For one year in 1980 and 1981 I lived in Ft. Myers, Florida, a retirement haven at the time, and it still is. On a number of occasions (at least 6 times)while standing in the checkout line of my neighborhood grocery store, waiting my turn, I had elderly persons (of both genders)hit me from behind with their grocery carts, apparently in their impatient belief that hitting me would make the line move faster. They would never offer me an apology, either.

    Another thing that vexed me in Florida is that most motels and restaurants and other businesses offered significant discounts to seniors. As a group, since they worked for most of their lives and had paid off their mortgages, they have accumulated the most assets of any other age group. So there I was I, 29 years old, with little money, subsidizing seniors who had the most money. When a restaurant gave seniors a 10% discount, I was likely paying at least 10% more to make up for it, and I probably was paying more than 10% because it seemed like there were always more seniors than other age groups at those restaurants. On the plus side, although the traffic was terrible during the daylight hours, after dusk the streets were almost entirely empty.

  9. LafinJack says:

    A grocery store so high tech they have a deli ordering system, but no self-serve checkout line? The octogenarian set avoid those like mad, too.

  10. Big Rooster says:

    I understand that you are now a writer for a living but,stop making stories up. I like you and I want to hear about your success. Please don’t make me regret the times I have spent reading your blog. If nothing happened to you that day then don’t write anything. Please don’t be a sellout.

  11. rivrpath says:

    I wonder how you will feel when you are the one who is older. Have a little compassion and a lot less sterotyping.

  12. John says:

    Big Rooster : you are an idiot.

  13. John says:

    Big Rooster – I assume that you’re psychic, so can tell that this story was made up?

  14. Parochial school grad says:

    My favorite Catholic tenet:

    Don’t waste perfectly good suffering when there are sinners who could benefit!

  15. Ethel Powers says:

    That was a refreshing bit to read! I was referred to your blog by Mary Cuevas of and she was right. I love your writing.

  16. lester says:

    no icebergs in florida. maybe abandoned oil rigs?

  17. marinebrat says:


  18. Shanna says:

    Love you Steve (the writer formally known as waiter!)

  19. Terri says:

    Loved the comment about Ft. Meyers, but if Sarasota is where your parent go to retire, then Venice is where your Grandparents go when the kids move down. Love, From Venice (and Publix is fine IF you can go before noon or before closing, which is 8PM.) Workings stiffs be damned. Pray for me even though I’m atheist.

  20. Fe says:

    When I worked in the fabric store, the majority of my customers were old folks and they are the same way at the cutting counter as they are at the deli counter. Is it straight? they screech. It has to be straight! I’m not paying for any extra, so only cut what I tell you! Don’t cut it long so you can charge me extra! I’m not paying for those two inches, but you can give them to me for free!

    I love old people, but there were days I was tempted to stake them out on the hot asphalt parking lot and let them fry under the July sun. We don’t have many icebergs in Texas. 🙂

  21. Mayla says:

    Thanks for the new entry Steve.

    I work in a grocery store and every Tuesday we have a few dozen seniors that come in from a local retirement center. The people range from very nice to bitter. We call them the ‘White Cart’ folks.

    Thankfully, I have a barrier between myself and the isle they drive their carts in. Doesn’t hold true to the isle behind me, but that I can complain about.

    We (the cashiers) are required to load the white carts for the customers. This is an interesting problem when these folks don’t use the cart to shop in.

    I get a ‘lady’ every week that simply isn’t able to understand that no, I can’t change the size of your cart to hold all of your stuff you’ve once again purchased. ‘You’re wasting space!’ … No, I don’t feel like folding your carton of eggs just to fill up some air.

    Another trick they do is leave the regular shopping cart at the end of the lane. I’m not saying just wandering off; this is walking around it and forcing the next customer to move it.

    This is the reason I’ll never get the power of telekinesis; I’ll only use it for evil. That cart would find the heel of the person leaving it behind, every time.

  22. Toni Bell says:

    This is so true and yet so funny. Ironically, I was just at the store doing the same thing, being the only customer at the Deli..and someone passed me by and said to me, ” it is so nice that people are so pleasant today” To recap-In NH we just got our power back after 4 days of an ice does take a tragedy of sorts for people to be real with each other, young or old. The old, I say, have limited things to do, so if they are crabby, I say, that’s all they got, I’ll let them have it.

  23. ella says:

    the whole mindset of entitlement drives me mad. and the seniors don’t own the market on it either – it’s an equal opportunity offense!

  24. Daria says:

    I remember the horrors of working behind a food counter – a bakery in a supermarket. My first job. Ugh. But actually, I liked the old people. Back in Eastern Long Island, they seemed to mellow out in their old age.

    However, there was one time I ate at a restaurant in Fla with my grandparents. It was called The Flaming Pit, but we called it The Flaming Walker, or The Restaurant for Very Very Old People. The average age of patrons was about 98 and over. It looked like a re-call center for wheelchairs, canes, you name it. It was a buffet and MAN could these farts move. No physical impairment seemed to exist when you could help yourself to an abundance of entrees. Seniors were snatching tongs out of each others hands, beating other patrons with their canes and several scooters rolled right over my foot to beat me to the crab legs. Don’t forget the obligatory hacking, coughing and sneezing right in between the sneeze guard and the counter. I think some of them were gagging over the mac-n-cheese just to claim it as their own. The foyer of the restaurant consisted of eager oldies fighting over who was next for a table and all waving 2-for-1 coupons at the hostess. It looked like Jeriatric Wall Street. Of course it was insanely loud; every one was wearing hearing aids and shouting to one another.

    For the most part I am patient and respectful towards old folk and in turn we get along, but that nutty restaurant is my primest example of Elders Behaving Badly.

  25. Chris says:

    I live in a small town in Australia and have a similar deli ‘problem’ in my supermarket. I work five days a week and often do my shopping on Saturday morning, the oldies have all week to do their shopping so why the %^#%*! hell do they wait until Saturday.
    Hey isn’t it great to know people are the same whereever you go.

  26. Matt says:

    ON line. ON line. Drives me nuts.

    Sorry. For every old person jumping in your way is an East Coaster saying ON line (that’s for internet) when they mean IN line (that’s for queuing). Grr.

  27. Me says:

    I have never understood how it is that older people seemed to have not learned patience in their lives. In fact, it seems to be the “only” thing they don’t know, lol. And I, too, have been hit in the back with the old cart trick…I’m not too shy to turn around and tell ’em to cut it out, tho (to which they feign ignorance/innocence). I am making it a point to notice how rude and demanding *some* older people seem to get and MAKE SURE that I don’t become that when I get there! 🙂

  28. craig says:

    nicely written, waiter. i’ve followed your adventures since the beginning, but then life got me busy and i haven’t read your site since ~2006. right this afternoon though i’ve been sitting in the sunshine with my new puppy, reading your book! memories 🙂

    all the best, mate. i’ll have to have a catch-up on your archives!
    craig (melbourne, australia)

  29. Jeff Moulton says:

    When they bump you from behind, just casually mention “I hope I can get all these coupons figured out, it always takes me so long to do this.”

    Or better yet, when the person in front of you moves, don’t move right away. Give it a minute…. In fact, don’t move until you have to protect your spot in line. Just make sure you have one foot on it’s toes and behind the other one, to catch the cart before it nails your achilles.

  30. Jess G. says:

    LOL as much on the comments as the blog post! Your post reminded me of one of Harvey Pekar’s thought balloons in his American Splendor comic books that starts “LISSEN HEAH GOILY I TALK TO DE MENEDGEH AND I BOUGHT HEF A DIS 2-FOR-1 SPECIAL YESTIDDY AND I GOT DE UDDA HEF TODAY SO I GET DE SPECIAL PRICE JUST LIKE 2-FOR-1 YOU KEN ESK HIM…” etc. Keep up the posting.

  31. Ol Geezer says:

    One day you’ll be “old” Waiter–who you gonna hate on then? The overweight? Smokers? [There’s few group(s) left to hate on that’s PC 🙂 lol

    Thanks for furthering the societal “go away and die” attitude towards older folks 😉

    -Sign me 51 and in better shape than most 30 year olds

  32. Waiter says:

    When I’m old I’ll start bitching about young people. That seem to be nature’s way. 🙂

  33. Bex says:

    Use the self check out line next time!! I betcha old people don’t know or care to use the scanner thing. Or bag their own groceries.

