The question hit me like an extra large package of Depends.
“Don’t take this the wrong way, ma’am, but do you qualify for the senior discount?”
I don’t usually shop on Thursday at my local grocery store, where, evidently, it was senior citizen discount day. I guess the cashier was trying to help me save a few cents.
“Well, how old do I have to be to qualify?” I asked thinking the answer surely must be 55.
“Sixty,” said the cashier without blinking.
Sixty! Holy moly! I’m four, I repeat four, years away from 60.
“No, I don’t qualify,” I said in a voice cold enough to chill my hot deli-baked chicken.
It would have been one thing if this cashier had been some teeny-bopper. Heck, everybody over 30 looks like a senior citizen to an 18-year-old.
But this grocery store employee was no spring chicken herself. True, she was younger than I am, but only by a decade — or two.
I was rattled. It’s shallow, but I am influenced by a society where getting old is celebrated with black balloons and being young is celebrated in rock songs and cool advertisements.
And I’m vain. I know I am. I totally admit it. I like to think I look good for my age — which is not 60. I work out at Curves three, well, OK, maybe two times most weeks. (Sometimes I’m on vacation and sometimes, there’s something good on “Oprah.”) I try not to dress frumpy and keep a fairly current haircut. And — well, I don’t want to share all my beauty secrets.
Beauty secrets which evidently are not working! But here’s my advice for all these stores which offer senior discounts. It’s a spin on the military policy of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” People do love to save money, but if they don’t tell you they qualify for a senior citizen discount, then by all means don’t ask them.
Patsy Pridgen is an English instructor at Nash Community College.