I went into a gift shop at my local plaza, and ahead of me was a very old lady on a walker. She was little and stooped, and didn’t appear to take much trouble about how she dressed. She was wearing an old cardigan and her hair was a little dishevelled. She handed over some money, then turned to make her way slowly out of the shop. I noticed that her eyes were shining.
The assistant had to tell someone. “See that electronic juke box in the window, the one with all the flashing lights? She’s put it on layby and she’s only got two more payments to make. She’s saving money each week from her pension.”
Is she buying it for a grandchild or something?” I said.
“No—it’s for herself, she says.”
The juke box was $999, an enormous amount of money for a pensioner to pay, even by layby (paying it off in fortnightly instalments).
The old lady was, the assistant said, the most unlikely purchaser for such a thing, and not only because of the expense. “I think she’s suffering from dementia a bit—we couldn’t believe she’d actually see all the payments through.”
I took a picture of the juke box that day, the one at the top of this post.
A few weeks later, I visited the shop again. The juke box was still in the window. “Has she paid it off yet?” I asked.
“Not yet—one more payment. She asked us to put some music on it. I used a flash drive to download a whole lot of songs, which I’ll give to her and all she needs to do is plug it into the juke box,” the assistant continued. “She says she’d like all the old hits from the 1940s and 1950s.”
Another few weeks went by. I walked past the shop and noticed the juke box was gone. I had to know.
“She paid it off today and it’s being delivered to her flat,” the assistant said. “Now she wants more music.” She rolled her eyes.
I have an enduring vision of the old lady young again and accompanied by a handsome beau, playing her juke box and, in her mind, dancing the night away to Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, Bo Diddley, and the Platters.
Rock on—you’re never too old to dance.