  34. Elly says:

    I feel like I’ve read this story before, Waiter! Even if it isn’t the exact same wording, I know you have complained about the deli counter habits of the elderly before. However, the last time there was more introspective soul searching.

  35. Rusty says:

    Nice post, Wait.

  36. Dr. Electro says:

    I’m retired. Where’s my iceberg? Did you slice it thin? I demand my discount. Quit whining about yourself you’re too young to know what real pain is wait until you get arthritis and can’t get up without sounding like a human rice krispie and your dentures won’t stay in and you get gas so bad you fart yourself completely out of the bed and break your hip on the floor. That’ll larn ya!

    Sometimes us old farts have serious issues with youngsters, too. Like the little tarted-up tweenie girls who think they are entitled to jump in line right in front of my wife just because she’s in a wheelchair and they consider her too frail to put up a fight. Like the kids in teh deli who roll their eyes completely back into their skulls just because I’m moving in their general direction. Then, if I actually do approach them it’s usually, “Whattaya want old timer and be quick about it.” I understand the obverse of the coin quite well haveing observed old timers all my life.

    So, now that I’m disabled and unable to work I still have all my faculties and try really hard to be pleasant to the poor bastards who have to work in a deli for their second or third job just so they can pay the mortgage. My wife looks younger than I but is also a very sweet-natured old lady.

    Do I take offense at the short shrift you have given the people whose generation has helped shape our generation. Do I agree with you that all of us old farts should be off the street when you “real people” want it all to yourselves? Or do I just blow the whole issue off and go back to sleep? Time will tell.

  37. Not young, not old says:

    Dr. Electro, well put!!

  38. S. Woody White says:

    I’m a cashier in a grocery store. Well, I was, but now my time is spent mostly upstairs, working on the bookkeeping, with one or two days a week at the register.

    At the store where I work, if there are lines forming at the registers management has no qualms calling other staff over to open up a new lane. There are some days when I get called down four times. It plays hell with the bookkeeping, but the customers are happier with the policy.

    And I’ve found that the old axiom “It doesn’t cost a penny to be nice” pays off. While there are a few customers who are nasty, most of them (including most of the retirees) are thrilled to get in my line, because I treat them with kindness and friendliness. When my partner and I are out and about in town, it’s not uncommon for someone to call out, wave, and wish me a good day. “Who was that?” Bruce will ask. “A customer,” I reply with a smile, and he’ll smile, too.

  39. palpauly says:

    What ever happen to respecting our elders?

    Good for you Dr. Electro!

    If you travel the world, you will notice it is only new countries like us that disrespects the elderly.

    Old world countries like Italy, France, Japan, China etc. tolerate their seniors because they understand the fact that we will all be old & in need from the young one day. They are wise enough to instill that into their cultures.

    Us being a new country is all about getting a head at all cost even if it means stepping on the previous generation. Then again that is how we saw them treat their elders right?

    Stop the cycle

    Good post waiter, the karma ending is dead on

  40. Sparrow says:

    A good read as always. You might want to correct this wee typo though: “my parent’s are senior citizens”

  41. Jackie says:

    As always, a great post. Thanks for that advice on when to use the deli. Sometimes in desperation I will just buy packaged cheese and cold cuts to avoid the old people over at the deli counter. I have got to try that computerized way, though. I saw it for the first time the other day.

  42. Holly says:

    Young or old or even 40ish….in order to get respect you have to EARN it…

    I don’t care if your a tweeny bopper or on your third walker, if you act in a boarish, self-entitled, piggish way or if you’re just an all-around arsehole, you should be treated accordingly.

    I’ll be turning 40 next week!!! (1968 was a GREAT year, wasn’t it?) I’m already feeling the effects of issues that I thought were reserved for “old people”…decreasing estrogen levels??? Don’t get me started (and don’t give me a gun!!)


    “Methuselahish” that’s pretty funny!

  43. Liddle-Oldman says:

    You forgot the part where they want to discuss each and every coupon. And argue about the ones that are out of date. And count out their change one — coin — at — a — time.

    Granted, buying head cheese is probably the only thing they’re going to do that day, and sampling every loaf in the deli case and being cantankerous and obstreperous extends the experience, and though I’m not old I can smell it from here when the wind is right, and I have some sympathy — but the rest of us are not ablative material; we don’t exist to be expended by the harshness of their custom.

    As for putting old people on icebergs — we often said that my father-in-law was only saved by the scarcity of good useable icebergs in Boston Harbor.

  44. rsrott says:

    my first job was in a grocery store as a cashier. The elderly customers (some, not all) were the worst. Especially if they thought the price of an item was scanned wrong. Admittedly, errors did occur and the proper procedure was to send a co-worker to verify the price and then correct the issue. On one very very busy afternoon, I had an elderly woman SCREAMING at me over several wrong priced items. My line was backing up and every item she challenged was in fact correctly priced. After I finally finished her order and had her items bagged and ready to go, she started screaming at me again because I charged her the wrong amount on her can of peaches. She demanded to see a manager. I looked at her receipt and asked what the correct price was. It was 1 flippin’ penny. I was so furious at her I made a point of pulling out my purse from under the register and digging in my wallet for a penny. I gave it to her and told her to have a nice day and went on to help the next customer. She still wouldn’t leave, and kept yelling about “it’s the principal, I want to see a manager”. I made her wait till the line died down (at least 20 minutes) before calling one…

  45. mary cuevas says:

    hi waiter!!!
    love this post. i am guessing you have a trader joe’s in new jersey? at the local TJ’s here on Pacific Coast Highway, we have the old folks from the senior retirement home, “leisure world” walking slowly through the narrow aisles.

    i am very patient with them, but i have a friend who can’t stand it. but these seniors aren’t demanding thinly sliced meat, they are usually so pleased with the TJ prices, that they are smiling and sharing the price with their mate or “new” friend they have met at leisure world.

    anyway, excellent post. and i do find on days i am teaching that i tell my students this, “when i was in the 4th grade we NEVER EVER disrespected our teachers. we NEVER EVER talked back to them. because we feared our parent wrath.”

    sadly, some of these kids respond with, “but my dad is in jail.” or “my mom doesn’t care.” and so on. the times they are a changin….and i am getting old.:)


  46. Amit says:

    Steve, talking about Karma, I need you help to increase your book sales by one. Do you or anyone posting know if your book is available in Singapore. I have been reading your blog for 2 1/2 years now and still have not purchased your book. Sorry 🙁

    Not being able to get a response from the local bookstores.

    Best wishes to you and your family for Christmas and the new year.

    (Am a bit unsure of Amazon and the credit card over the internet thing)

  47. Shannon says:

    Maybe it’s me, and maybe it’s not – I normally have nothing but praise for your posts, but today your entry just seems whiny and cynical.

  48. meglena says:

    I’m glad you’re posting again, Waiter. Congratulations on all the interviews and book signings.

    I enjoy your blog because I like your style of writing, sense of humour, perception and of course the image of the cool, sardonic, romantic, tough, kind etc. complex Waiter, but this post seemed to me a little bitter and not like you (I know that’s a stupid and presumptuous thing to say, but I hope you know what I mean). It is funny though.
    I know I myself get extremely frustrated with older people in stores and frequently entertain not very nice thoughts about them, but you are supposed to be kinder and more understanding, at least that is what I expect of you, after reading you blogg for years.
    I hope its just the hunger and pre-holiday stress.

  49. Cindy says:

    Ahh, waiter – I understand. Next week I will be heading for Sun City, AZ, aka, land of the exceptionally elderly people.

    I will no doubt spend most of the week trying to offset the fact that she is a ridiculously demanding woman with an entitlement mentality that won’t quit, in hopes that people will continue to do business with her for the next year.

  50. Lani says:

    Great entry Waiter but I am kinda on the fence about some of this. I nodded my head agreed about the old people. But I have also been in the deli when the tweeny bopper rolls her eyes when she sees me (the 40 something) coming. Maybe I’m old people to her too. She’s usually on her cell phone talking and smacking her gum too busy to pay attention to my order.

