Ok, so I am old, so my hearing and my eyesight is not what it once was. Yet every day, someone wants to sell me something, but they don’t know who I am. Businesses approach things from their point of view; even when trying to sell something to me. You would think that they would focus on me; not only their targeted customer, but for at least another 20 years, their customer who has the most money. In 20 years, old people will be broke; today many of us have money. Businesses catering to the old should realize this.
My wife bought a device for her mother that allows her mother to locate lost things; purse, glasses, keys, etc. It is a great idea; but, the only instructions are on the side of a 2 x 2 inch box in type so small that you can’t even read it with a magnifying glass. And, if your purse is lost, which it frequently is with old people; the device to locate the purse is usually in the purse. Go figure!
What is even worse; from an old person’s point-of-view, is that they have to ask someone for help thus admitting to old age.
Are there any geriatric tech writers? Look at the instructions that come with something you have bought. Were those instructions written with you in mind?
Don’t forget businesses that have receptionists who have such a low voice that you can’t hear them; or, more common, those that rattle off the information so fast, that you don’t get it.
How would you explain to your mirror how to put something together; or, how to operate something so that you could understand it? Even harder than explaining it to a mirror, is explaining it to a business. I especially like the low voice-tone and talking speed in audiologists’ offices. You would think an audiologist would realize that the only reason that you were there was because you were deaf. But they don’t seem to realize that when talking to you.
Restaurants forget, that while noise may increase turnover and profits, noisy places do not attract old people. Twice this week we have decided against restaurants because of their noise level. And, 50 % of restaurants fail in the first year and 75% in the first five years. Meanwhile, the number of old people is increasing. Restaurants that play music play it for the young help; they forget that two-thirds of their customers are over 65 and like to talk to each other, not listen to some loud off-putting music.
I could go on, and probably will, about services and products for old people being developed by people who are not old and who don’t understand old people.
You are traveling; and, of course you have to eat. Mostly it is too expensive and probably not good for you; but, at your age who cares?
I am interested in places and ideas for eating well but frugally. This means getting the most for your money, having a new experience and maybe meeting new people. And, as always, you may have a story to tell. No one is interested if you ate at a chain; however, going to a church supper in a small NM town will give you a story to tell.
Share a plate. Old people eat less. Most places will let you do it, though some charge an extra $3 or so. Always split a desert.
I have tried the following:
1. Eat at Whole Foods or other gourmet grocery store. You get good food in reasonable quantities and can eat it in the store or take it with you. You will also feel good since it is organic, humanly raised and free of additives. Your grandchildren will love it.
2. Try a university. Parking may be a problem; however, they usually have salad bars and other interesting menu items. Sometimes you can even get a beer or glass of wine.
3. Hospitals have gotten better, at least in their cafeterias. I can remember when it was all fried, but now they have salad bars and other items that reflect their “dedication” to health. Don’t stay too long as you might catch something; they are places to avoid except for a quick meal.
4. Frequently, you can visit an assisted living facility and in exchange for listening to the sales pitch, get a free meal. This would be my last resort in most cases, having seen some of the food.
5. Some chains have reasonably priced healthy food. If you see a Chipotle or a Subway, stop. Two of you can share a burrito or a 12 in. sub, for about $6 to $8.
6. Picnic. Stop at a store and buy what you need for a picnic. Remember that left-overs may be a problem.
7. Frequent bed and breakfasts. Have a big breakfast, an apple for lunch, and a nice dinner with a glass of wine.
8. Service clubs, if you are a member. Watch for signs giving the day and place as you enter a town; or, go on-line.
9. If you belong to a private club, golf club, health club, or tennis club, check them out for reciprocity. Usually they can arrange for you to be a guest and use the facilities in another town. There will probably be a small fee.
10. Church suppers are always interesting; especially in small rural towns.
11. Small town events can give you interesting food.Try the Ramp Festival in Cullowhee, NC; or the matanza in Belen, NM.
12. Never forget museums; especially if you are in Europe. Some of the best food I have had has been at museums in Madrid, Vienna and London. The same applies to US museums. At least look at them.
Pick up small town papers. Visit your old home towns. Use the internet. Try something new. Check out small town chambers of commerce. Explore.
On Sundays from 9-3, May 4 – Nov. 2, you can visit the Rail Yards Market near downtown Albuquerque, NM. The site is next to the tracks and is in a huge old Santa Fe Railway repair shop. The market has over one hundred vendors and artists. It draws thousands of people. Outside there is plenty of free parking and a line of food trucks.
Inside, which is free, you find artists, bakeries, local produce, music and crowds. Turn down your hearing aid.
Rail buffs, and most other people, especially those of us who can remember riding the train to college, will be fascinated by the interior of the Santa Fe Railway Repair Shop, now abandoned, waiting a new life, and used as the setting for a number of movies.
To learn more about the rail yards visit the City of Albuquerque web page.
Maybe you are looking for a second career in your retirement. Central New Mexico Community College in conjunction with the Street Food Institute offers a course in “Street Food.” Maybe you should apply. Visit Craigs List to find food trucks for sale.
