Senior citizen discounts

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It has taken my entire life to get here, but finally it’s happened and it’s better than even I could’ve imagined. I received the designation “Senior Citizen” last Wednesday, bestowed upon me by cashier number one at our local grocery store.

She asked if I qualified for the discount, and I replied that I would be 60 in April. She said that was close enough. Shocked, I paid for my bag of discounted items and, with an added spring in my step, headed back to the car wondering: Just what other senior citizen discounts would soon becoming my way?

When asked if there was a senior citizen discount for water and garbage pick-up, the lady behind the counter at City Hall replied, “No.” Obviously she hadn’t talked to cashier number one at the grocery store or the AARP folks. According to AARP, I’ve been a senior citizen since I turned 50. I showed her my bright red card to prove it, but she still stated politely, “Everyone pays the same rate.”

Not discouraged, I went to our local power company. Surely with as much money as I’ve spent with them over the years, a big fat discount would soon be headed my way. Or so I thought.

After explaining about my looming April birthday and the designation already bestowed upon me by cashier number one at our local grocery store, I proudly presented my bright red AARP card. To say the lady was impressed with the evidence that I should qualify for a senior citizen discount would be an overstatement. She wasn’t. Like the water department over at City Hall, it seems the power company also doesn’t give seniors discounts.

As I returned to the car, the spring had somewhat been taken out of my step. Still determined to find senior citizen discounts, I visited the local movie theater. Their discount was for any movie starting before noon for anyone age 65 and over — I didn’t qualify. After filling up my tank, the attendant at the gas station said no. At the over-priced ice cream shop, the scooper also said no, but it being Wednesday, I did get a third scoop for free.

The rest of my day was spent asking every establishment I visited if they had a senior citizen discount. I’m not trying to take advantage of the system, but if there’s a discount for simply being older, I certainly don’t want to miss out.

A few restaurants did have dinner specials, but only if you came in at 5 in the afternoon. For me, that’s just too early for dinner. Besides, I was still full from my triple scoop ice cream lunch and that large bucket of popcorn from the movie theater. Discounted or not, you just can’t go into a theater and not buy that delicious, buttery popcorn. I’ve tried making it at home, but it’s just not the same.

When The Wife got home, I told her about my long day. She couldn’t believe I spent the entire time searching for senior citizen discounts.

I started to complain about being older: “I’m just old enough to qualify for discounts I don’t want and will never use, except for those at the grocery store, but still not old enough to qualify for those that I will.”

The Wife listened as I continued complaining about how being a senior citizen really doesn’t have any advantages. “My joints hurt all the time, it’s more effort to get up out of chairs, and I’ve got to use glasses when I read.”

With my tirade finally over, The Wife got up, said she had the answer, and left the room. In a few moments she returned and said, “I can think of not one but two advantages about being a senior citizen.”

That’s when Little One and Sweet Caroline, our two granddaughters, ran around the corner and jumped into their Big Papa’s lap. Immediately I forgot about all my aches and pains. If feeling old and useless is an illness, then they certainly have been my cure. There’s no discounting their love and it seems I qualify — even at my not-so-old age.

[Rick Ryckeley, who lives in Senoia, served as a firefighter for more than two decades and has been a weekly columnist since 2001. His email is storiesbyrick@gmail.com. His books are available at www.RickRyckeley.com.]