    And you yourself have complained about entitle young yuppies who made your life miserable.

    So it’s not older people who are jerks. Its the entitled crowd. Same as always. Young, old or in the middle. Entitlement the equal opportuntity offender.

  51. Lani says:

    p.s. How did the book signing go? Did you have bonding time with your dad? Did we(your fans) overwhelm you? Just wondering

  52. Dave says:

    It’s partly about feeling entitled; there’s probably a story or two in comparing the sense of entitlement exhibited by the oldsters and that of the yuppies that frequented the Bistro.

    Maybe once the self-important yuppies turn into cranky oldsters they’ll implode into some sort of Black Hole of Entitlement, out of which nothing can escape except occasional whining about how they’re not being treated the way they think they should!

  53. Wilhelm says:

    Getting old had not made these people act that way. They’ve always been like that — they were the same assholes when they were young, it’s just that there’s a lot more of them around these days.

  54. Me says:

    To those of you saying ” be more patient” etc.,”you’ll be there someday” yadda yadda, there is no excuse for rudeness and I won’t give you a free pass for being that way. Period. 2 year olds can get away with it, not 80 year olds. They have lived long enough to know better. And the ones that are that rude, are usually that rude bc people have been letting them get away with it their whole lives. As someone else said, respect is earned.

  55. Sami-Ann says:

    haha I loved your recollection of your sixth grade nun! It made me laugh because that’s EXACTLY what my one grandmother always used to say. Even now after she’s gone whenever someone in the family is having a bad day we remind them to “do like Noreen and ‘Offer it up!'”

    Having had that same grandmother live with us for 2 1/2 years literally up until the moment of her death, it taught me a lot about not only what it means to love, but instilled an utmost unshakable respect for the elderly. You have to think about their generation: Some of these people left are still from the WWII generation and even the depression (like my grandmother) who had their asses kicked to the max yet bounced back and built this country back up from shambles. Some of these people fought in Korea, in Vietnam, and endured the Civil Rights Movement. These are people who saw and went through more shit than hopefully ours or future generations ever will. So while I’m not justifying any person being rude to another be they young or older than the hills, as younger folks, we have to stop, breathe, and remember that most of these people have MORE than earned their right to be crotchety. But seriously, the guy who got pissed when you sliced your thumb…. there really is NO excuse for that, no matter what.

  56. Cat says:

    I worked in a pharmacy once. It’s like the deli, but with sick old people who don’t understand their insurance/Medicare policy. I’ll take an iceberg on the open sea any day.

  57. Natalie says:

    What’s wrong with counting coupons and using their coins?

    Aren’t they entitled to do so?

    Whoever fusses over this is an asshole.

  58. Persephone says:

    For the record, I’m 50 years old. I’ve been getting mail from AARP for two years now. For the first time in my life, the (future) President of the United States is younger than me. So, I’m feeling a little old.

    Do I take it out on other people? No. Do I bitch and whine and complain about life? No. Why? Because it’s not anyone else’s fault or responsibility that I’m getting old. I’m getting old because I managed to survive a couple of car accidents, and a rattlesnake attack, and being thrown off horses, among other near-fatal situations. We also tend, in my family, to live well into our 90s.

    I have paid into Social Security to support the people who went before me, so I demand that Social Security be around to supplement my retirement when I need it. I also expect Medicare to be repaired, as I will need it, as will most people commenting on this blog.

    Retired people have time on their hands. Unhappy, cranky retired people have no one to spend time with as they drove everyone in their lives away, which results in the wasting of time in stores, terrorizing the employees and making the lives of other shoppers miserable.

    True, some of these people fought in WWII, Korea, Vietnam, but most didn’t. Even if they did, that doesn’t give them the right to behave like asses. My uncle served in Korea and Vietnam as a Green Beret. He is one of the most polite, well-mannered people in the world. He is grateful for the life he has and the people in it.

    These unhappy, cranky people probably have only themselves to blame for their miserable lives; I can guarantee I had nothing personally to do with it.

  59. Thea says:

    People keep mentioning attitudes in Asia, which reminds me of the fact that only 3 weeks ago I was lined up at Incheon Airport (Seoul, Korea) after a 12 hour flight. Now, I know that it’s customary for seniors in Asia to get preferential treatment, and I generally like to defer to oldies on the bus on in queues even at home in Australia, just cause it’s polite and I know their knees and hips are giving out faster than mine. However, it pissed me off MAJORLY when TEN old people pushed straight in front of my boyfriend and I, and then took more than half an hour to clear customs whilst we stood there, coldly silent and quivering with rage. If they had have asked, or even smiled, or even looked at us, I would have felt ok about it, but the sense of entitlement where they just walked to the front of the queue and deposited themselves right in front of us (AND trod of my foot and didn’t say sorry) makes me glad it’s not customary for seniors to act like this where I’m from.

  60. Di says:

    There’s this theory I’ve heard from comedians that life is just progressing up the arc away from diapers and then back down to it. It sounds like the elderly at the meat counter are really going through a second adolescence, and they insist on it being THEIR adolescence and not the new one with ipods and shiny toys. Which is a shame, as it would distract them – at least when they’re sullen they’re quiet!

  61. Michelle S. says:

    Is 50 old? Hardly!

    Old people, I know plenty and they’re just like everyone else. Some good, some bad. The bad ones stand out like sore thumbs. As for complaining about old people, well, it’s better than being rude and mean to them to their faces, might as well vent somewhere to get your frustrations out.

  62. jeff says:

    My first job was in a convenient store with a deli. I could understand seniors wanting to slice their meat thin so that they could get a couple more sandwiches out of their order. Remember, these are folks on a very strict income with no pay increase. Retirement savings these days have to stretch 20 to 30 years. When Generations X and Y reach that age, it may be 30-40 years. They don’t want extra because they have to watch every penny.

    My problem was always with the ones who had some magical way of making it cost less. “If you place it on the scale lightly, it’ll weigh less” or “Slice in lenghtwise so I get more meat.” I was more than willing to accomodate special requests for our customers but I draw the line at changing the laws of physics.

  63. Jen says:

    To hell with “respecting your elders” Respect is an earned thing, not a deserved thing. A sense of entitlement is not an attractive quality.

    If you’re 60 and asshole, I’ll treat you like the shit you are. If you’re 60 and nice, you’ll get a pleasant smile and politeness from me.

    I’m 21 and I treat people my age the same way.

    Oh, and Waiter, think of it this way… That asshole who didn’t care about your thumb is probably collecting worms somewhere 😉

  64. Persephone says:

    Jen: Oh, and Waiter, think of it this way… That asshole who didn’t care about your thumb is probably collecting worms somewhere.

    I tell myself that the jerk is going to die unhappy and alone. It’s amazing how much better I feel after thinking that.

  65. Mark says:

    The best comments are those who think they (eldery) should be treated as they treat others- Grow up. What is old? If you are 20 and an A–, then others give you a pass, becase they realize you have no experiance in life,.. and ignore you, if you are 40, and an A– people look at you funny because they think you should know better– If you are 80 and an A– youo should laugh … maybe they will too..if they don’t, they certainly knwo they can’t win a fight! LOL..God Bless you if you are 80 and can be an A–!

  66. Mark says:

    The best comments are those who think they (eldery) should be treated as they treat others- Grow up. What is old? If you are 20 and an A–, then others give you a pass, becase they realize you have no experiance in life,.. and ignore you, if you are 40, and an A– people look at you funny because they think you should know better– If you are 80 and an A– you should laugh at them … maybe they will too..if they don’t, they certainly know they can’t win a fight! LOL..God Bless you if you are 80 and can be an A–!

  67. lakelady says:

    Nice entry. I’ve missed your posts. One thought…next time you get frustrated at the elderly or whoever, give thanks that they gave you something to write about! 😉

  68. Zopilote says:

    I’m 76 and, believe it or not, I’m not a pushy
    senior at the deli counter. My beef with seniors
    are those that bring the daily paper to the
    checkout and start fumbling through it for the
    coupons while the line behind them gets longer.
    My other gripe is the geezer that pulls out
    a coin purse and counts out his nickels dimes
    and pennies to pay for his purchase.

