Media Mashup: November 4, 2015

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Don’t Mess With ‘Old’ Folks

Boss. Chief. Sarge. Sweetheart.

These are the words used to address me as an “old” guy even though I am 64 years old.

I am tired of people thinking I am one step from the grave.

For example, I recently flew on American Airlines, which has installed machines to get your boarding passes and baggage tickets. The boarding passes aren’t new, but I hadn’t run into the baggage checks before.

I went to one machine, which didn’t work. I went to another, which spit out the boarding passes but not the baggage checks.

I went to the ticket counter to check my bag and was told I had to go back to the machines. The attendant treated me like a doddering old fool who couldn’t deal with technology. I demonstrated to him how the two machines didn’t work. He left even though I still couldn’t check my bag.

Fast forward to applying for a hybrid for long-term coverage from Lincoln Financial. Simply put, the insurance would pay for institutional care beyond Medicare. I had a knee replacement three years ago. That simple operation–one that thousands of people have had–made me ineligible for any long-term healthcare coverage.

Seriously! A simple operation like a knee replacement makes you a sick old geezer who may have to go to a nursing home.

Nevertheless, I do notice that institutional memory, such as why we shouldn’t do what we tried 10 years ago, makes little difference as I grow older. People want to race headlong into the same mistakes we made a decade or two ago.

Therefore, I have decided I can’t do much about getting long-term health coverage. Neither can I make people avoid previous mistakes.

Just don’t call me Boss, Chief, Sarge or Sweetheart! I can still knock some young’un’s block off!

Christopher Harper is a longtime journalist, who reported in Europe and the Middle East. He teaches media law and international journalism. Send suggestions and tips to


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