by reader Sebastian

I am sure many of you, while strolling through the isles of the supermarket, will have had to avoid the trolley of a blue rinse lady, or a curmudgeonly grey-haired spouse and fleetingly wondered: “Here am I busy mother, exploited employee — not a second to spare in the day — what do these ancients do in the course of the day?” Well I am here to tell you. 

Before launching into the substance of this account — some of us ancients have even learned about the internet (despite what TV1 News says) — I make a disclaimer. I am neither a blue rinsed lady nor a greying spouse. But last Friday when in the supermarket a little girl did say to her mother, from her illegal perch in the Pak and Save trolley, “Look Mummy at that ancient man”. I was in the vicinity at the critical moment and having heard this cry of amazement turned and looked, but in vain to see a person conforming to that appellation. 

However, and solely for the purposes of this missive, I will step into the shoes of an ancient and describe how I whiled away an hour or so.

It all began when the trustee of the property in which I have the enormous pleasure of residing sent me the notice for paying the insurance premium- some $3,100. He asked if I was happy to pay. I said, lets get another quote. So this is where the real story begins. 

Being computer literate (though only to a very small point), and having, for the first time in my life taken notice of a TV advert, it saying that AA Insurance was the best insurer in NZ, I thought “Lets give ‘em a try.” I went online. Having answered 14 of their cumbersome questions a sign came up saying that I had to forgo getting an online quote. I actually had to speak to a person. 

Thence I rang 0800 and came across a charming boy who proceeded to waltz me through the questionnaire, apologizing frequently for the imposition this was placing on me. I responded by saying that his dulcet tones made it an absolute delight to answer his questions. (I say boy because the timbre of the voice was extremely youthful.  It also reflected an educated mind and an appreciation of the beauty of the English language, that even mere form questions could not completely annihilate. Boy, because he was naively genuine in his concern about the consumption of my time by mere bureaucratic requirements).

So, having had a pleasurable aural experience for fifteen or so minutes our talking came to an end. Ben came up with the quote that whipped $1100 off the premium of $3100. I said we would switch to AA today. Ben then said he had 3 further questions. I replied saying I charged $300.00 per answer to supplementary questions, and much hilarity took place as we connived, agreeing I could say to my grandchildren I had achieved the premium reduction simply by charging for answering questions. Ben chortled agreement.

And at the conclusion of this little journey in the effluxion of time I said to Ben, “Marvelous, marvelous job, this is the best experience I have had in this semi cyberspace world, you are worthy of a 9.4 out of 10”.

Ben responded that it was a great delight to have had this brief discourse with yours truly and he would tell his management team accordingly. “Not only that Ben, tell them, ‘Sebastian considers you deserve to be shouted the best afternoon tea, as served in the Ritz in London’.” Demurely, Ben said he would pass that on as well as saying how much he enjoyed our interaction (final proof of his education and psychological depth and maturity).

So that is how ancients, oldies, spend their time, trying to spread a little sunshine.