  69. Rich says:

    How about those people that order 1/16th of a pound of everything????? Drives me nuts.

  70. Bekah says:

    Enjoyed the post!

  71. Old Geezer says:

    Wow, Steve. Don’t hold back. Tell us how you really feel. (For the record, I’m not the fellow above who calls himself Ol Geezer, but I share some of his opinions.)

    First, consider that you have only two possible destinations. You will, like me, end up “old” and retired, or you will end up like my father who died at the age of 49. What you are writing about isn’t the rudeness of old people. You are writing about the rudeness of rude people. I think it is sad that you, someone who relied for many years on the tips of a broad range of people, can so easily categorize them solely by what appear to be your prejudices against age. So are we to gather that all old people stiffed you and all young people tipped lavishly? Why did you bitch so much about all of those self-important yuppies? Were they all old? When you were lecturing us about compassion and the good work you did amongst your patients and wards in the mental and physical health fields, did you use up your own supply?

    Second, consider that terrible old lady in line in front of you. You know, the one who had the temerity to be in the store when you wanted to get your lunch meat. She might be the widow of a man who left her with $300 a month from Social Security after a lifetime of working to support a family. She probably woke up this morning with the same screaming pain in her joints that she had for the last ten years and will have for the next ten. She might have just gone over the Prescription Drug Coverage limits so she had to skip the medication, this month, that gave her some small relief. She didn’t shove into line ahead of you. She didn’t keep you from getting the last piece of stilton (because she probably can’t afford anything more than Velveeta). She just committed the sin of living long enough that she doesn’t move as quickly as you and has to count her pennies. Maybe she, like me, has had the deli clerk put the wrong code into the computer and wants to check first before being charged $84.00 for her half pound of bologna. (Yes, it happened to me. And yes, it took some time for the sighing, gum-cracking clerk to find a manager to reverse the item out of the register.) And maybe, she wants to use the coupons THAT THE STORE INVITED HER TO USE, just like the twenty-something mother of the four screaming children who were in line ahead of her. Maybe she counted out those pennies because she just didn’t a few spare Twenties in her purse. Then again, it could be that she doesn’t trust that teen-aged “clerk” to count out the right change while chatting with the bagger about how wasted she is from drinking all night.

    Let’s try to put ourselves in the other person’s place. Try to be more considerate of people whose situation you have not experienced and do not understand. I, in turn, will try to be pompous and judgmental to better understand your sense of personal importance.

    Let the flaming begin!

  72. Marilyn says:

    Two Words: South Florida. Holy cow, I have never seen such rudeness and every man for himself crap in my almost 50 years. It was hard being surrounded by all that negativism and dog-eat-dog mentality. Endless complaining…nothing ever good enough…

    However…I feel sorry for the old frail people getting screwed by the government now and living scared day by day…yeah, those pennies do in fact mean everything…yeah, we are only human and get impatient and pissed off about all the waiting, but unless they are total assholes, those old people deserve if nothing else, common courtesy from those of us who are not old and frail. You might even help them out once in a while if they are struggling with an item or seem lost or confused.

    Besides the obvious presence of karma, it’s just the right thing to do.

  73. Donfield says:

    I’ll be 58 next month, but I don’t feel old unless the joints start aching really bad. Unfortunately that’s most of the time since I broke a knee about 20 yrs ago.

    Next time you fantasize about shipping out the old folks, imagine putting them on iceberg lettuce and feeding them to the tuna instead.

  74. Old Cook says:

    Hey Waiter:

    What is wrong with wanting thinly sliced meat on a sandwich?? I was a cook & my father was a chef & I grew up appreciating the abundant taste of thinly sliced ham or beef. When I was a cook, I would make myself a french dip by cutting a perfectly medium-rare prime rib in half and slicing super thin pieces (removing the fat!) to pile high on a butter-toasted french roll. Pure heaven on Earth!! There is nothing worse than ordering a French Dip at a supposedly “nice” restaurant only to be served cheap beef cut 1/4 inch thick, loaded with fat & gristle, on a cold roll. Even worse is when the meat is cut “with the grain”, making the sandwich impossible to bite without pulling a huge chunk of meat out of the sandwich.

    While I agree that garbage like Olive Loaf can be cut & eaten thick, that is not the way to enjoy a quality piece of meat! As my dad would say, slice it so you can read through it!!

    As far as your apparent intolerance of the elderly, I look forward to how you feel when your body aches with pain & all you want to do is go home & take your pain meds & muscle relaxers to be able to approach feeling “normal”.

    NOT one of your better postings!!

  75. J says:

    I find it really, really, unbelievably funny how those lecturing you, Waiter, about stereotyping old people are going ahead and and stereotyping the youth!

    Who the heck cracks their gum at work anymore? That sounds like a teenage stereotype from the 1990’s. Are they all talking with valley girl voices too?

    -Not anyone I’ve seen at my young age. Yet the old folks commenting here seem to see every young person as a slutty, substance abusing, eye rolling, gum cracking, intolerant person.

    Geezers, you’re doing the exact same thing to the poor teenagers and college students who are trying to make a living. You’re being hypocrites! Hypocrites with blinders on because you’re stereotyping every poor kid out there too.

    Not every young person goes nuts with substances, not every young person (male OR female) is a slut, and not every young person rolls their eyes or has the audacity to chew gum while at work.

    Shame on all of you. Stop throwing blankets over the people you encounter.

    I imagine half of those young people being complained about were just nervous, stressed out kids trying to make a living and go afford college at the same time.

    I will add that some of the comments are saying older folks need more respect because of their health problems? Young people have health issues too, some of which can be worse that what the 70 year old next to them is suffering from. But like that 70 year old, the young people are quietly suffering and it’s making them cranky. Not all health issues are visible, the creaky bones that old woman is suffering from is just as invisible to an outsider as something a young person may have… and that young person has their entire life ahead of them they need to suffer through it.

    Health issues do not deserve respect. They deserve help if the person nicely asks for it.

    No matter your age, status, or health issues, respect is earned.

  76. J says:

    Old Cook:

    Waiter went through that already. His gallbladder was bad and he was in pain. The young are not invincible. The young understand what it means to hurt.

  77. Old Geezer says:

    @ J:

    Looks like I”ve struck a nerve! Nothing I wrote was from long-lost memory. The references were all from recent experiences. Maybe you haven’t noticed someone cracking gum, but yes it does still happen and yes there are those who work and chew gum. And yes, there are those who are totally oblivious to the fact that the money they are working so hard to receive comes from the customers they are so studiously ignoring.

    J, you are right that not every young person goes nuts with substances or is a slut. I don’t recall suggesting anything to the contrary. Now, can you admit that not every old person is an addle-pated fool keeping you from doing what is the only important thing in life?

    You are right that some of those young people might be stressed out kids trying to make a living and going to college. Gosh! It never occurred to me when I was in exactly that same situation that it was an excuse for ignoring or being impatient with any of my customers, young or old.

    And yes, some young people have pain too. I know that because I was not yet seventeen years old when I got my neck broken in an auto accident. So I have lived 51+ years with what you can only imagine.

    But you know what? Even if you are poor as a church mouse you have at least 10, 20 or 30 years to overcome that. Those of us just taking up room here have seen our pensions destroyed by an economy whose ultimate effects you can only imagine. Counting our pennies is what keeps us from starving to death in the dark.

    Keep in mind that the old Wal Mart greeter you see isn’t there for the fun of it. He’s there because he has no other way to afford both food and medicine after having worked more years than you’ve been alive.

    You seem to think that every stranger you meet must earn respect. I think that every stranger I meet deserves my respect until he abuses it. To each his own, I guess.

  78. kk tromboner says:

    I can empathize with both sides of the story here. I am a waitress and I know how rude old people can be, but I also know how hard old people can have it in our society. I also know that young people are rude to old people, but old people can be just as rude back. Often, I find it hard to respect my elders when they have a preconceived notion of me that is far from flattering. I think both sides are right. People should not be entitled to respect or the right to be a jerk, but everyone needs a little empathy. I pretty much read this article for what I think it was: a venting. And I have no problems with that. It certainly gave me a laugh, and that’s what I came for. Cheers, Waiter.

