Shut Up and Give me the Discount!

By Terry Watada

The Sansei are coming of age – that is, they’re getting old. I must admit I am at the starting line of my “golden years”. I am retired and I now qualify for many discounts. Before such considerations, I first have to decide what kind of senior citizen I should become. The comfortable-in-his-own-skin type – related to the grandfatherly type who treats kids kindly when the mood strikes:

“What a cute kid, you are. Would you like an ice cream cone? Wait, what, I’m arrested? What for?”

Maybe not.

The old coot who complains about socialism; related to the cranky, unreasonable kind. You know, the know-it-all, experienced-it-all type.

“That’s the way we did it. Your way can’t be done! Whoever heard of such a thing?”

The cynical grouch who doesn’t like the world as it is now, occupied as it is by aliens.

“You got a tattoo? Why the hell did you do that?” (Clint Eastwood to his daughter.)

The lonely kind who talks to everyone and anyone, even though most want to be left alone.

“Hey look, I managed to get an Uncle Tetsu’s cheesecake with no line-up.”

I actually said this to a Starbucks barista without prompting. I think she was impressed even with that bemused look on her face.

There is the loner, the kind who recedes from society, who drops friends faster than a TIFF (film festival) fanatic drops names, who prefers being invisible instead of being sociable. I saw a Japanese movie once about a hikikomori. His only contact with the outside world was the pizza delivery guy. Not keen on carbo-binging myself so I probably won’t be a hermit.

Then there is the “dirty old man”, but there is no way I could be one of those. I’ve been rejected enough in my life. As I said before, I don’t want to be arrested. That’s all I need.

There are other types, but I haven’t quite found the one that suits me. The cranky grouch appeals, especially when a cold call comes through on my land-line. I love yelling about the devil when a bewildered solicitor tries to calm me down. I may go with that. May come in handy in a Chinese restaurant with bad service.

The discount is the best part of becoming a senior. I`ve already experienced this. In the US, some restaurants, like I-Hop and Wailana, a diner in Waikiki (featured in Hawaii 5-0), offer senior discounts at age 55, some McDonald’s at 50! Some may find this offensive. When a relative turned into a senior by any measure, someone congratulated her for being able to ride the bus at a discounted rate. She bristled and grew very angry. “I can pay!” she insisted. Most, however, observe the 65 year old threshold with celebration.

In my case, becoming a senior has caused an existential moment or two. Beer may be purchased at Loblaw’s now (I know, welcome to the civilized world). So I picked up one can and stood in the “beer lane” to pay for it. (I know, can’t drink like I used to) The young woman dutifully took the can, scanned it and then asked, “Could I see proof-of-age, sir?” I had to react. “Are you kidding me? You’re carding me? Do I look like a teenager to you?” All she did was shrug.

On the other hand, the first day I was eligible for a senior fare, I went to a transit kiosk and asked for twenty senior tickets. The young man dutifully counted out the tickets, took the money and gave me the tickets. I had to ask, “Don’t you want to see my ID?”

“No,” he answered with a shrug.

“You mean to tell me I look old?”

“Yeah, I guess so,” he said in a dismissive way.

I suppose as I progress into my “sunset years”, I will get used to the new world order and receive discounts or not. I recently noticed there is none at movie theatres on Tuesdays. The price of admission is cheaper anyway, though I’d love to say, “Shut up and give me the damn discount!” I’m just not there yet.

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