The 70 year old with elbows of an 18 year-old

I can be pretty scrappy if need be. I mean, hey, just cause I stopped growing at the age of 11 and am just shy of reaching the 5 foot mark doesn’t mean much. I can hold my own when it comes down to it.

9 times out of 10, holding my own is a necessity if I am in any semblance of a line. Waiting to pay at the grocery store, getting on the bus, even getting on and off the elevator can turn into an argument and the key is to be prepared.

One thing that took me a long time to get accustomed to in Israel is that old people are experts at sharpening their elbows. Age doesn’t slow them down – in fact, it adds to their momentum. It is more prudent for them to beat you the bus and oh, there’s a sale on olives? you better move it, son.

The bus is my biggest obstacle these days. Summer’s here and it’s hot. My goal is to get on the bus first, claim an air conditioned seat and get lost on Instagram in peace before starting my day.


Here’s my reality: meet the ferocious eye contact of the old man using a walker, offer him to assist him onto the bus, receive a smile accompanied by an elbow to the face, end up getting on the bus after everyone else, be forced to stand up the whole ride since the seats have all been claimed by this point (see what I mean about being prepared here?).

So, then comes the question: when does being scrappy benefit over being nice? My policy maintains that when it comes to the bus, there is wiggle room. I prefer to help out the old man, even though his elbows are surprisingly strong for his age.  However, in the grocery store line there is no compromise. You gotta stake your claim and refuse to budge. You give an inch and everyone will be trampling all over you.

And let’s be real here, the best tool at your disposal is a very heavy sigh, an audible “נו” and then the argument begins. But at least it’s free of elbows!


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