Hello from Baltimore, everyone. After 2 days on the road, including stops in Chicago to see cousins and an overnight in Fremont, Ohio, I am back home for a few well-earned weeks of R & R.
Part of the reason I started this blog was to write down all the stories and experiences that have been percolating in my brain for ages so I don’t have to continually relive them and say, “gee, I wish I had written this down somewhere.
So, totally, an actual goddamn story from my actual goddamn life.
Has any older person ever told you that they (or you) suffer from CRS? Well, for those of you who don’t know, CRS is an acronym standing in for a condition known as Can’t Remember Shit. CRS affects women who write in online forums and use expressions like DH (dear husband/dear hubby) and IBS (irritable bowel syndrome/I be shittin’). It is used as an excuse for misplacing items such as keys, glasses, and dentures; for missing appointments and birthdays; or, in general, for forgetting a certain word or the rest of the sentence. Often a symbol of the wackiness of aging and senility, it is usually viewed as “cutesy” by the person using it and as a “copout” by the rest of the world.
DDS is an offshoot of that.
What exactly is DDS?
No, it has nothing to do with dentistry. I coined it, to stand in for Doesn’t Do Shit. Basically, it refers to anytime an older person feels so entitled to being waited on hand and foot that they have absolutely no interest in the feelings of other people, their time, or their willingness to help them out.
Now, I’m not knocking the elderly; most are kind, sweet, and well-mannered. They deserve help and attention, especially when it’s needed. Most of the time, when an elderly person asks for something, they try to help as much as they can, or are at least gracious of your efforts and apologetic for taking your time.
Here’s an example of DDS:
For two consecutive summers, I worked as PR for a local theatre festival. I heard about the position via word of mouth, and when I went to apply, I was basically handed the job (yes, a job; it came with a small honorarium) on a silver platter and told about the (soon-to-be) previous PR person, an older lady whom I’ll call Trudy. According to the head of the festival, Trudy was not only a bit old (read: grandmother of 3), but a bit…old school. She had been working on this festival for almost its entire existence as its publicist, and her idea of publicity involved telephone calls and snail mail. Yes, snail mail. In the 21st century. She did not even own a computer; she typed up everything on a typewriter, with the excuse that “I don’t do e-mail, that’s for young people,” yet she’s a publicist. A PUBLICIST.
No wonder I had barely heard of this festival, and it was 25 years old already.
Basically, they needed a change, and fast.
Getting wind of this, however, Trudy was not prepared to go down without a fight. She begged and pleaded to be reinstated with “you’re replacing me, replacing me!” She even convinced one of the directors to continue allowing her to do her PR, even though she had been explicitly told not to. If we were going to keep this little play festival going, we needed to do so with more than $50.00 in the bank account, which is approximately what we had. Money comes from ticket sales, and tickets need people to buy them, and people come via PR; clearly, somebody had not been doing a very good job.
So, that first summer, it was a continual battle for me. We would have biweekly committee meetings, and somehow, she usually managed to show up and sit there sadly. However, she didn’t drive. I honestly don’t know how she got there; probably a taxi, but usually a ride from a family member or some big-hearted committee member. And generally, if you’re in a position where you need transportation, the thing to do is arrange it beforehand, both ways. Every meeting, without fail, she would realize, “oh, I don’t have a way of getting home.” Rather than calling a taxi to pick her up, or call one of her many children or other family members, she would beg for a ride either home or to a taxi stand from one of us. I would usually duck out of the meetings as soon as they were done so I wouldn’t be stuck with what we would call “Trudy duty.”
One time, however, one of the other committee members, a kind woman who usually moonlighted as Trudy’s chauffeur, had to attend another meeting or something and asked me if I would be on “Trudy duty” for the night. I said yes, not knowing what I had gotten myself into.
The meeting ended, and everyone jetted. I told Trudy to wait out front and that I’d be back to pick her up. With a quickly-whispered “thank you” from my friend (the chauffeur, not Trudy) I headed out and returned a few minutes later with my car. She gets in the passenger door, and we sit there.
And we sit.
And I ask her, “So, where am I dropping you off?”
Trudy goes, “Can you take me home?”
Me: “No, that’s a little too far for me to go tonight [note – she gave me her address, and it would have been quite a long trip out of my way and it was already getting], so where can I take you to catch a cab.”
Trudy: “I don’t know.”
Okay, Trudy. You’re about three times my age, and you’ve lived in this city all your life. You come downtown regularly, and you never drive, since you don’t do that. You either get rides or take taxis. In fact, you are usually in this neighborhood when you come downtown, so you should know how to get from point A to point B, or at least direct people how to get there. And here I am, being gracious of my time and energy, to take you at least part of the way home.
And you don’t even know where to get a taxi?
I ask her, “Where do you usually get a taxi?”
Trudy: “Um, there’s a taxi stand somewhere around here…”
Me: “Do you know what street it’s on?”
This is getting ridiculous. Finally, Trudy contributes something, even if it is sort of a command.
Trudy: “Just drop me off down by the Inner Harbor, by one of the big hotels, and I’ll get a taxi there.”
Me: “Which one? How do I get there?”
Trudy: “I don’t know. Whichever.”
Anyway, I drive her over to the Harbor, navigating the way myself, and just as I get to a hotel, she goes “Oh, no, not this one! That one over there!” So I do that, and she gets out of the car without so much as a thank you or an offer to repay me for gas money, for something that she should have honestly planned beforehand, with either a relative or a friend, instead of constantly relying on the kindness of others to delay their lives and wait on you hand and foot. Just because you have gray hair does not mean you get to use people and be treated like a queen while bringing nothing to the table.
Readers, don’t be a Trudy. Say no to DDS and do shit. Have some forethought, be appreciative of others’ time and energy, and for goodness sakes, offer to help them while they do it for you.
Anyone who is reading this who is familiar with the Festival or the Baltimore theatre scene in general probably knows who I’m talking about. I’m not embarrassed, though, about being so frank with this story. Given Trudy’s stance on technology, I doubt she’ll ever read this.
6 thoughts on “DDS: What It Is, and What to Look Out For”
I think her age has impaired her memory or it may be that she wanted you to take her home and got a lot of “I don’t know’s” because she liked you (you forgot to tell if she’s a widow or not). Just for laughs. Btw, I admire your being frank(we share the same thing).
I’m pretty sure that this is her usual modus operandi, given the fact that one by one everyone gave up on her. I forgot to add that by the next summer, she’d decided to “retire” from this practically volunteer position even though technically, she had been ousted the previous year. Some people just operate on their own schedules.
I hope I won’t meet a boss or workmate diagnosed with that DDS syndrome by the time I shall have worked.
I’d say, set firm limits on what you will and will not do. And be sure to lead by example and always offer something 🙂
Thanks for that nugget of wisdom, Jacob. 🙂
This Trudy is unbelievable! People who think we’re all at their service are so agh…