  79. MamaB says:

    Your rant made me chuckle. I’m in the UK, but used to work on the deli counter at one of the major supermarkets. One of the meats we offered was ‘hand carved’ turkey, a full bird on the bone which was skewered on a special carving board and attacked with a serrated knife. I lost count of the number of people who ordered their hand-carved turkey sliced ‘wafer thin’ and could not understand that, unlike the joints formed of cuts mixed with water and squashed down into a homogenous mass of almost-meat, ‘real’ cooked poultry just crumbles if you attempt to slice it into millimetre thick slices. Sigh. We did get to taste test everything behind the counter though, which was good!

  80. Still waiting says:

    This entry had me laughing and nodding in agreement. One of my favorite people is my neighbor who is 69 years old, always has my favorite beer, sends me hilarious email and is generally jolly after a not easy life. He gives me hope as I wait on some miserable old people and I frequently wonder why. My neighbor and I actually pick on the ‘old’ miserable people when we go out. I will strive to be ‘old’ like my 69 year old neighbor!!

  81. Peggy says:

    You are too good. Thanks for the best laugh I’ve had in a while, and I needed it!

  82. Melissa says:

    Hi! I just finished reading your book….it was very interesting…I am a waitress now, and i have been a waitress before….I’m hoping i’m one of those ppl just passing through. I just graduated massage therapy school! but i must say, i DO really enjoy serving ppl. 🙂 lol….Keep on writing! your good!

  83. wild says:

    I’m not religious per se but I like this expression which goes something like this: “there but for the grace of God go I”. Chill people (young and old), chill.

  84. Tarun says:

    One of your best posts ever!

  85. Suzanne says:

    One of the things I love most about your blog is the furvor you stir in the comments. I always read them all, even the retarded ones.

    To those who say we should be patient with our elders and yadda yadda: I couldn’t agree more. However, my bet is you have never had to deal with really nasty people on a regular basis. Whenever ANYONE, old, young or otherwise is ugly and nasty for NO REASON, it hurts. Period. and when you are exposed to a certain demoraphic of people who hurt you over and over, you tend to generalize. We all do it. EVEN YOU.

    To say that anyone has earned the right to be crotchety is retarded also.

  86. RGK says:

    Hilarious as usual Waiter!

  87. Brett says:

    @ Old Geezer

    That may be the most important difference in our generations. Yours was taught that you respect everyone, respect your elders, etc. Our generation, after having respected people and seen only disrespect in return (from a small fraction of people, of course – many times underpaid, ill-trained, and authority-hungry teachers), decided that respect is completely based on merit.

    Forgive us for being untrusting but nowadays you have to be careful. The times, they are a-changin’. That doesn’t mean that we disrespect anyone off the bat, but they also don’t deserve full respect until they prove they deserve it. Call our generation disrespectful, uncivil, rude, whatever you will, but realize it is a result of everything that came before.

    In short: Respect and disrespect are earned. Until then, I nothing you.

  88. Aam says:

    Looks like some people are getting offended. They must be the ones who you are talking about, and are annoyed at getting called out. Waiter, and others, are talking about some specific instances. If the line was long and slow, than the line was long and slow. If people got hit in the heel, than they did. Get offended at the fellow elderly, not at the people exposing certain people’s behavior. And, yes, I realize young people are annoying too. But that isn’t what the post is about. So chill.

    Woohoo waiter! 8D



  90. lb8002 says:

    i work in a retail enviroment think thats bad?try explaining to geezerites hopped up on geritol,why we dont carry something they bought 5 years ago.i like to see their eyes start glaze over when i launch into a speech on all the benefits of the new or upgraded it the geezer displeaser.

  91. Leigh says:

    Waiter…. I have to say given your background, I’m rather surprised at this post. You and I share a good, Catholic, socially just education during about the same time frame. I understand though that a decade of working in resteraunts may have jaded you.

    I agree that folks who are entitled can be very challenging to deal with. I run across that with people of all ages. I find it important to try and not assign intent to people. For instance, did I just get hit by the cart because that person wanted to get ahead of me, or did I just get hit because the person’s depth perception is failing?

    Society is changing, respect is now “earned” rather than given. However, it’s not PC to bash minorities anymore. So… have times really changed or just the labels of people that we’re allowed to be rude to?

    I turned 40 a couple of years ago, all of a sudden, manufacturers are using blurry print, snow is getting heavier and harder to shovel, and teenagers are looking at me as if I’m middle-aged and hopelessly out of it. Society just up and changed when I turned 40!!

    Actually, I’m just going through the natural progression through the life cycle. Given the beating my 401K took this year, I’m not so sure anymore that I won’t have to count pennies when I retire in 30 years.

    Given all that Catholic education, I was a polite kid. I don’t understand rudeness of teenagers, I was one and I didn’t act that way in public. I gave my parents a run for their money, but not strangers. I’m not elderly yet, so I can’t really judge manners amongst the elderly. All jobs have crappy elements to them. The quicker that younger folks learn that, the easier their life will actually be. When I was a young nurse and I was upset that there were patients that no matter what I did, they wouldn’t be happy, an older nurse helped me realize not to personalize everything and to do the best I can in every situation. I’m glad I learned that in my young 20’s and I’m not sitting at 42 still frustrated by others unhappiness.

    I find rudeness happens among people who can’t get out of themselves. No matter what age. Whether it’s the teen with an IPOD glued into their ears or an oldster wanting to get ahead of me in line.

    As a society, we need to chill out and start practicing empathy. We are no different from the generation that stood against the civil rights movement, we just choose to be rude and disrespectful to different people. Old people, fat people, smokers and to a certain extent, gays have replaced blacks, hispanics and women as groups we can target.


  92. Teresa says:


    We does your fiction novel get published! I love your writing!

  93. JT says:

    You know, I live near two small-ish grocery stores that are attended by older people because of their convenient size and location. One store has tables and chairs near a coffee machine that sits to the side of the front door. There is no olive loaf in the deli. The other store has olive loaf, but no resting spot for seniors who want to cool their heels and socialize with friends. Guess which store is the more pleasant shopping experience for everyone, including the seniors? Not the one that focuses on economy of price and speed.

    PS – It’s hard to not be cranky. My grandparents are in their nineties. Their health problems are bad enough, but worse still is watching their friends – even those who are as much as forty years younger – pass away before them. They get sad sometimes, but I’m actually amazed at how they’re *not* cranky and bitter, not crashing their carts into people who roll their eyes at them or slowing things down the first time someone condescends to them for asking a question, at how they still make new friends. What makes me upset is watching how they’re treated sometimes for being old, and I’m amazed at their able and often disarming responses to such treatment. I did not inherit their social grace.

  94. JT says:

    Old Geezer,

    I’m the mom in line with the kid. Thanks for your patience, Sir.


    I’ve met people like you. The paradox of sitting back and making others earn the basic human respect of one’s fellow man is that you do nothing to earn theirs. You even lose respect from those whose viewpoint is that everyone they meet, from the outset, deserves courtesy.

  95. dano says:

    From Port Charlotte, Florida…

    We live in heaven’s waiting room. I think the crankiness comes from people who planned a wonderful retirement and didn’t include runaway inflation and recession in their plans. The retirement isn’t so wonderful when you have to be a door greeter at Wal-Mart to make ends meet.

    Loved the post. If you rewally want a challenge, try shopping at a Sam’s Club on a Saturday, in south Florida, Five days before Christmas when they are handing out free samples. It is a sea of gray-haired, mass hysteria to make sure one gets one’s share of neat-to-eat, reheated, meaty treats!

  96. WmZinser says:

    Hey waiter, you are good writer. Why not be a better writer? Do you notice a certain cliche tendency creep into characterizations? Seniors are technically unsavvy (uncomprehending of computer ordering), cheap (coupons) and driving land yachts (gun boats). The noble prolie, tho, toils away, still witty despite the unending abuse. Why so one sided all the time? It would be funnier (and more human) if YOU were the one caught out. So you, the person who has a Mac friend on call, caught on right away to computerized ordering? There was not one oldster who bucked the Luddite trend? My auntie is 75 and she is a heavy computer user. She is not obsessed with saving a nickel and she is polite. But not part of your broadbrushed world!