The bottom line is that for a few hours on Sunday morning, you can’t go wrong, and you will see a part of American History. Drive through the surrounding streets and see “new town,” which came into being with the arrival of the rail road over a hundred years ago. Then compare it to “Old Town.”
Frank’s may be out of your comfort zone, but that will change, once you eat there. From the stools at the counter to the breakfast specials, it could be any small town in the mid-west or SouthWest. $1.75 for two eggs, hash browns and toast any week-day morning; and all the coffee you can drink for $1.85. The only place I have been where the coffee is more than the breakfast, but still reasonable, so leave a nice tip.
It is clean, but old and friendly, just like me. Don’t miss it. You can always go to the chains. Look at the photos on the web site and you will see what I mean. And, check out the menu.
3843 E. Pima St
Tucson, AZ 85716
TWO (Traveling While Old) requires food. I don’t eat in fancy restaurants; and, I am cheap and dress “old.” McDonald’s is good for the “senior coffee” and the free Wi-Fi.
Off-the-wall alternatives are available. Here are ten to consider. Use the internet to find times and locations.
1. Hospitals: Long hours, usually healthful food, but almost always a fried option. In Albuquerque try University of New Mexico Hospitals, cafeteria.
2. Universities: They have to feed students, faculty and staff and have a variety of food and long hours. The prices are reasonable and it is fun to see what you looked like fifty years ago. You can also find cheap movies, lectures and other activities. Parking is a pain, consider the bus; many have free shuttles to free parking. Certainly out of your comfort zone.
3. Museums: The US is catching up to Europe with museum cafes and restaurants. Visit exhibits and discover special events. When you search for the museum, check for cafes and menus. Plan a meal there; and, look for unique menus and specials tied to art. It may surprise you. And, frequently they have wine.
4. Cooking Schools: Every large town has a cooking school; attend, learn something and eat what you cook. I took my 14- year-old granddaughter to Paris and the thing she seemed to like best was the cooking school. She learned to make macaroons and received a box to take home to her parents. In Paris, sign up in advance.
5. Food Trucks: You can spot them parked on vacant lots, along the street, or at shopping centers. They are fancier than the usual hot dog carts found in downtown areas. Web pages list food trucks and give you a location and time. In Albuquerque on Wednesday noon they gather at the Talin Market, in the International Zone. The market is worth a visit just to see the variety of foods. Don’t be afraid. Move outside your comfort zone. Food trucks offer a variety of foods, often cooked by creative new chefs who can’t afford a fixed site.
7. Senior Centers: All towns have Senior Centers. You can usually find a cup of coffee, breakfast and lunch, although you may have to order lunch a day in advance. You can eat cheap food with other old people. There is usually a bulletin board that lists things to do; day trips, computer help, etc. You may have to join, but that is usually cheap. I have never had any problem just walking in and looking around; having a twenty cent cup of coffee and a twenty-five cent box of popcorn. I have also discovered cheap trips where I don’t have to do the driving. Think Crown Point rug auction.
8. Whole Foods: Groceries, but also – sandwiches – salad bar – prepared foods and a place to sit and eat. The food is good, varied and available all day. Good for a coffee and a bagel in the morning; sandwiches for lunch, salad bar, and a whole variety of food for dinner, to eat in or take back to your motel room, along with a bottle of wine in Albuquerque and Tucson. At 73 you don’t want to be picked up for DWI after a few glasses of wine at a restaurant. Watching a movie in your hotel room with a good bottle of wine, and a variety of food from the deli is not all bad; besides they have nice deserts. Most motel rooms are quieter than restaurants.
9. Diners, Drive Ins and Dives: This show on the Food Network takes you to places all over the country. Interesting to visit, a mini-goal for your trip, and, you can always check them out on-line. I have enjoyed the ones that I have visited, both in Albuquerque and Florida.
10. Costco: If you have a card, you can’t beat the hot dog and drink for $1.50.
Look beyond the restaurants in the guide books. Experience the community and learn something new while getting interesting food at a fraction of the cost of a fancy restaurant. Besides, all of the above places are usually fairly quiet, have no music playing, and are convenient. Important if, geezer, you are old and deaf.
A final, tongue-in-cheek idea. Large Assisted Living facilities will usually give you a free meal if you listen to the sales pitch and take the tour. You should really take a look at a few of these as they are closer than you think.
Above all, consider sharing a plate; even if it costs you $3.
I am 73. I track my “real age” on realage.com, which has now become sharecare.com. The factors considered are the same ones that my doctor looks at. Even if there are questions, I do not see how you can go wrong by not smoking, losing weight, and doing things in moderation. I am not interested in living longer; but am interested in living better. I want to minimize today’s pains and problems.
Today at 73, I went onto sharecare.com and based on my answers to the questionnaire have a real age of 66.2 years.
While I feel good about this, what is more important is that on sharecare.com I can change my answers to determine if there is a benefit to making life style changes. My actual weight is 207, which resulted in a “real age” of 66.2 years. I changed the weight to 180 pounds, and came up with a “real age” of 65.7. The difference may be small but I will feel better. And, my doctor told me yesterday that I needed to lose a “few” pounds.
You can change the input and see what you need to do for a better “real age.” Try it with eating habits, smoking, drinking, etc.
I may try to update this each month which may give me incentive to go from 207 to 180.