Dear Amy: Why do people have to be so rude to old people?

I need to know how to respond when someone has been rude to me or my friends. We are three people in our seventies. We live near a national park and have been hiking for nine years. We have probably hiked more miles uphill than the people who constantly insult us.

Here is an example of the rudeness: Two of the ladies have full heads of beautiful white hair. I color mine, so I look younger.

Twice now, someone has said to me, “Are you walking with your mother today?”

The lady she is referring to as my mother is one year younger than me! It is so embarrassing.

It is also common for someone to go up to my friend and ask, “How old are you?”

Another comment we hear almost every time we go on the trail is, “I am so proud of you” (meaning that we could actually walk a few miles).

Just because we are old, does that mean we should stay home in our rockers, or cover our heads with bags? Please give me a good retort to these rude people.

— Feeling Younger Than I Am

Dear Feeling Younger: What you call “rudeness” I call “cringe-worthy condescension.” My point being that these trailside commenters are trying to connect. They are trying to be nice. They are failing, but they’re trying.

My late mother hated to talk about herself. She was also the queen of the snappy comebacks, and late in her life when a stranger asked how old she was, she simply replied, “Well, how old are YOU?” She would also sometimes respond to a question she didn’t want to answer by saying, “Why are you asking?” These are non-rude ways to answer an intrusive query.

If someone asks if you are hiking with your mother, you can respond, “No, now you have a good day!” as you blaze past them on the trail.

But please understand that the people who patronize you likely have older family members who aren’t as lucky, healthy, fit and active as you are. They are admiring you.

You three could have some fun with this and also get T-shirts made, declaring yourselves to be the “Over the Hill Gang.” Get it?

Dear Amy: As an advocate for victims of child sex trafficking, the reader that submitted the question about her husband using teen dating/escort services was alarming. If the teens are under the age of 18, this is a crime that needs to be reported. If the teens’ ages cannot be substantiated, this still needs to be reported to see if he is raping children that are being trafficked.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) is one reporting agency that is connected to the FBI.

There were 8.2 million reports made to NCMEC in 2016, doubling the 4.4 million reported in 2015. This is a serious epidemic where children that can be raped 20 to 40 times a day are trafficked every four minutes. Three-quarters of trafficking is via the internet.

The reader may have more problems to deal with then just an unfaithful spouse, he could be a pedophile and child rapist.

— Mary Patterson

Dear Mary: Thank you for sharing the alarming statistics about sex trafficking, an issue that concerns all of us.

Dear Amy: I’d like to share a suggestion for “Upset Daughter,” whose father made bullying comments to her.

For years my father did things that I thought were terrible. I went to a therapist about it and he told me that I had to make a choice: keep yearning for the father I don’t have, or accept the one I have.

In an effort to accept who I had, I made up a game called “How low can he go?” Whenever Dad did something that upset me, I’d rank it against his past actions and give it a score.

Once I removed myself from the process and turned it into a game I started softening toward him. Now, years later, my 92-year-old father and I are closer than ever, and I realize that having my real dad is a gift.

— Experienced

Dear Experienced: I love your therapist’s wise counsel. I made similar peace with my own father before he died last month. I highly recommend that children of disruptive parents embrace the challenge to find a way to a peaceful acceptance toward the people they cannot change.

Contact Amy Dickinson at:

askamy@amydickinson.com