  97. frankD says:

    doctor to old man “you should know that using viagra may cause blindness”

    old man to doctor “at my age maybe its better i can’t see what i’m fucking !”


  98. Deena says:

    #24 Daria wrote on 12/17/08 at 11:56 pm

    Hilarious! I cannot imagine…

  99. Ted says:

    “If I sound rather bitter…”

    Yeah, you do.

  100. Waitress says:

    I miss WaiterRant! I want recollections of waiting tables, or bartending, or managing a restaurant. I don’t care about deli counters or Oprah or book signings (congratulations on your recent success however, it’s not like I’m begrudging you that). I want to relate to you about how much it sucks to work a double on Christmas Eve, not how much it sucks to wait for half a pound of thinly sliced cheddar. What about trying to manage a restaurant while picking up two four tops and bartending at the same time??? Or getting the Jesus card on Easter??

    I understand this the deli counter falls under the category of “service industry,” but this waitress is here for WaiterRant, and has recently been most disappointed.

  101. craig says:

    gday waiter, craig from comment #28 on this same page. since the 12th i’ve read and finished your book, and read every blog entry from where i left off in 2006 up to today.

    having read it all in such a short time, especially after i used to hang out to read your old posts (especially back when you were still at The Bistro), it is really something to step back and look at how things seem to be going for you now. congratulations mate, i sincerely wish you all the best!

    little side-note for you – i enjoyed reading the russell crowe bits in the book – reminded me of when i was a teenager in the 90’s when i used to ride my mountain bike past his house (mid-north coast of NSW – on Central Bucca Road, NSW in google maps). true story.

    anyway, all the very best with your next book. its been a pleasure to follow your adventures thus far.

    cheers mate

  102. Ben says:

    ahh waiter. not to depress you or anything, but i just finished my first semester of college, and i couldnt help but notice that you graduated college the year i was born.

    but dont feel too old. you’re still young at heart. ;]

  103. Lani says:

    @ Ben
    Now that was just mean. LOL

  104. СЕО says:

    Конкурс для блоггеров от DRUGREVENUE с призовым фондом в 3000 долларов, спешите

  105. Earl says:

    You’re right about the old folks. They should all be taken way out to an island someplace and left there. We should also take all the ugly people and leave them also and while we’re cleaning house let’s take all the cripples, the stupid people, the foreigners, the smart alecs and all the others that don’t please us. Then we would soon be left with just you and I and I am not so sure about you.

  106. Randall says:

    What you need to think of is, how did they get to the grocery store? Find out when that bus from the nursing home brings them, and don’t shop at that time.

    They do the same kind of stuff in cabs. They want something for nothing, complain incessantly, and expect to be entertained if possible too.

    There is a post in my blog that describes a retired Air Force Major and a retired school teacher ripping off a ride from a nursing home to a doctors apointment.

    Of the Major and school teacher, the guy from the city elderly and handicapped ride service said, “Seniors from hell.”

  107. trsh says:

    old folks homes- making the streets and groceries safer for everyone. Seriously, i can’t wait to be old as shit and make everyone do everything else for me. driving? hell no, i plan on making my children (or grandchildren!) drive my ass around. i predict i’m going to spend a lot of time chauferring and cooking and cleaning after them, time for a little pay back. not to be a burden on them, but just make them work for their inheritance and be a little grateful they still have their youth and health.

  108. Thomas says:

    I couldn’t care less about deli meat but I would definitely be a connoisseur of Twenty Five Year Old Scotch if I could afford to be.

  109. kabra says:

    @Earl, Cheers!! The most intelligent post so far!
    I’m young enough to wish I will know which nursing home Waiter will be residing in.

  110. Michelle says:

    Hysterical. Your suggestion sounds similar to mine of desiring to ship old people to an island once they hit a certain age. Usually when I hit the grocery store at 9 am, the elderly are out in full force, slowly pushing their carts and blocking the aisles. God help me if I get like that…

  111. Goddess says:

    Ha, you think OLD people are bad?

    I am a career grocery store woman, and I can tell you that I have dealt with all ages. Give me an octogenarian any day!

    You can keep the 19, 20, 21 year old kids. Keep them. Put them on the iceberg for a few years! Just keep them far away from me.

    You see, the elderly folks do live on a budget and they also have different appetites than they did years ago. When their meal portions decrease they buy LESS so it doesnt waste. Sure, its a pain shaving a chunk of meat down to .25 for them, but I’d still rather do it than deal with college kids!

    Try having a group of hung over, obnoxious, and rude kids demanding things for cheaper or free. The elderly have reasons to be forgiven, those spoiled brats do not.

  112. Old Geezer says:

    Hey guys, I would have written again sooner, but I fell asleep, drooling into my oatmeal. But it’s given me time to think. Those of you who want to take the worthless ones out to an island somewhere are right.

    So, here’s what I propose:

    Just about everyone who has voiced an opinion here was totally worthless for the first fifteen years of their life. Hell, when you were born you crapped your pants and couldn’t change them bu yourself. You couldn’t talk well enough to be understood. You leached off of everyone else for food. You sure as hell didn’t pay for the roof over your head or the clothes on your back. And talk about holding people up. Dragging all of that stuff around you needed just make it through the day really slowed your mother down.

    So, why don’t we just drown all of the worthless babies as soon as they’re born? Then you wouldn’t have to put up with all those worthless people. Of course you’d be dead too, but a small price to pay to rid the earth of all those drags on society.

    Let’s make it retroactive. I say we start with the smug, self-centered asshats who lack compassion and empathy.

  113. Andie says:

    yes there are those who work and chew gum>>

    At the same time, too! They’re known as CEOs. But seriously, we will all get old. How we handle it is up to ourselves. Do you want to be cranky all the time, or would you rather you made your own day more pleasant by being nice to those around you? I know what I’d rather do. Life’s too short to be mad all the time.

    I work for a national tax-preparation company. Talk about cranky seniors! I can’t do anything about how much they owe the IRS, nor can I do anything about how much I have to charge them. All I can do is explain the rules, & spend up to 1-1/2 hours with them only to have them tell me their son-in-law will do their tax return for free. Well there’s 90 mins I’ll never get back & never get paid for. But still, I smile, thank them & hope to hell they don’t come back next year.

    All that’s shot to pieces when a little old lady comes in & is the sweetest thing ever. It makes up for a month’s worth of crabasses.

  114. Andie says:

    I worked retail & I can tell you that the worst customers were the teenagers & 20-somthings. They’d come to the register, bluetooth stuck to their heads, literally throw money me & then look at me when I said “thank you” as if I were interrupting the Geneva Convention. I’d usually get a “whatever” in response to my wish that they have a good day. Give me an oldster, counting out pennies, any day. They’d usually laugh & nod their heads when I said “drop dead” to the kid instead of “thank you”.

  115. NotOldGeezer says:

    A question for those assholes who claim “Respect is an earned thing”.

    How does one earn your respect in 5 seconds? That’s often times the amount of time people have to interact.

    Please, I want to know, so do a lot of other people I suspect. What are your standards?

    Why don’t you put those on a list and tape it on your chest so people know?

    How f****** arrogant is that? And why should people go out of their way to “earn” YOUR respect? WTF are you after all?

  116. jennifer says:

    “Why should be go out of their way to earn respect? ” Not Old Geezer said

    Becausee, my friend, if you do not go out of your way to be respectful you will not get any back at all. Isn’t that how life works?

    Perhaps you need a refresher course in self esteem.

  117. 26 says:

    50 is not old – not even close. It seems like people don’t even start looking more than middle age until they round 60.
    That being said, did you know that some of the motorized scooter/shopping cart things have horns in them? While recently at a Walmart in Melbourne, FL I got honked at 4 different times in the course of shopping (in addition to being pushed once).
    I also don’t understand 55 year olds demanding I respect my elders. You are not old! Even if you were old, this does not mean that you get to break the rules at the gym and take over my reserved time on the elliptical.

  118. NotOldGeezer says:


    Please read my comment again.

    My point is: you don’t respect someone because they please you. You respect someone because he or she is a human being. To seniors, you respect and show it unconditionally. That’s the way I was brought up and the way I’m teaching my children.

