Arnie and I gratefully sank into opposite sides of the booth we were shown. Relieved we were somewhere warm, we slipped off our coats. Turning over the menu, Arnie exclaimed with a smile, “What do you know, we’re eligible for the senior discount!”
Our winter birthdays were one month apart. He had turned 55 years old at Thanksgiving. At Christmas, so did I. Up until then, we thought senior discounts started at age 65. This restaurant started them at 55. It was a small perk, but it warmed our hearts on that cold and blustery January day.
Arnie liked to tease me by telling our children that I was much older than he was. After my husband died unexpectedly, four months after he turning 56, I thought to myself as I grappled with grief, “Now I will truly be older than Arnie. What a cruel joke!” Then the years began to roll by as I continued to live and work.
Two years before I retired from being a Certified Nursing Assistant, I had a patient one day who touched my heart. It was an old man who hadn’t received any company during the previous week. Not a single flower or plant had been sent to him. I resolved to spend a little extra time talking with him as he washed, changed gowns and brushed his teeth.
Later, as I charted my activities, I happened to notice that the patient’s age was listed as 63 years of age. That was exactly how old I was at the time. Shocked, I realized I had thought of him as an old man. Soothing my sensibilities, I rationalized, “Surely, we’ve aged at different rates!”
With my retirement, came full-fledged rights for senior discounts at every store and restaurant that offers them. Between my natural frugal tendencies and living on a pension, I take advantage by never failing to let the person checking me out know that I’m eligible. The discount often isn’t very much, sometimes only fifteen cents for a luncheon salad, but I’m grateful for the consideration.
One recent evening, I stopped at a restaurant for a meal with a friend. As I paid before leaving, but before I could inform the waitress, she cheerfully chirped, “I’ve given you the senior discount. It’s saved you fifty cents.”
I smiled and thanked her, but I felt shocked. How did she know I was that old? Do I look like an old person? In my mind, I pictured my husband, forever young in heaven. I said to him, “What do you know, Arnie. Now I’ve started to look like I’m eligible for senior discounts!”