I know that I shouldn’t have reacted the way that I did, but really! I admit that I got a little irritated and perhaps said something slightly unfortunate, but I feel justified. Sort of. A bit.
I probably overreacted, with the benefit of hindsight.
Let me explain and put it all in context but promise me that this will go no further.
I had managed to walk in my old trainers for some three hours over the weekend, which was a mistake.
Whilst I had enjoyed a lovely stroll by the side of the Dubai Canal, I had rubbed the skin raw on both feet as a consequence.
At work the following day, I had ventured outside to get some air and to purchase a couple of those plasters which are good for blisters.
My feet were rather sore. My ankles were a little bit swollen. My work shoes hurt, as they weren’t very flexible.
So, I had been to the bathroom and had taken off my shoes and socks and had placed these plasters over the raw skin on my ankles.
I had then gone to the elevator to ascend to the fifth floor of the building in which I work.
I had eyed the staircase and decided that I would not ascend via this route, which I did reasonably frequently, as a healthy alternative.
Good decision, I assured myself, as I entered the elevator car.
Just as the doors were closing, an arm entered and held the doors apart. Two young men came in, chatting amicably, and nodded an acknowledgement my way.
They were telling each other off and teasing each other for not taking the stairs and at least trying to keep fit.
They were both, I must add at this juncture, a tad plump.
They looked at me and both raised their eyebrows as if to ask me to contribute to their conversation.
Somewhere between the first and second floor, I said that I would commonly have used the stairs, but I had not, as I had a sore foot.
This was where the plumper of the two (and they were both plumper than me) made a serious error of judgement.
He said, and I quote (the words are seared on my memory), ‘well, at your age, it is OK to use the elevator’.
By the time we had reached the third floor, I had made my feelings known.
Perhaps, as I say, with hindsight, a little more bluntly than I needed to.
I believe I mentioned our relative sizes and may have made some connection between age and politeness, but I do not clearly recall.
In any event, by the time the elevator slowed for the fourth floor, where the two chastened, apologetic, embarrassed and still plump youths alighted, the issue had been dealt with.
They backed away from me, ensuring that I did not engage in a physical assault, but limited myself to verbal vitriol.
I emerged from the elevator on the fifth floor feeling a little ashamed of my inability to not react to unintended rudeness.
Nevertheless, I think they will pause before they make a comment about age to a white-haired slimmer person.
l Mike Gaunt is a former assistant headmaster at St Christopher’s School, Bahrain – [email protected]