Three old men walk into a memory clinic to get tested. The doctor asks the first man, “What’s three times three?” The man answers, “286.”. Then he asks the second man “What’s three times three?” The man answers, “Tuesday.” Then he asks the third man “What’s three times three?” The man answers, “9.”

“Great!” said the doctor, “How did you get that?” The man answers, “By subtracting Tuesday from 286.”

(Brief pause for groans.) As one gets up in years (77, in my case), humor helps one survive memory lapses and the other vicissitudes of aging.

Sometimes, though, you just have to get some things off your chest. I try to keep this column upbeat, except when blasting Trump, but today I’ll indulge in a few grumpy old man rumblings. Here goes:

The scourge of self-scanning check-out systems. Sure, it might — repeat, might — save a supermarket money by reducing labor costs; but it puts some people out of a job; increases the frustration of old fossils like me; and, most important, reduces the human interactions which create a sense of community.

Loud restaurants or coffee shops. Most people like to engage in a conversation at a restaurant or coffee shop without having to yell to be heard. At least this person does.

Apathetic voters. An appallingly low 56 percent of Americans of voting age voted in the 2016 presidential election. That’s disgusting, especially considering the millions of dollars spent on campaigning and advertising. In fact, America ranks near the bottom in voting rate compared with other developed nations.

A related grump: There’s no good reason that presidential campaigns should begin nearly two years before the election. Or that we should decide elections by the electoral college vote rather the popular vote. Some people

argue that small states would be ignored if the electoral college vote were disbanded. I say, “hogwash!” Let the majority of people decide the presidency.

The demise of truth-telling as a virtue. Donald Trump lies countless times every day, yet millions of Americans still support him, many of them enthusiastically, his lies be damned. Since when did lying become an American virtue? Another related grump: Since when did the news media become “the enemy of the people?” Maybe it was about the same time the bedrock principles of the Constitution became disposable in the minds of all too many Americans.

The profits-comes-first mentality. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is happy to take paid political ads, even demonstrably false ones, never mind that such ads undermine our democracy by impacting our elections. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey took the high road on this issue, announcing that his company would no longer accept paid political ads. Still another related grump: The lack of commitment to dealing with climate change, again on the theory that’s what good for business (read profits) is good for America. Given today’s GOP hard stance against environmental regulations, it’s hard to believe that the Environmental Protection Agency began under a Republican president (Richard Nixon).

The forgotten thank-you note. I count myself among the many people around my age who don’t understand why so many younger people and children neglect to send thank-you notes. (Even a thank you email or text would do.). Thank-you notes take little time and are much appreciated. (Note; I fault the parents here, not the children.)

The political divide in our country. We tend to demonize those on the other half of the divide — mea culpa — while not trying to understand their point of view. It takes a real effort to try to find common ground, but we must do so if we are to make America kind and decent again.

Well, I’ve run out of grumps and gas. In next week’s column, I’ll return to the upbeat stuff. And with luck, I might even hear a good joke or two to pass along.

David Treadwell, a Brunswick writer, welcomes commentary and suggestions for future “Just a Little Old” columns [email protected]

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: