Friday, January 17, 2014
Recently I blogged about NORCs (for Naturally Recurring Retirement Communities) and Villages, two community-based models for aging in place that are popping up around the country, often in larger cities. Apparently the label "NORC" could also be applied to a not-so "natural" retirement setting -- your local McDonald's restaurant.
According to the New York Times, that's what's been happening in Flushing, New York, where a group of elderly Korean men and women have been gathering to socialize, starting as early as 5 a.m. and staying on well into the evening hours. The restaurant owners were not happy, especially as the size of the group increased and members weren't placing orders. Management eventually called the police, seeking removal of those who seemingly ignored posted time limits, requests to vacate or stronger language. Now politicians and television cameras are involved:
"Whether the Koreans, many in their 70s and 80s, were right or wrong to spend their days at the restaurant, arriving as early as 5 a.m. and paying as little as $1.09 for a cup of coffee during their daylong stays, seemed not to matter much to the small but vocal group protesting against McDonald’s before an assortment of television cameras and photographers. What seemed to nettle the Korean community most was the perception that in asking police officers to remove the group, the business had been rude."
The New York Times coverage of the on-going dispute seems to suggest that heritage and cultural traditions play a part in the "imbroglio," interviewing "Officer Hee-Jin Park-Dance from the Community Affairs Bureau of the Police Department [who] works out of Flushing. She said: “In Korea or any other Asian cultures, the elder is treated like gold. When you see an elder you get up, you give a seat right away. It’s a sign of respect.”