The Irascible Grouch

Jan Fowler

is author of the best-selling book, “Hot Chocolate for Seniors”(winner of national & international awards); winner of Gold Halo Award from the So. California Motion Picture Council for Outstanding Literary Achievement; winner of First Place Excellence in Journalism Award (SPJ –Southern CA); Town & Gown “Phenomenal Woman” Award; former television host & KSPA radio host of “Senior Living at its Best with Jan Fowler”; speaker, contributing author for “Savvy Women Revving Up for Success”; founder of Starburst Inspirations, Inc. 501(c) (3) nonprofit which supports Redlands Drug Court. www.janfowler.com. Jan welcomes feedback and comments about her columns and invites you to leave her a message on her website.

“The Irascible Grouch”

By Jan Fowler

If you would like to spoil the day for a grouch, give him a smile.”           Author Unknown

The snapdragons I had selected were absolutely beautiful!  Tall, in full bloom, and exactly what I needed to brighten my home with a colorful splash of curb-appeal to offset the boredom of our lingering pandemic.

So I practically caressed all ten plants as I lovingly, gently, and carefully placed them in my shopping cart, ready to guard them with my life if necessary to prevent any breakage of fragile stems.

And then—oh no!—imagine my shocked dismay when I found myself face-to-face with the grouchiest checkout cashier you’ve ever seen—“Miss Snappy Dragon” herself!

With growing disbelief, I gasped as she reached down to scan the flower pots, clumsily tipping them this way and that with such hasty roughness that she knocked off several perfect blooms.  But I stifled my urge to throttle her and remained calm and polite as I asked her to please be more careful.

“Well then you do it! Take each one out yourself,” she glared and snapped, and remained frosty and snippity throughout the rest of the transaction.

So what makes some people so grouchy?

I predict that one day it will be scientifically proven that grouches pollute the environment, help to incite terrorism, contribute to global warming, and will very likely be listed in future editions of Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth!”

Another most inconvenient truth is that grouches are found lurking everywhere, hiding behind such disguises as husbands, wives, neighbors, waiters, you name-it.  And inasmuch as there are crabby clerks, we all know that there are also crabby customers.

Grouches are frequently cited on freeways, revengefully raging at you if you dare to drive within the speed limit.  And I might mention that we seniors especially need to guard against possible grumpiness because so often we feel stressed and unhappy about declining health, financial resources, mobility, or independence.

What makes a grouch grouchy?

Simply put, it’s a choice, very much like choosing to brush your teeth.  Temporary grouchiness is forgivable, when a grouch begs forgiveness and promises to weed your garden or rub your neck.

There are, in fact, so many grouches in the world that Emmy-Grammy award-winning writer-composer Jeffry A. Moss was inspired to create one of the most famous grouches of all time, the Sesame Street television muppet character, “Oscar the Grouch,” who became famous for his “Go away and leave me alone” line.

     Punishment for grouches:  

Personally, I wouldn’t waste my valuable time or money doing a make-over on a grouch, but at the very least, shouldn’t they be assigned to a 12-step recovery program where they’re pumped full of sunshine daily and pressed to list three things to be grateful for every morning when they open their eyes?

     How to deal with a grouch:

     Accept the fact that you may not be able to change a grouch because it is very likely that “grouchitis” has more to do with them than you.  But you can control your reaction to them by staying calm and focused on the business at hand.  Remain polite despite their rudeness or you could make matters even worse.

Now on the off-chance that you plan to mail or show this column to a grouch who figures prominently in your life, let me be of help by saying to them, “Dear whiner, complainer, and other victims of the “grouchitis malady,” you know who you are.

But what you don’t know is that you’re losing out and allowing yourself to be bypassed by lots of happiness!

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