Seniors and Their Discounts

THE IDLE AMERICAN
Commentary by Dr. Don Newbury

In the course of human history, there’ve rarely been days like current ones when bottom lines on price tags have been so convoluted, confusing, confounding and–in some cases–perhaps even conspiratorial.

There may be a few more “con” words that apply, but these seem adequate to describe runaway prices, some of which are indeed “con jobs.”

Dr. Don Newbury

Blame has run the gamut, including problems getting ships unloaded, trucks back in motion and politicians untracked. Fingers are shaken, too, toward delays caused by shortages of materials for manufacturers.

Economists trot out numerous reasons why inflation is on the “up and up.” COVID provided the springboard for higher prices and shortages, igniting “blame game” fires both hither and yon.

It is tempting to cite the memorable words quoted by Pogo creator Walt Kelley: “We have met the enemy and he is us.” (It was based on a similar quote attributed to American Admiral Oliver Perry during the War of 1812.)

We seniors are “chase-cutters,” hereby declaring renewed intent to claim what is already ours: senior discounts.

By AARP standards, I have reached my 35th year of eligibility for such discounts, and–with renewed vigor—am determined to ask about discounts at every retail stop.

The time has come for “backbone-stiffening” by seniors, many of whom have incomes more fixed than television wrestling matches.

If favorable answers result from our questions, let us add requests that such discounts (military and veterans, too) be prominently displayed on signage and/or menus.

Allow me to share recent personal experiences. (I no longer apologize for reference to personal experiences, since they’re the only kind I’ve had.)

During visits to the same chain restaurant three times in recent months, I asked waitpersons about senior discounts. One waitperson “didn’t know,” the second said “no” and the third “would need to check with the manager.”

 All three times, the manager was summoned. Every time, he was red-faced and apologetic, haltingly admitting that senior discounts are indeed offered.

 At another fast-food place–this one locally owned–I did a double-take upon examination of my receipt for three hamburgers. The charge was north of $30, including almost $9 for three waters.

I asked the cashier, who explained that I had been given three cups, “free to fill them with water or the soft drink of my choice at the dispensing machine.”

I hailed down the manager. She seemed embarrassed, removed the drink charge and moaned about good help being “hard to find.” (There are many such moanings these days.)

A few weeks later–at the same burger place–the same employee took my order. I asked about senior discounts. “I don’t know, and my manager is not here,” she responded.

Her next utterance fueled my resolve. “She’s in the bathroom.”

I waited until the manager was back on duty, asked about the discount, and was granted 10 percent off.

My first memory of inflation–or whatever they called increased costs 75 years ago–concerned soft drink prices. Seemingly overnight, prices jumped from five cents to six cents.

No one picketed–at least they didn’t in my little town–but grumbling prevailed. The same wordage appeared on signs in restaurants and drug stores, as well as near soft drink machines.

This attempt at humor probably softened the blow: “Our drinks are all sick scents.”

OK, so there’s little we can do, except:

  1. Admit that good help is hard to find, commiserating with management.
  2. Ask about discounts.
  3. Suggest that such discounts be posted and/or shown on menus.

Coming to mind is the story of two country mice–starved out on the drought-stricken farm–seeking employment in the city.

 At day’s end, one still hadn’t found work, but learned that his friend was elated about signing up for the next rocket launch to outer space. “Why would you do that?” he asked.

“I had to make a choice,” the other mouse said. “It was either that or cancer research.”

   Dr. Newbury was a longtime university president who still writes weekly and speaks regularly throughout Texas. Contact: Phone 817-447-3872. Email: newbury@speakerdoc.com. Facebook: Don Newbury. Twitter: @donnewbury.

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