My First Senior Discount

Illustration of a sign reading "SENIOR DISCOUNT"


Golden Valley Homes


(SENIOR WIRE) Senior discounts are not governed by law, so businesses set their own threshold for how old one must be to qualify. I’ve seen ages 50, 55, 60, 62, 65, and 70 used as the benchmark for being entitled to a senior discount.

From a kid’s point of view, senior discounts are for “old” people. Though kids get their own discounts, too. For as long as I can remember, cinemas have offered a lower price to anyone age 12 or under. When a group of us kids went to the movies once, my friend Andy B., because he was already 6 feet tall and still growing (he ended up at least 6’8”), was charged an adult price even though he was 12. On the other hand, I got the 12-and-under discount until I was 14. It wasn’t how old one was that mattered, but how old one looked. In many places, for kids and seniors, that’s still the case.

The senior discounts are all around us. Movie houses; public buses and trains; membership in organizations; green fees to shoot a round of golf; certain subscriptions; dining in restaurants.

Receiving her first senior discount greatly depressed my mother. She figured middle age had ended and old age had begun. Her depression lasted just a week. Then she was happy about the discounts because she was saving money.

My favorite senior discount is the Medicare system. Hey, that’s what it is, if you think about it. A health-insurance system where, if you are age 65 or older, you can pay much lower rates than us working stiffs who have to buy our own health insurance. Even now, I look forward greatly to Medicare. If only I were old enough …

Last month, I was in a thrift bakery—a place that sells slightly older packaged bakery items the supermarkets will no longer shelve. The packages get sent to the thrift bakery, where they are sold at a big discount to shoppers. (Without the discount the food wouldn’t sell, then would spoil, and have to be discarded.) About twice a year I visit solely to stock up on bread, which stays well in the home freezer until it’s ready to be eaten. Each loaf costs less than half of what it costs in a supermarket.

There’s a sign at the checkout counter, announcing a 10-percent discount for seniors, age 60 and older, but only if the patron asks for the discount prior to the purchase being rung up. Guess they don’t want to make corrections to transactions after they’re entered into the system.

I paid scant attention to the sign. It didn’t apply to me.

But last month, the employee, as she started to handle the loaves of bread, looked me up and down with intense scrutiny. Didn’t ask me any questions, and I didn’t say a word. But after everything rang up and she announced the total, I realized she had applied the senior discount. I knew it, because whenever I go to the checkout I already have in my head what the grand total should be (this skill probably can’t be taught).

I paid the senior-discounted rate without correcting the employee. Why make her feel bad by pointing out she had misjudged my age? I am still a few years away from turning 60. But I guess I’m getting close. My eldest brother, who is 60, probably wouldn’t have been given the discount unless he asked for it—he still has a full head of hair, and it hasn’t grayed on him. Me, I no longer have a full head of hair, and the hair I do have is all gray. Been that way for some years now.

Back at home I squinted into the mirror. Yep, I can see why I was given the discount. Even though I don’t qualify, I’m not depressed. I’m just eager to start receiving the the Medicare enrollment discount—Age 65.

In the meantime, if you’re 50 or older, be alert for senior discounts MSN

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