Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

I’d Rather Not Be a VIP

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I found myself in a situation today… Where I got special and exclusive treatment that helped me finish my business in 15 mins without standing in lines (a huge achievement in Cairo) while I saw so many elderly men and women who could barely walk, having to queue up in the cold then wait their turn in lines. It’s a coincidence that today there were that many elderly people but regardless.

I should not be the VIP. These elderly men and women should have gotten the VIP treatment. Yes, I am glad I was privileged enough to finish quickly so I could get to work on time… But standing in a queue would have been less of a hardship for me. If a place is capable of giving exclusive treatment to some people, then the elderly should also automatically qualify for that treatment..

I remember seeing in the US and UK all kinds of discounts and special things for people above 60 (and although 60 is really not that old, people’s health is different and some people can really benefit from special treatment at a point in their lives. They don’t have to use it if they’re feeling well, but the option should be available to them).

I know that opening this door might open it to other things. Like pregnant women. I remember being 7-8 months pregnant and having to spend long hours in really uncomfortable governmental institutions (with bad bathrooms – horrendous when you’re in your late pregnancy).

In some supermarkets there’s a special express lane for the elderly and that’s cool.

But there should be more. People wait all their lives. When they’re older they should not need to rely on people’s kindness to give them their place in the queue. Kindness to them should be institutionalized and generalized. Does that even make sense? It should not be a favor a couple of people do to you if you’re lucky. It should be a right you’ve earned.

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