In some precise point of the dirty passages of a crowdy underground station in London… the same stain remains.
When you see it for the first time, it seems like water, juice, or a fizzy drink from some thoughtless and non-English person who threw it there.
But the very next day the spot will be in exactly the same place. Not a bit more to the right; not a bit more to the left, but there. Right there.
If this someone decides to go right there at 7 O´Clock in the evening, they will discover a man. The man who does not stop cleaning the stain. The same spot, everyday, at the same time.
With an old and gloomy glance, the head hanging down but the body straight, that man tries to remove the stain that still remains. He knows it is impossible to make it vanish; that it must be some kind of grease, and he knows for sure that it drips all the time in an invisible way though.
However, that is his job. Someone tells him to do it and he does it. He could never even think of complaining. Who knows; perhaps one day, if he spoke out against his task, they would fire him. Besides, why would he ever protest? He does not care when scrapping that spot. In fact, all day he is cleaning everything in one wipe without any attention, without returning to the same place. On the contrary, that point… That point is different. He knows that there is something there waiting for him; only for him. Something immovable, eternal. He does not care about anything else in his work. Only to try to remove the stain, without knowing that deep down he does not want to clean it.
He is unaware that there is a colleague of his that, everyday, and always just before 7 O´Clock, spills oil in that very point of the dirty corridors of a crowdy underground station of London.
In ancient societies elderly people were considered sage and respectable. They were the most experienced ones. Humans have not got a limited growing, so it was sensible to realize that the elderly were more knowledgeable. That was a long time ago.
In modern society few appreciate these details. Advanced technology seems to play an important role in an unfortunate situation. It looks like the new sources of information people have access to means people have many more possibilities of getting to know everything, in a minimum of time.
Nobody needs grandpa’s help anymore; they can surf the net and get a better and faster answer.
The world has reached a frenetic rhythm which the elderly cannot be adapted to. A different world in which they have been obliged to live in and one they do not feel part of it. Society has become impersonal and alienating. This is not a matter of bad luck, it is because we have created it. We live governed by the rules of functionalism, by which a person is important depending on their function in society. Where are elderly people placed nowadays then? What is their function? The anonymous system we have contributed to creating has got the answer: just to disturb.
That makes me think of the materialism we are involved in too. We have become comfortable and relaxed with ourselves and do not make any effort anymore. In the past we would have never spoken down to them. Whereas nowadays some people actually yell: “My dear pensioner and father, good trip to the old people´s home!”. Becoming mature has become a problem, for sure. It looks like Hemmingway was right when he said in words of that old fisherman: “Nobody should be alone in their elderly age but it is unavoidable”.
However, we should be aware that elderly people have got a lot to do with tradition, and tradition allows us to connect the present with the past. We cannot understand the present without knowing about what was there before. The tree will have worse looking leaves if we damage the roots. And the respect is a very fair virtue: If one does not respect the past generations, the coming ones will not respect the current one. That we are treating the elderly disgracefully is a fact, but everyday there is a moment when we can make a change. Let Hemmingway be wrong.