I just came back from the grocery store. It was a simple trip — a dozen eggs, a few avocados, grated cheese and some marmalade. As I stood ready to check out, my debit card in hand, the clerk asked me if I wanted "the senior discount."
She didn't say, "I'm not sure if you're eligible to receive our senior discount, but if you are, we do have one in effect on Tuesdays."
She didn't ask whether I'd heard about their "honored citizen" discount (a much preferable term, don't you think?). She didn't even smile at me.
She assumed I was over 65. And she did her obligatory customer query before she charged me. It was Tuesday after all. That I appreciate, of course. Although smiling at seniors seems like it should go with querying them about their discounted status. Think about that way of phrasing it, for just a minute.
I have no problem looking eligible for said discount (I guess), but no matter what your age, how should you deal with this question? Here's a thought. Perhaps she'd asked everyone who came through her line that day about their eligibility for a senior discount. If asked, who among us would say "no thanks" to a reduced grocery bill? Even if you weren't 65, would you say, "And can you tell me the age-cutoff for being called a senior?" Maybe you would. Or maybe you would just nod — and hopefully smile a little — and take the savings.
Take the savings. There are quite a large number of discounted products and fees for older adults. No matter what our economic status, we are basically a frugal bunch in many ways, and we should be tuned into the possibility of cost reductions for the products we buy.
"Always ask" is my new motto. And do so before that clerk, who may have had too many chatty, slow-moving, aging adults in her line already that day, asks you. It feels better to do it that way — and puts you in control.
Control is a big issue as we age. We have a lot of "lost control" in our lives. We lose vision and hearing and jobs to retirement and spouses to death. We often feel like we lose status or visibility.
I've read recently that aging people in their mid- to late-60s feel the most tentative about lost control and about interactions and relationships — perhaps the post-retirement consideration makes it more real for them?
But I've also read that when we get to about age 75, we find our voices, our confidence rises and it stays high and we feel very in control.
I read an article on website called www.realsimple.com that talked about Betty Reid Soskin, 89, a full-time park ranger for the Rosie the Riveter World War II National Historic Park in Richmond, Calif.
Now there's woman whose spirit I want to take with me when I shop for avocados on Tuesdays.
Sharon Johnson is a retired Oregon State University associate professor emeritus. Reach her at 541-261-2037 or Sharon@hmj.com.