Old folks on fixed income suffer with rapid inflation

March 15, 2022 called the Old Men of the Mountain to breakfast at Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh. The 15th was shortly after the time change, which may be the reason for taking so long for the OFs to gather for breakfast.

The early risers were asking themselves, “Where is everybody?”

Slowly the OFs began to straggle in and the restaurant began to fill up with the OFs and others.

Almost as soon as the OFs arrived, the opening conversation was on the price of gas and prices in general. Just by the title of this little report, to keep the law off the backs of some of the members, the opening descriptive word is “old.”

That is a good indication of how the income of the group is arrived at; it is basically a fixed income that was fixed many years ago and adjusted somewhat for inflation, but nothing like what is being experienced now. This really causes some planning on living expenses by many old folks.

One OF mentioned that rising prices were expected, but in gradual increments, nothing like now. This OF used one quick example of how much it must cost to fill the tank of a tractor trailer and if we are talking a large fleet of trucks — wow! There is a chunk of change.

They (“Who are they?” one OF asked. The answer was, there is always one wise guy, whoever “they” are just fill in your own blank, you know who “they” are) say we can’t burn wood, we can’t burn coal, so what are we supposed to do, freeze? 

“Go electric,” one OF mentioned and arrive at that by wind, sun, hydro, but not by burning something.

Not only is it the shock of gas, but the price of the OFs latest power bill. One OF was wondering where this all began. It is not that some of these bills eased up by a few percentage points, but some seemed to go from high to ridiculously high in one billing period. One OF thought maybe all the big-wigs at the big power companies needed another mansion all at once.

An OF had a good suggestion concerning everyone living north of the Mason Dixon line. He felt those people should be moved south of the Mason Dixon line at government expense, then there would not be such a fuss about heating oil or gasoline; we would let the sun do it all.

“Too simple,” another OF said, and this OF thought it was slowly being done anyway. If you go south or southwest you find people there who have moved from New York, Canada, Michigan, etc.


Daylight Saving

This scribe knows there were other topics but in the scribe’s notes are eight entries: Prices, gas, travel, guessing (?), painting, fuel oil, waitress, Ukraine — that is it.

There is a note on time change, but that was quick. The basic thought was: Why mess with changing the time? Leave it alone.

A little research showed that Daylight Saving Time started in 1918. Apparently, it was originally considered by none other than Benjamin Franklin (in the 18th Century!) who thought sleeping late in the summer was a waste of productive time and the extra hour of sunlight in the evening would reduce candle consumption.

So the time was changed for farmers a long time ago, but the light bulb changed all that so let the cows and clocks be. One old farmer said, “We never changed the time; we went on cow time.”


Creatures of habit

The OMOTM are creatures of habit, the word “guessing” was brought on by the waitress saying to one OF just as the OF was about to order, “Don’t tell me, let me guess and see if I am right.”

She guessed and she was. There must be a competition in Middleburgh because the waitress in the Middleburgh Diner also does a pretty good guessing job.

However, at Mrs. K’s, many of the OFs don’t even have to open their mouths; the waitress will bring breakfast out, put it in front of the OFs and the OFs will start eating and never know they didn’t order anything but thought they did.


What is a patient portal?

Then there is another thing that has to do with the word “old” and “old folks,” which the OMOTM have mentioned before — computers and smartphones. So many people think that everyone has a smartphone or a computer but often they don’t.

One OF said, “Try calling a doctor’s office to just make an appointment.”

The menu first says, “If this is an emergency, hang up and dial 9-1-1.”

Then the robot on the phone directs the caller to the patient portal. Whoops! To many seniors, this is a big confusing issue.

What is a patient portal? Some of the OFs who have one feel the thing is so complicated that it doesn’t work, or the OF doesn’t understand it. All the OF wants to do is make a simple appointment.

The OFs say not all offices are like that. There are some offices with a way out so the OF can actually speak to a person after puzzling his way through a lengthy menu.

There has to be a better way that is not so complicated. One OF mentioned he was led to understand all this electronic stuff would make things better. Well, for him it is so confusing the OF hates to call his doctor. Talk about driving up the OF’s blood pressure — all the OF has to do is call his doctor’s office.

Those Old Men of the Mountain who are glad that it is not necessary to call the restaurants for an appointment are: Joe Rack, Mark Traver, Wally Guest, Harold Guest, Glenn Patterson, Roger Shafer, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Bill Lichliter, Jake Herzog, Ken Parkes, Elwood Vanderbilt, Dave Hodgetts, Bob Donnelly, Herb Bahrmann, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, John Dabrvalskes, Paul Guidon, and me.