Can You Hear Me Now?

Lura Zerick

Recently, as we were ‘greeting each other’ at church, I was shaking a young woman’s hand as I shared with her that I plan to begin online classes to earn a B.A. in Biblical Studies, up from my A.A. in Journalism. Nothing too earth shaking about that; people do it every day. What makes it different in my case is that I am 80 years old. It didn’t matter anyway, it was clear that she was not listening to my words. As far as I could tell, since she made no response, she had no inkling of what I had said to her. She walked away probably thinking, ‘that is one strange old lady.’

Everyone has ‘pet peeves’, things that always irritate. One of mine is when I am talking to someone and it is plain to see that he or she is not listening. They are looking at the crowd behind me, eyes moving quickly; they have no idea what I am neither saying nor do they care. I just shut my mouth and walk away as I resolve to have few conversations with that person.

I do not chatter; I am not a gossip. I have a positive attitude and often share goals that I am reaching toward attaining. I try to be an inspiration to others as I encourage them to drag out an old dream and go for it! Every age can use a word of encouragement at times and I know that this can make the difference between failure and success.  Is it because of my age that they think I have nothing interesting to say? I have learned that some believe that being old equals stupid but I beg to differ!!

Professionals do this sometimes. Earlier this year I kept an appointment with an attorney in a city 2 hours away. He called in a colleague; they discussed my case, agreed to represent me. They asked me to leave the papers I had brought (instead of making copies); these would be returned to me in within 2 weeks.

Several months passed. When I finally called to ask for the return of my papers, I was told that these papers were not in the office; I was to call the colleague to ask if the papers were in his office. Of course they were not. Neither one had even a file in my name as a new client. I learned that neither of them wanted to “pursue” the case, although I was not notified of this decision. Just as well, if this was an example of their ‘professionalism’.

Last year a man I didn’t recognize walked up to me as I was speaking to my pastor before leaving church. When the man told me his name, I turned to the pastor and said, “The last time I saw this young man, I threatened to blow his brains out.” The incident, involving this then-21-year-old guy and my 14-year-old daughter, had happened 38 years before; a sure statement to grab attention! Not at all! Pastor’s bland reply, on another subject, was as if I had commented on the weather. Oh, well.

Not listening is right up there with not observing. Once I turned away and asked my husband of 8 years, “What color are my eyes?” When he said “blue,” it proved that he didn’t really look at me. You can bet that my green eyes were angry!

An interesting conversation is a joy to have but also a rarity. Listening is a learned talent; we might miss something important.

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