    Seems to some here, respect is something you don’t show until proven worthy. Some even go as far to demand an elderly to show the worthiness of respect. Sounds to me like BS and a sorry excuse to be rude and disrespectful to seniors when they get in your way.

    My question remains,
    Suppose you were this old guy, how would you show that you deserve everybody’s respect in a a grocery store?

    You think this attitude only applies to strangers? Think again! If it works with strangers, it works with family too!

    This is precisely why so many America’s seniors are kicked out of their family as soon as their value is up and they are no longer able to “earn the respect” of their children.

  119. carl says:

    Everyone deserves my respect, and it’s up to them to lose it.

  120. Leigh says:

    Yes Carl!!

    Everyone should be respected, being human is how you initially “earn” respect, whether you keep that respect or not is dependent on how you behave.

    With that said, there is no excuse for bad manners, so even if someone is rude to me, it’s not OK for me to be rude to them.

    If it were all about “an eye for an eye,” we’d all be blind!


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  123. Angela says:

    I had a lot of respect for older people until I worked for two years at a cosmetic counter at a Jordan March in Hollywood Fl, which is close to Miami. Suffice it to say that it took years and years after I left to regain this respect. My favorites were the old ladies, who having emigrated from NYC couldn’t drive, who couldn’t understand that the store prohibited us from opening registers in the absence of a transaction….they needed change for the bus right NOW!.

  124. AKA says:

    I have respect and courtesy for those who deserve it, regardless of age. People who ram their carts into my heels, cut in line or are otherwise rude and nasty are my least favorite people anywhere. The older folks have no monopoly on that, unfortunately. I see too much of that on display from assholes of all ages. Unfortunately, due to excessive use of loud headphones and earbuds, more of the assholes will be yelling in years to come, because some of them are already deaf in their younger years. Joy!

  125. Connie says:

    I can fully relate to working in a deli. I worked down in Coral Springs Florida in the late 70’s and if I never clean another slicer or wrap another piece of meat it will be a good life. I REALLY didn’t care for the group that liked shaved ham or those that wanted head cheese. That always looked and felt like brain to me. Tongue is another that brings back frightful memories. Thanks for your story.

  126. Susan says:

    Waiter, I remember that you recently said that when you wanted to see your commenters go crazy, you would throw up a post about tipping. Part of me wonders if you didn’t know the response you’d get… and were looking forward to the comments that disagree with you.

    However, this may be my final time reading Waiter Rant. I’ve enjoyed it over the years, but I’ve grown tired of reading about non-waiter posts (doing your laundry, walking your dog) and honestly, it’s your arrogance that gets to me. It’s your blog and your right to always be the hero of your story – the waiter who knows better than the manager, owner and customers, the customer who can relate to the deli guy better than the other customers, etc. I’ve seen you be insulting in this blog to fat people, poor people, and now old people. Not everyone is the same. People annoy me every day, for having no manners and bad etiquette on the sidewalks, streets, stores, subways and theaters of this city. But they’re young, old and everything in between, and no one person represents their entire kind. For the sake of writing a post, you found it convenient to insult all older people. I’m only 34, but I found it offensive. So I’m done.

  127. Tarheel Rambler says:

    And those same seniors butting into line and demanding you slice their pickle loaf clean are driving BMWs, Mercedes and Cadilacs that they park right outside the front doors of the store in the “No Parking” zone. And if you deign to point out the prohibitive sign, they snort and act like they’re entitled and you’re an idiot to think differently.

  128. Mike says:

    I’m elderly–63 years old. I’m in no way and will never be like the elderly written about in your blog & responses.

    I like to get through the supermarket fast. Luckily, Freys here in Phoenix has self service and can get out fast.

    I remember once in a Florida supermarket behind an elderly women complaining about 5 cents. I remember saying to her “Let’s go before I die of old age.”

  129. Mike says:

    I forgot to say I’m currently reading your book “Waiter rant” love it.

  130. Sebastian says:

    The kind of old person you will be – mean or nice – is built by the small ways of thinking and acting now. Whatever you mould yourself to be when you are younger will be more pronounced, boiled down, and served up when you are old. Be nice now. It’s good practice.

  131. maynards pet says:

    you really have a way with words, waiter. so glad i worked in the bakery vs. the deli LOL! the old ones were still pretty rough, but at least i didnt have to deal with a tetanus laden blade! and LMAO at the whole ‘floating old geezers out to sea on an iceburg’ bit…LMAO!

  132. Anonymous says:

    Oh, I wish something like this would be published in a larger forum so everyone could feel the pain of this shared and truly righteous frustration! Thank you for saying it straight!

  133. Booply says:

    Point of fact, you should respect your elders simply because they have lived longer than you have. The basic principal of respect is to show admiration for the learnings, experience and general aptitude of a person who may or may not share your points of view. My grandfather does not share many of my viewpoints on quite a few subjects, but I still respect his point of view over my own because he has seen far more than I have, has attested to far better and worse times and conditions than I have faced, and can describe to me without berating me for being a “know-nothing” adulescentia as I am when I ask his opinion on any matter. That doesn’t mean I hold his notions to be correct (I can make my own mistakes and have my own ideas thank you very much), or excuse any rude behavior he may illicit or even portray, but I do respect him for who he is and what he has gone through. But being older, he also knows that with respect, knowledge and power comes responsibility. And entitlement, self-prescribed or otherwise, does not go hand in hand with responsibility…

  134. Carroll says:

    Merry Christmas, Writer!

  135. George says:

    Whenever I go into a store or any kind, I always take reading material with me. Long lines now give me a chance to read a few pages. In fact, I recently took your book into a grocery store and read three pages while awaiting my checkout!

  136. Sassy says:

    I get REALLY, REALLY tired of bigotry against people of my age group:
    “The line for luncheon meat is usually populated by legions of cantankerous old people who think advanced age excuses them from getting a ticket and waiting their turn like everybody else.”
    Not ALL old people are cantankerous.. ONLY THE ONES YOU NOTICE.. most of us are invisible to society; and not all young and beautiful people have mastered not being offensive or impatient.

  137. Goldie says:

    I use the self checkout, or else I play games on my phone while I wait. Oh, and I don’t buy deli; it’s bad for you anyway.
    Right now, my parents are in their 70s; my kids are in their teens. Most days, I can’t tell the difference. There are definitely personality changes associated with old age. I understand that totally. I’d be a tad irritable myself if everything hurt. Add to that the resentment of no longer being in control, society-wise, and, long story short, I’m not looking forward to my golden years.
    Thanks for the post Steve, I found it observant and insightful, as usual. No matter what you write – a post about tipping, a post that’s not about tipping, a boring post, an offensive post – someone will always complain. Comes with the territory. No one complains about the things I write, ‘cuz nobody cares. Keep up the good work.

  138. Booply says:

    Goldie, I care…I don’t agree with your summary that older people have no control in society and, less importantly, that deli is bad for you. There’s more and more research that identifies what people should eat based on their dna and their lineage. A particular Naturopathic doctor (D’Adamo), came up with the Blood Type Diet, which in my mind coming from both studying human history and physiology/kinesiology, has some of the truest statements for healthy eating one can be advised from.

    The wikipedia link for the info. on this diet is:

    In regards to how older people have no control or power in society, I find this assumption ludicrous. People in the United States 60 and over encapsulate the majority of stock-holdings and general wealth of this country. Most Senatorial and Congressional appointees are to people over the age of 50. After Obama is sworn into office, there will have only been three Presidents to have been elected before their fourty-fifth birthday, and the majority of those left over are even over 55. With the majority of the wealth and power comes the power to decide the present and future for everyone in this society, including our politics, our economy, our public works, even our social status and outlook towards the rest of the world, and how they see us. Just take a look at the war in Iraq and tell me the young people in America, at least those without trust-funds, aren’t getting screwed by this…

  139. tempwageslave says:

    Most of the elderly I deal with are fine.

    However, on the rude asshole scale, they raise the bar when they have a mind to. If you drag your rotten wrinkled ass in,on christmas day, to scream at me as I get your lotto tickets, and snarl that dec 25 is a sacred day, you can suck it.

    I’m sorry but I find myself neither a teenager, nor hard pressed to have much sympathy for the rotten rude elderly people who are snappish, rude, demanding and nasty.

