When I was 16, there would have been no way for me to drive a new SUV. That’s just one thought that crossed my mind recently when I realized I had turned into the wrong parking lot of Veterans Boulevard, and in fact, needed to go a few addresses farther to get to my meeting.

As I pulled out of the parking lot and turned right, horn blasts behind me instinctively made me pull to the right, over the curb. The horn continued to blow. I saw in my mirror a white SUV was behind me. I pulled back into the turn lane and advanced, and the SUV followed right behind me. A bit confused at what the problem was, I turned back into the lot and parked. The SUV followed me and parked a few spots down from me.

A woman in the car mouthed something to me from inside her car. When she threw her hands up, got out of the car and slammed the door, I realized she had not mouthed what I originally thought: “Are you OK?”

She walked around her car, all of maybe 16, phone in her hand, and began to yell at me. I hit her car! Her brand new 3-month-old car! Didn’t I see her? What was I looking at?

I walked toward her and said, “I did not hit your car.”

Nothing doing. Now she was shouting into the phone, “Some old lady just hit my car!” I assume the person on the other end of the line asked something like “How bad is the damage,” because the young lady said, “You can’t see anything.” I walked over, looked at her car and said, “I didn’t hit your car. There’s not a mark on your car.” Then I walked to my car, which is red, and said, “And there’s no mark on my car, either.”

She jumped back in her car and left. I arrived at my meeting down the street rattled. Old Lady! I have joked often in my workplace about being the “old lady” but nobody ever called me Old Lady to my face. Yes. I’m 75. I’ve lived a rich, full life and accomplished more than I ever dreamed. I flunked retirement and returned to work in my chosen field, education, in January.

Age affects all differently. Some are blessed with good health, friends, close families, stimulating activities and the feeling we’re still useful. Some of us live on different parts of that spectrum. Some of us unfortunately don’t live to be “old.”

I applaud this young lady’s parents for teaching her to stick up for herself. Hopefully, with a few more years, she’ll also learn good manners.

MARY ALLEN

retired school superintendent

Metairie