2012-10-04 / Lifestyles

In pursuit of senior discounts

Lois A. Corcoran

You know you’re getting old when you qualify for a senior discount. Never one to look a cut rate in the mouth, I’m only too happy to indulge. Trouble is, it’s embarrassing to bring up the matter.

“Um, er, I’m, like, over 50 so...”

“I know,” the cashier interrupted. “You told me last week.”

So now I’m one of those old folks who repeat themselves.

The discount at this particular store only occurs one day a week so lots of us fossils shop on Wednesday. Not all businesses observe the practice, however. When asked, the manager of a fast food joint regretted that it did not offer discounts to “people of the senior persuasion.”

But plenty of them do. The trick is to request it. Most employees are cautioned not to ask and risk offending customers. This is because, from a youthful clerk’s perspective, everyone over 30 looks old.

Some patrons discreetly mention it with their order. “I’d like a burger, fries, and senior discount, please.” This sounds much nicer than the crotchety old guy who yelled, “Gimme a senior coffee!”

When in doubt, you can politely inquire if the restaurant offers a “senior menu”. Or do like an acquaintance of mine does and say, “Hey, got any discounts for old people?”

You can even let your gear do your begging for you. Special Tshirts, baseball caps, buttons and other paraphernalia remind merchants “Don’t forget my senior discount.”

Of course, “senior” is in the eye of the beholder. While some stores place the cut-off mark at 50, others see that age as still wet behind the ears.

“It’s a real gray area,” one guy joked. He was all set to take his discount when he turned 60, then learned that the establishment had upped it to 62.

The amount of the discount differs, too. Some offer as much as a fifth off but others limit it to one percent. The latter makes little difference unless you’re buying, say, a yacht.

“All I know is if you’re gonna call me a senior,” said a disgruntled woman, “you better give me more than a buck.”

Not everyone “wants” a senior discount though. When asked about it by a restaurant worker, my indignant mother replied with a firm, “No!” Not only that, she has no desire to ever return.

So the cafe can say adios to “that” senior-eater.

Return to top