"Are You Eligible for the Senior Discount?"
The day before I turned 55 I received a letter from my bank. The auxiliary checking account I'd opened for online transactions would soon be assessed an $8 monthly fee unless I maintained a $1000 minimum balance or deposited $250/month, neither of which was feasible for me.
A bit put out by this parsimonious behavior from a bank I'd found customer-centric until then, I approached the assistant manager. She skimmed the letter and said confidently, "We'll find a solution." After a couple of basic usage questions, she asked, "Are you 55 yet?" I exclaimed, "My birthday's tomorrow!" She replied, "Then the account is free," and scrawled, "55+ FREE" across the notice in red marker.
This was my first encounter with the unexpected perks of my seniority.
Not Your Mother's Aging Cohort
I've written often about how the Boomers are not going to want to age in the same manner as previous generations. Many of us are at our creative zenith, rewired (not retired) for a new chapter. But America, a youthful country, still caters to a youth culture.
We see it reflected in advertising. Even though older adults will outnumber children for the first time in history by 2035, marketing to the mature market is "condescending at best, offensive at worst."
For Boomers, more likely to rock with a guitar than a chair, this is a trifle frustrating. But do we fuel this misperception? Consider:
A grocery store checkout clerk who has the audacity to ask a customer if they're eligible for the discount typically offered those 60+ (in some cases, 55+) is often roundly put in place.
People have become so affronted, in fact, that the stores I frequent now prohibit their staff from asking such a question. Instead, there is a sign posted to the ubiquitous Plexiglas about senior discounts and the specific days they're offered.
Given the plethora of signage in the COVID era — and accompanying facemasks obscuring our vision — I rarely give such notices a glance. So at one market, it was close to a year before I realized I could save ten percent on Tuesdays, something I only learned when I heard the woman ahead of me in line ask for the discount.
Why be offended by an inquiry designed to save money? I surmise it's our visceral reaction to how we're both perceived and portrayed. Aging in America is not for the timid.
In this video, Chip speaks of growing not old, but ripe. I appreciate his language evolution. As we grow older, "we grow our role, we grow our soul, and we grow whole," he affirms. We ripen into our fullness as we enter our wisdom years.
One of my all-time favorite reimaginings, spied in a small health food store in Colorado, read, "Please let us know if you're chronologically gifted in order to receive a discount."
While Americans may have discounted seniors for years, those of us on the silver side are now ripe to reap its rewards. Sister Madonna Buder, known as "the Iron Nun," demonstrates the essence of being chronologically gifted in this Nike ad, where she competes in her 46th triathlon — at age 86.
And actress Sophia Loren, also 86, recently said, "I never looked in the mirror and thought I was beautiful. But now I like myself."
Let's change the narrative about aging so people find it joyful to share how many times they've circled the sun. Consider this your invitation to seize the kairos moment — and share your wisdom gained with those who are ripe to receive.
Amara Rose is a guide for conscious evolution. She writes frequently about vital aging and all aspects of health and well being. Discover more at LiveYourLight.com