In order to do my job effectively there are certain places I hang out that wouldn’t make most people’s social calendars. No, I’m not a drug dealer. However, being an eldercare marketing rep is sort of like being a drug rep (the legal kind) but not nearly as sexy. Rather than using my expense account to lunch doctors and do spa pedicures with their gatekeepers, I often find myself loitering in funeral home lobbies, feeding Tom, the local nursing home’s king-sized tabby and catching reruns of Matlock at the retirement lodge. I love working with seniors. They’re smart, funny and have amazing insights into the world around us, that most of us younger folks are too busy and self-absorbed to notice.
Today was a special day. It’d been noted on my Office Max desk calendar for over a month. I was scheduled to give a presentation on nutrition to 65 potential eldercare clients at a new venue, the Mellow Oaks Senior Retreat. And then, the ultimate honor, I’d been appointed official caller of three whole BINGO games. In senior citizen culture, this means you’ve “made it,” like being awarded the key to the city or having a denture adhesive named after you.
All weekend I practiced “B-10, N-34, pause…O-69, Z-28,” modeling my voice after Renelle Williams, the California Lotto announcer on KGO.
As for my presentation, I’d also rehearsed for hours in my “did you know” kind of voice spouting facts about antioxidents, memory boosters, cancer fighting proteins and homeopathic Viagra substitutes. Shirley, the director was excited about the topic, saying that nearly all of the members were quite health conscious.
I even bought fresh blueberries, dark chocolate and edamame for audience members to snack on. The presentation would end with a two minute empassioned pitch about my company. Then they’d all burst into a standing, walker and wheelchair ovation chanting my name. So many seniors would sign up for our services that I’d run out of forms. There’d be a waiting list… and I’d be a Mellow Oaks Retreat celebrity, welcome to make speeches and call BINGO games there….. forever.
Upon my arrival, the dining room was half-filled with ornery, somewhat rowdy 80 somethings squabbling over coupons, threatening each other with scrapbooking scissors and jausting with canes. As I walked by a portly gentleman whose left arm seemed attached to his shoulder by a spring (because one minute it was down to his knees, and the next it wouldn’t quite make it to his hip), he chanted “hey, baby how bout warming up my lap for me…