On the morning of the 2nd, my group and I observed behavior regarding ageism and adultism at the Starbucks location in the Circle. It was difficult for me at first to distinguish what sort of behavior could fall under either social construct. I suppose this had to do more with me assuming that the location in which we observed needed to have more variety in the age of its occupants. As time went on though, I began to notice a few minor incidents in which the behaviors of younger people (aged under 25 and predominantly teen-aged in this case) and older people (aged over 25) differed in what I think are interesting ways.
From the very beginning of my observation, I noticed that there was a group of seemingly teen-aged couples occupying a longer table to my far right. They all seemed to be friends with each other and at first they did nothing that really struck me as important to take note of. As I looked around, I thought it was interesting that, with the exception of one older couple, the “older” customers in the establishment were there sitting alone at different tables whereas the “younger” customers were all there in groups of two or more.
I found this interesting because it made it look like as if as people grew older, it was okay to be seen out spending time by themselves and it seemed like they gave this no second thought. On the contrary, the younger customers seemed to be more comfortable when they were with another person or group of people having conversation. As I observed this taking place, I found myself wondering why this was the way it is. Is it because older people feel more comfortable with themselves and that this in turn makes them more feel more comfortable being seen alone?
How come younger people seem to not be able to have this luxury of feeling okay being seen places by themselves? Another situation that arose that I noticed seems to happen more among younger people than with older folk is congregating in areas that block the path to places others are most likely in need to get to. At Starbucks, the young group made up of couples got up and stood in front of the doors to the restrooms for a longer length of time than is considered normal and then proceeded to walk away from the bathroom and block the main entrance instead.
This reminded me a lot of my experience in high school when I was a freshman. I remember going through orientation and one of the few pieces of information that actually stuck in my head was the term “frosh clumps”. Basically this meant that the sophomores and upperclassmen could tell who the freshman of the year were because they would always move around in groups and stand in the middle of the hallway or main pathway in the cafeteria causing an inconvenience to everyone who needed to get through.
I think this relates to my previous observation regarding how younger customers at Starbucks stayed in the building longer if they were there with another person or group of people. Based on my personal feelings regarding the subject, I think that younger people tend to stay in groups because sometimes when seen alone, others tend to be labeled them as “loners”. Usually, this label is not all that positive. Whenever I hear that someone is a “loner”, the first few words that pop into my head are “weird”, “awkward”, and “outsider”. I find myself wondering what they are doing all alone because the norm for me is seeing groups of teens together.
When I see someone my age sitting alone, I automatically assume something is wrong because it does not seem right and I believe it may have to do with the words and ideas that pop into my head when I hear or see “alone”. And I also believe that I think this way because of how | saw my peers in school react and stay away from the people labeled “loners”. It is something I do without thinking much of it. On the other hand, when older people are seen out and about on their own, I tend to assume that they are just doing “grownup” things and mind my own business because when I see older people I assume that they know what they are doing.
I think that this is also something that I learned from others as I grew up: grown ups know what they are doing, so why question what I see? The last observation that I will write about is about how around halfway through my observation time, I watched a scene unfold between and old disabled woman and a younger woman that looked to be in her early 20s. What happened is that the disabled woman (who was in an electric wheelchair) decided not to buy anything while in line and made the effort to back up out of the way and let the younger woman go ahead of her.
The woman made no eye or physical contact at all; she merely stepped out of the way and looked straight ahead. I saw the older woman’s “thank you” go unnoticed and no one moved to open the door for her on the way out. It did not particularly bother me that no one opened the door for her because I am sure she was fine doing that on her own, but what irked me was the fact that it seems like the younger woman completely ignored the older woman’s existence. It reminded me of how in the ageism chapter it says “The individual elder is affected by… social and cultural attitudes and values… ” (Larabee, n. d. , p. 572).
I believe that usually society sees older people as being “dependent” like the chapter says towards the middle section of page 572 and that because of this belief, they need to be helped more. I think that what I saw happen between the two women was the complete opposite of what is usually seen in society. I had expected to see the younger woman to open the door for her and give into ageism or to at least acknowledge the older woman’s presence, but this was not the case. It bothered me a great deal because no one should be treated as if they do not exist no matter the state of their ability, their age, or their ender.
In summary, I do not believe that I was able to find very many specific examples of ageism and adultism during my observation at Starbucks that related directly to what was discussed in class. I believe this happened because as I reflect on my personal thoughts regarding the behavior of the group of teenagers to be kind of adultist. I feel this was the case because I saw a lot of their behavior as annoying and blamed it on their age. I think that if I had seen a group of adults do the same, I would not have minded as much.
I think that another reason it was harder to see ageism and adultism at the location is because the people that go there are usually around the same age. There were no interactions between a child and an adult or between a teenager and an adult, so it made it harder for me to connect it to our class discussions. I do believe that I was able to take note of differences in behavior when comparing older and younger people. I do also think that my observations can relate to the constructs of ageism and adultism because of the way that I perceived the behaviors of the teenagers through an adultist lens.