Witty children used to taunt their peers, “Act your age, not your shoe size!” Society wants older people to consider their age when they speak, when they dress, even when they style their hair! This month’s seniors in the news aren’t listening to any of that nonsense! These octogenarians are doing what they want, and they’re not letting anyone tell them what they should be doing. (Although, maybe the bank robber should have listened to some advice.) As the meme says, “I don’t know how to act my age, I’ve never been this old before!”
Angela Bell of Santa Barbara, CA, earned her graduate degree in June from the Peace Theological Seminary and College of Philosophy. Eighty-seven-year-old Angela streamed the courses she needed for her Doctorate of Spiritual Science online, because the seminary is in Los Angeles. Distance isn’t the only obstacle Angela overcame on the way to this milestone accomplishment: she is dyslexic and didn’t graduate from high school until she was 40 years old! After putting her Depression-era childhood behind her, she raised her children, got her high school diploma, and then added a Bachelor’s degree and a Master’s degree to her resume! At 87, most of us might decide to rest on those impressive laurels, but Angela has no plans to slow down. This octogenarian just hasn’t decided what her next triumph will be yet!
Arthur Bays, age 82, strolled into a Benton IL bank branch last month with his cane in one hand and a (toy) gun in his waistband. He showed it to the teller, who didn’t know it was a toy, and she gave him a bundle of cash. Arthur strolled out with more than $12,000 in hand. Police tracked the ‘armed bank robber’ and found Arthur, who had already spent some of the money. He’d also tossed his toy weapon into the trash. After police caught up with him, his story came out: Arthur was a now-retired, longtime business owner in his hometown of Marion, IL, and he was having trouble paying his bills. A mix-up with Social Security that stopped his regular checks inspired him to commit the first crime of his life. Though he faces a federal bank robbery charge and a prison term, Arthur is currently out on bail. At 82, Arthur isn’t your average bank robber, or your average octogenarian! Good luck, Arthur!
Hackers, as we all know, are Millennial or Gen-X slackers in hoodies and Converse sneakers, who live on Mountain Dew and Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. They are white hats (good guys) or black hats (bad guys) and even grey hats (they do good things for selfish reasons). Whatever the hat they wear, they have no respect for authority, passwords or firewalls. What they are not, television, movies and the internet tells us, are octogenarians. But Alec Daniels, age 86, who started out hatless, took a class for seniors from the Scam Avoidance School (SAS), and took to hacking in a snap. Or a click. A UK bank launched the SAS for Seniors program earlier this year to educate seniors in all the ways that scammers can target them online. While Dancing with the Stars judge Len Goodman, age 73, was the program’s first graduate, thousands of British seniors have taken the class this year. One octogenarian graduate, Alec Daniels, learned so well that he aced the ‘practical’ exam. He sent a scam email and successfully hacked a public Wi-Fi network in just 16 minutes! But no harm done, he’s firmly in the white hat brigade. So when you think about hackers from now on, you may have to add an octogenarian to that gaggle of kids.
PS – Len Goodman fans can watch him explain what he learned in the course in this video from his series, Len’s Learns: https://vimeo.com/258957407.