The upside, they say, is that wisdom will gush forth from all those years of living, and that people from far and wide will gather around and listen to those stories of how things were so great back in the day.
Well, I can’t speak for anyone else, but I can tell you: No one is gathering around and no one is listening to any of my stories.
Here is one reason.
I lost my cell phone the other day.
It wasn’t that big of a deal, because I don’t keep my entire Rolodex on something that small. I just have a few numbers — my parents, my children, a few people at work and several attorneys.
It was the damnedest thing. I knew I had it when I left my house, but somewhere between the house and the car, I must have dropped it.
I’ve been dropping a lot of things lately. Mostly small things, like house keys and little slips of paper like those $1.56 receipts you get when you buy a cup of coffee.
Doctors warn that dropping things is an early warning sign of a potential stroke or peripheral arterial disease. But that is an entirely different story.
The good news is that I found my cell phone. Well, actually, I didn’t actually find it; a mailman found it on the street. It took about two days before we finally hooked up.
But in those two in-between days, after wasting several precious hours of psychic energy completely — and unsuccessfully — searching my house, car and office, and meticulously retracing my steps to my neighborhood gas station and morning coffee shop, I learned several things.
The first, the most important, is that I am in denial over my addiction to my cell phone.
The second, and equally important, is that someone has destroyed every pay phone in the City of Boston. I am not kidding.
The third thing, arguably the most troubling, is that several people called me during my time sans celly — and the mailman actually answered my phone.
Ultimately, it was a good thing, but I felt a little tinge of violation here, especially considering some of my callers said they HAD a NICE conversation with the mailman who had MY cell phone.
My youngest daughter started the ball rolling when she called once and then again — and concluded that something might have been wrong with someone answering her father’s phone. She called her older sister and a message was left on my work answering machine that “my phone was at the post office.”
My oldest daughter also told me to call my cell phone. The nice mailman would answer, she said.
There were several problems with these solutions, chief among them — and I hate to admit this — I don’t know my cell phone number. Another problem? There are more post offices in Boston than pay phones. A third? I couldn’t get any more details from my daughters, because I didn’t know their telephone numbers either. They were saved in my cell phone, which, of course, was missing.
I expect a lack of responsibility from children, but adults were even worse.
One of my good friends, who definitely should know better, reached me at my office and went on and on about how nice a guy the mailman was when he talked with him.
I asked my friend: Did you get his name?
Did you get where he worked, or his telephone number?
“I was convinced that he was a nice guy and that you two would hook up because the process was in motion.”
At that point, I had learned from my youngest daughter that the post office was in Roxbury. I hustled on down and found a nice lady behind the counter. I told her the situation and she went to their lost and found box.
Now, I’m getting a little anxious. Visions of long-distance calls dance through my head. OK. OK.
I was in full panic mode when I actually found my cell phone number and called. Sure enough, the mailman answered.
Here was the even weirder part: He promptly asked me to talk fast because the battery was running low.
Whooooa, buddy. That’s my cell phone. I’ll talk as long as I want.
I told him that I would not only be fast-talking, but I would be fast-driving to his location.
Back to Roxbury I went, and there he was with my cell phone. He explained that he found it on the street.
I thanked him profusely and wrote his name and telephone number on a slip of paper.
And here’s the part where growing old comes in:
I lost that piece of paper, and am unable to thank him properly — and publicly.
Howard Manly is the executive editor of The Bay State Banner. Whether you're a postal employee that recently did him a solid or just someone who wants to let him know what you think, you can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or sound off in the comments.