I could never have foreseen how my ego would be crushed on that fateful day.
It was one of those moments in life that you never forget. I can still remember it like it was yesterday…
My wife and I were on an early morning shopping trip at our local K-Mart when my stomach began to growl. It was past breakfast time, and we had not yet eaten.
Just down the aisle I noticed a little cafe tucked into the corner of the store, with a sign advertising a $2.99 breakfast special. Perfect! A quick cheap bite and we’d be on our way.
An attractive young woman, who couldn’t have been a day over 18, smiled sweetly at us from behind the counter as we walked up to order.
“What can I get you two this morning?” she asked cheerfully.
We placed our breakfast orders. Then I remembered my coupon.
“By the way,” I said, “I have a coupon here for a free cup of coffee.”
Then the sweet young thing, totally oblivious to the havoc she would soon wreak on my self-esteem, flashed a pretty smile and spoke again.
“Oh, you don’t need that, sir. With our senior citizen discount you always get a free cup of coffee with any breakfast purchase.”
The arrow went straight through my heart and flew out my back, collapsing a lung in the process.
Senior citizen discount? SENIOR CITIZEN DISCOUNT!!!
Who did this young punk think she was talking to?
I was speechless. (Those who know me can testify that this is a rare event.) I accepted my free senior citizen coffee, then hobbled over to the table to sit down with Peggy while we waited for our breakfast to be grilled.
When our food finally arrived, it was the most tasteless meal I had ever eaten.
When the freight train of reality runs you down, it can take a while to recover. I suddenly felt very “past it.” I sat at the table, staring off into space. It is a crushing blow to a man’s ego the first time he realizes that young women regard him as a senior citizen.
Bless her heart, Peggy was sensitive to my distress. “Dave, she’s just a teenager,” she said gently, “She probably thinks anybody over 30 is old.”
I appreciated her compassion, but I just needed time to heal.
I went home that day and spent some time in front of the bathroom mirror. Where did all that gray hair come from? When did all of those wrinkles around my eyes appear? How could I have gone to pot like this and never have noticed it before?
As time has passed, I have regained my perspective. As the old saying goes, “Nobody wants to get old until they consider the alternative.” God has blessed my life in many ways, and I don’t have a right to complain about anything.
I just needed to grow up and face the reality of aging. Getting older is just a fact of life that we all have to accept. It comes with the territory as we wander through this temporary life on earth.
Of course, the presence of grandchildren is a constant reminder that the years are flying by. It’s darn near impossible to forget how old you are with two little tykes running around calling you “grampa” all the time.
In fact, I have now come full circle, and I embrace my seniority in life. My new motto is “gray power!”
I happily accept any “senior” discounts that are available wherever I shop. And it is nice when there is some heavy work to be done, and the younger guys jump in and go for it so as to spare the old man (that would be me) from possibly straining himself.
If it’s really hot outside, and I start to feel woozy while working, I sit back to rest and nobody hassles me about it. When I was younger I was always hearing things like, “Get off your butt, wienie boy, we’ve got work to do.” Now, in deference to my elderly station in life, people cut me a little more slack.
I am amused every time I stop at Arby’s for a cup of coffee. If the cashier behind the counter is under the age of 30, I will almost always automatically get the senior discount on my purchase. If the cashier is closer to my age, I will likely be charged full price. Perception is everything, I suppose.
My advice to you, dear reader, is to try and enjoy each day of life that God gives you. We never know which day may be our last. Our time down here is short, and getting shorter!
My goal is to enjoy every fleeting moment of life down here to the best of my ability. For instance, I’ve got an exciting day planned for tomorrow.
After taking my morning medications, I’ll indulge in a leisurely sponge bath. Then it will be time for my morning nap. After I awake, I’ll head over to MCL for the senior citizens’ lunch special.
After lunch I’ll shuffle over to the drugstore to pick up some bunion ointment and get a new rubber tip installed on my cane.
While I’m down near the mall, I might even splurge and go see a moving picture show. I hear they’re in color now.