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This column reflects the opinion of the writer. To learn about the differences between a news story and an opinion column, click here.

Opinion >  Column

Paul Turner: Growing older is alarming

Survey after survey shows that readers of the print newspaper tend to be older people.


I’m not suggesting that makes me uniquely qualified to speak to these good folks. But you know what they say. If the comfortable shoe fits, wear it.

That came to mind Sunday afternoon. My wife and I were going over to some friends’ house for pumpkin pie. Just as we pulled into their driveway and parked, I somehow managed to set off our car’s astonishingly loud security alarm.

There’s nothing like announcing that you have arrived — in style.

You really ought to hear this horn. It’s something else. Sounds like a device that ought to be found on an aircraft carrier’s flight deck.

Now usually, turning that alarm off is a simple matter. But Sunday, it would not stop blaring, no matter what buttons I pushed on the key pad/remote control.

Some kids across the street stopped playing in their yard so they could gawk at the high-decibel spectacle suddenly visited upon their usually quiet neighborhood.

The cacophony seemed to go on forever before it inexplicably stopped.

What’s that old saying? There are no atheists in cars with an alarm going off?

At one point during what I now refer to as the Oxbow Incident, I had a thought.

It was this: This is exactly the sort of thing that used to happen to my parents. Is this what it has come to for me?

I had to admit that when I see someone fumbling to turn off a car alarm with a mind of its own, that unfortunate individual almost always fits the print newspaper-reading demographic profile.

Which brings me to a question for my aging peers. When did you realize that you were, uh, “that way”?

You know, when did you turn into your parents?

When you came to the conclusion that you don’t like driving at night? When you first noted that an increasing percentage of conversations with your friends dealt with medical issues? When your every utterance seemed to produce eye-rolling all around you? When you stopped insisting that prunes be referred to as “plums”?

Reader feedback

Nancy Meuler answered a question posed Sunday.

“I probably shouldn’t admit this out loud, but the one Spokane obsession I simply don’t care about is Gonzaga basketball. It doesn’t interest me in the least. Now I’ll probably have to watch out for lynch mobs, but there it is.”

A number of readers had opinions about pumpkin pie. Here are just a few.

“Gag!” wrote Linda Waud.

Fritz Stout loves it. His wife, Maggie, does not.

“You’re right,” he wrote. “It’s the ‘texture’ thing.”

Karen Botker said there are worse seasonal staples and offered an example. “Hallmark holiday movies.”

Basil Steinle offered this. “Sorry Paul, the holiday pie that divides people is not pumpkin pie, it’s MINCE pie! Mince pie is the fruitcake of the pie world.”

The kids are all right

Whether you choose to dispense candy to trick-or-treaters is your business. But if you don’t do it because you have something against modern children, I have to challenge your assessment.

We’ve been handing out candy at our house for years and years. And the kids who have come to our front door have been unfailingly polite.

We don’t get a lot of Halloween action. But the children who do show up at our house always reward us with delightfully high spirits and loud expressions of thanks.

What’s more, they are truly accomplished at having their picture taken. These kids, the most photographed generation, have had their picture taken so many times that the emergence of a camera phone prompts the ones without masks to reflexively strike a pose. It’s really sort of funny.

I’ve been asked

So here are the differences between being in a newsroom and working at home that I have observed so far.

You have to provide your own swearing at home.

The dress code is about the same.

More control of the thermostat at home.

Eavesdropping is not the same at home.

Chances that a cat will come in and plop down on your keyboard are statistically greater at home.

Fewer meetings (not that I actually went to many meetings).

You miss seeing your friends.

Access to snacks at home.

The blank computer screen looks pretty much the same in both places.

If you feel the urge to interrupt what you’re doing to go yell “Get off my lawn!” you just have to get up and walk to the front door.

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