Thursday, November 10, 2016

How to Enjoy Senior Discounts with a Clear Conscience

Removed from the Link Log due to length, here's my comment on this link:

What do you think about senior discounts? My father used to hate them. Any mention that a store offered them would set him off about how much more young working parents needed the money than retired people did. He'd compare his income for the month, and our expenses with three kids and Mother unfit to work, with Great-Aunt Horsey Oily McFilthy's income and expenses. That always raised his blood pressure. Often he talked about this subject when walking with us to the bus stop on a chilly morning, so maybe he wanted to raise his blood pressure. After a few years the local stores stopped advertising senior discount days.

Then, as a young adult, I was reintroduced to stores in the city that still gave senior discounts on Tuesdays. These stores were easy to recognize. You'd see half a dozen seniors sitting on benches, while others walked around and shopped. As the lines moved toward the cash registers, the older people would stand up and join their car pools. You'd see young parents buying all kinds of things for themselves and their kids, picking out a few little things to put in separate bags for the grandparents, to whom the young people would hand the money as the grandparents paid.

I asked a store manager whether he thought this little game was dishonest. He said, "Not if it gets people to visit their parents. Some of the seniors who can't drive say Tuesdays are the only times they go out to lunch, the mall, or the park."

Senior discounts are usually offered to people over age 50, 60, or 70, but it's not always easy to tell who qualifies for one. Visible traits associated with "aging" are more reliable indicators of health and/or ethnic type rather than age. Some people of European descent have grey or white hair before age 30, while some people of Asian descent have black hair after age 70. People suffering from allergies or dehydration can have wrinkles before age 10! Many stores that offer senior discounts will automatically offer the discount to anyone who looks tired. Other stores require everyone to show proof of age if they want a senior discount.

When my husband qualified to join A.A.R.P. he was always challenged, sometimes in a rude way, if he'd shaved but usually offered discounts if he let those first white beard hairs show. He went in for minor surgery one day after having received his Metro discount pass. Although he planned to go home in a taxi, the hospital policy was to ask a "patient" and a "driver" to sign in together, so I went along. At the bus stop he grumbled, "At least I ought to look my age at this unreasonable hour. I feel every bit of 55." Then we boarded the bus and the driver, possibly hoping to amuse the pre-dawn commuters, screamed, "Whaaat? Yer tellin' me you are 55? No. No way. I gotta see some proof of that...I suppose she's a senior too!" After sunrise, when our senses of humor woke up, we agreed that it had been funny.

If being offered a discount before your time bothers you, or not being qualified for one bothers you, there is a simple solution. Just find a car pool buddy who is old enough to qualify for the discount. If nobody in your family wants to participate, advertise that you will drive and will pay for whatever discounted merchandise your senior friend helps you buy. You will make friends, and you will get bargains.