Sunday, February 29, 2004

Who, me, an 'uncle'?

i found this on the forum page of our nation builder press today. it strikes a cord even though i'm only 25, thats incidentally 1/2 the writer's age!! haha. its all about perception and projection! haha, so erm, i may complain i'm old and i may complain about muscle pulls and even the pathetic number of pull-ups i can now do (X2)...but deep inside, there has and will always be a peter pan in me who'll never lose his youth!!! *does a pansy dandylion dance* lalala!! cmon lah wah lan eh, lim peh where got so old man...

CONCERNS over abuse of the elderly and employer discrimination strike closer to home as I pass the half-century mark on the way to the end.

Offers of help like 'Can I help you, uncle?' and 'Have a seat, uncle' are ominous. But I'm not an uncle in the age sense and I'm not old!

I may pull a muscle when over-reaching to scratch my back or react a tad slower to step over dog poo but being old or young is relative to perception, projection and progressive life expectancy.

Anyone over 30 is over the hill to every child, just as everyone under that age is still a kid to those over 40.

When I entered Primary 1, I kept wondering why a class-mate, Christopher, had his grandmother as chaperone, unlike the rest of us with a mother in tow.

Recently, Chris clarified that, at the time, his mum was forty-ish, when mine was only 26. I am now my grand-mother's age when she died in 1961 and, to me then, she was mighty old.

I have worked with those who maintained a traditional age-orientation. Some were younger than me but dressed and behaved older, as if to project their seniority and/or frailty. They would expect deference from younger colleagues and hog lighter work.

I wouldn't mind light work but to want it because of age is insulting as, to me, 'old' begins with attitude, regardless of the number of years and whether one is able-bodied.

Would shedding a feudal age-orientation evoke a healthier regard for those stigmatised as 'aunties' and 'uncles'? And equalise the rights of those deemed 'siow mei mei' (little sister) and 'siow di di' (little brother)?

Actually, attitude and endeavour, not age, should define capability and employability. Which is better: a feckless and fidgety youngster or a wizened, assiduous and reliable person, whatever his age?

Even fast-food vending is performed by not-so-fast 'aunties' and 'uncles'. And what about Rudy Boesch, the 75-year-old grandpa who returned to contend for the million-dollar prize in Survivor All Stars after failing in an earlier series?

His being voted out again, this time at the second tribal council - probably as tribe-mates saw in him a liability in inter-tribal physical competitions - shouldn't discount his exemplary contributions and tenacity.

In the words of William Hung, the celebrated American Idol wannabe: 'I gave my best already. I have no regrets!'

Anthony Lee Mui Yu

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