    My own grandmother would tell them to get a grip. And hey, she rocks, I’m spending a holiday with her because she’s not one of those crabby folk.

    Who I do hope sit alone and cold in their apartment, because they’ve driven everyone away. I don’t care if you’re 18 or 80, act like a jerk and you’ll get no sympathy from me.

    ( crabby elderly lotto fiends can however, suck it. They make my life a hell.)

  140. eDentulous says:

    They need it sliced thin because they don’t have teeth!

    The thinner the meat is, the easier it is to soften with their frothy, mouth-juice as they use their gums (or ill-fitting dentures) to gingerly mash it into meat-paste.

  141. K says:

    Ditto Sassy. If you’re lucky, you’ll be old one day. You think karma is punishing you now … just wait bwa ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha *cough* *snort* *gargle* heh. Pardon me, that happens more often nowadays. Anyway, my biggest problems in public come from 20-something young man-boys, not fully adults yet, who think their godlikeness entitles them to rudeness as a life perq. They’re even more annoying, though less physically dangerous (except when they’re tailigating my little car in their muscle trucks on the icy winter roads), than the packs of teen-to-twentyish girls who roam around looking for old people with iffy balance to brush against and knock down — then they think it was MY fault for getting in their way — unbelievable. You’re only 40, you have a whole lot of payback still coming, sorry to say. Old age is a bitch.

  142. david downey says:

    I just read your blog and I could relate to everything that you said.I used to work in the deli Wild oats markets.Now it’s Whole foods.In Santa Monica, Ca.I started out in the deli dept cause at that time I had no choice. I needed to pay my rent.And plus my manager was my boss.So I couldnt turn down the job.I had to pay him the rent.I had no experience in that type of work.But I’ve worked as a server many years.So I learn fast and always role with the punches.I worked the morning and early lunch shift.I didn’t only get the “Oldsters.” But I also got the picky upscale people that worked and lived in that area.Wanting there shot of wheat grass and freshed squezzed juice with one ounce of ginger and wheat grass in side.It taste ok. with out the ginger.After a few months I started working the juice bar.I got tips.Thats why I decided to do that.Remember.You miss those tips after awhile.I soon became Juice Bar Supervisor.I was in charge of ordering everything for the bar.Juices,fruits,vegetables and the desserts.I had a display case in front of my bar.I was also in charge of ordering and organizing the display case. Everyone like it. Especially during the holidays.I loved to decorate.I had a oppurtunity to transfer to the Holistic Health dept.that meens more money.I had no experience in that dept.But I took a chance got trained.Again.I’m a fast learner.Very observant.Soon after I was made “Merctantle Mgr.”I was incharge of all the returns of people brought back.And made sure that we got our money back from all the different co.I also was the one to order the mercantile.Clothing,shoes,shirts,toys,candles,CD’s.ect.Then I started missing being a server.Cause at this time its been a few years that I havient said “Hi.My name is david,And I’ll be server.”My boss at the time said in previous talks,in the alley smoking ciggs.That she will work with me and my scehdule so I could work part time as a server.When it was time to discuss if I could change my scedule.She said no.Flat out.No.I felt that I got stabbed in the back.So I gave her my two weeks.Out of spite.She wasn’t even there the last day.When everyone sighned a good bye card.and a cake.She prob.felt the same way.I had to do what I had to do.That’s when I started working at Chili’s.I was there for year and eight months.I just quite last month.You learn from your mistakes.I wont let that happen again.

  143. Nurse Carolyn says:

    This post had me cracking up.
    My second job as a teen was in a deli/small grocery store. I don’t remember picky old folks so much but I do remember cutting off the end of my right thumb on a slicer. No stitches but I do still have a scar. We had to close the whole store that day because the owners son and I were the only two working and he drove me to the ER. Lesson learned? Always use the guard while slicing.

  144. ED says:

    >Matt wrote on 12/18/08 at 12:31 am :

    >ON line. ON line. Drives me nuts.

    >Sorry. For every old person jumping in your way is an East Coaster >saying ON line (that’s for internet) when they mean IN line (that’s for >queuing). Grr

    Matt, the phrase “on line” pre-dates the internet and computers here on the East Coast. It dates back to when there were actual painted lines on the floors of some Banks and even the DMV. So you had to go stand On line, if you wanted service.

    And yes, after 20 years working for Bell Labs, I have a clue about being logged in, and on line.

  145. maryO says:

    Try working for an orthopedic specialist. You have no idea how screaming cranky the golden oldies get when you tell them they can’t get more Vicodin until next month, because the 30 pill scrip was supposed to last them the whole month!

  146. AIM=KALIKRNGUYX says:


  147. JT says:

    @ED –

    Wow, you learn something everyday. I love learning about regional idioms.

    Happy New Year Everybody!!

  148. K says:

    I work in a petstore, and last week had an awesome experience with being a cashier. An older lady came into my line to buy cat food, and we started talking. She wrote a check, and when I checked her I.D. I saw her birthdate…the woman was 93 years old! She kept going on about her cat having kittens; you could tell it was the highlight of her day (week, month? who knows.) She was so delighted about it. Unfortunately, she was also holding up my line. Glancing uneasily at my customers to make sure no one was getting impatient, I let her finish her story and sent her off with a Thank You, Have A Nice Day.
    The customers behind her were all smiles, telling me I was so nice to be patient with her, and even they enjoyed hearing her story about her cat. It was nice to have a chance to not be in a hurry for once, and simply enjoy listening to someone who probably got blown off most of the time because of her age.

  149. stef says:

    My therapist told me that when I wait in line, I have no responsibilities. I used to hate waiting in line. Every second seemed deducted from the life that I wanted to be living. Now, I try to choose check out clerks by how friendly they look and simply be in the line with no responsibilities. Sometimes I even bring a book and read.

    Of course, all that’s irrelevant when there’s only one clerk-in-training and you’re starved, but I thought I would share anyway.

  150. Cortney says:

    I remember working at a deli too…that didn’t last long. As I leaned in to slice a chunk of Havarti cheese for this old lady, she squwaked at me to make sure it was cut just right. I heard a very strange noise and felt like my finger was vibrating for a second. Looking down, I realized I had sliced it lengthwise from my knucle to the tip of my pinky. All the way to the bone. She had the gall to tell me she wasn’t paying for the cheese while I stood there trying not to pass out from the blood gushing out… I flipped her off as I walked to the manager’s office. Leaving someone else to deal with her.

  151. krs says:

    I try to get in and out of the grocery as quick as possible. It always seems that when I’m in a hurry the deli is full of old people cutting in front of me and the lines are full of old people examining their receipts. Although I’m glad I’m not the only one, I wish people didn’t have to go through it.

  152. Arkanabar T'verrick Ilarsadin says:

    Most of my best customers were somewhat picky, elderly regulars. I was better than the rest of the FOH dinner staff at getting them their regular order done just so, and quickly, and they rewarded me generously. I would have loved to have had a dozen such tables every night. Alas, that they couldn’t afford so much eating out.

  153. jstew52 says:

    Love it. Excellent scene in “The Wrestler” dealing with same.

  154. emma says:

    Someone asked about respecting your elders…respect is earned not automatically given. You don’t automatically get respect cause you hit 65.

    Besides, the cranky, annoying oldsters were probably asshole douche bags in their young years.

  155. emma says:

    oh yeah, and they are always at IHOp for all you can eat pancakes, bitching and nit-picking the poor waitstaff to death and seriously, leaving a few quarters tip.

  156. odiscordia says:

    ok i have been waiting tables for several years now and ill never forget one elderly lady- her check was like $17.18 and i remember she gives me a $20 and a quarter…so i give her the 3 bucks back, not even thinking about the 7 cents..usually people GIVE you change because they dont WANT change back..well i lay down the cash with her check and she goes “wasnt there some change??!!” in a real bitch fit voice..ok- understand at the time i had no idea what the hell she was talking about.. (i just gave you your change you crackhead!!)
    i was like a deer in the headlights just totally confused..then it dawned on me, she wanted the 7 cents back…i reached into my pocket and dropped the coins onto the table one at a time,..clink….clink……….clink… sure just giving her a hateful look the whole time,….then just had to walk away.. didnt say another word.

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