Thursday, October 07, 2010

Ya Gotta Know When to Play 'Em

In an entertaining post, blogger Joared (her site is “Along the Way”) told of a twinge of embarrassment when she played the age card to get her air conditioner fixed promptly during a southern California heat wave. I once was reluctant about asking for senior and other favors. Not any more.

Some 20 years ago, I snorted in disbelief when told a friend had joined the oldsters at the Golden Hours Senior Center in Ogden, Utah, the day after she turned 50. Our friend’s husband was a retired Marine Corps colonel, who was collecting a hefty stipend every month courtesy of Uncle Sam. In addition, he had collected an even heftier sum a few years earlier as the sole beneficiary of his wealthy mother’s will.

Our pal was resolute. She said she saw no reason not to take advantage of free lunches (a $2.00 donation was suggested, but not required) and numerous other perks available at or through the Senior Center. “After all,” she said, “I’m now officially a senior, and I deserve what I can get.”

Our friend was right. We’re not regulars at senior centers, but we have learned not to hold back when playing the age card or other special cards we hold will produce a winner. Discounts and freebies are all around us, and there’s no reason not to take advantage of them.

Although chains often aren’t the finest eateries, we many years ago became fond of several menu items and the atmosphere in Applebee’s restaurants. Last year, I was amazed to hear an elderly lady at an adjacent table ask for the senior discount. The waitress said, “Sure,” and knocked 10 percent off the tab. Applebee’s had provided a 10 percent senior discount for all the years we’d eaten there, but they never advertised it. You had to ask for it. Now that we’re in the know, I ask every time.

Lowe’s offers a 10 percent discount on Memorial Day and Veteran's Day to all veterans, and at all times to active service people. Home Depot matches the perk. But, again, vets must request the discount and they may have to show some evidence of their service. We’re remodeling our home and improving the landscaping. We’ve saved hundreds of dollars with those discounts.

If a little junk food is in order, Wendy’s is one place to get it. You can go there and pay the regular prices, which most do, or, at least here in Michigan, you can first visit a web site ( and get coupons that will cut your burger tab in half. And, if you’re a senior and ask for it, you can get a drink for pennies and get a free refill as often as you go back.

If you have a personal hang up about asking for a discount, try a little humor to put yourself at ease. My favorite tactic is: “I know you find it hard to believe I’m a senior. But I am. Do you have a senior discount?” That almost always brings on a smile, and occasionally nets a discount I wasn’t expecting. The world can use more smiles, and we can use more discounts.

It pays to be alert and do a little detective work. My local newspaper published a story on utility costs. Buried near the end was a brief description of a Senior Citizen Electric Credit of $3.00 per month if the household head is over age 65. I checked out the company’s web page and learned to my surprise that no income levels were involved, and I was eligible. It took 10 minutes to make a phone call and sign up.

The bad news is I missed $63 in credits that could have been mine had I been on the ball and checked out utility perks when we moved here. However, figuring we will gain $36 over the next year, I took Sandy to lunch in celebration—at Applebees using a senior discount, of course.

“Ask and it shall be given you. Seek and ye shall find.”

Good biblical advice. And on a more secular note, when you’re dealt a handful of aces—play them!


Jhawk23 said...

Good thinking, Gabby. I recall even as early as age 55, a friend told me about "senior" discounts at a regional Wal-mart style retailer (now defunct). I was astounded that such benefits accrued even to those of the not-yet-tender age of 55, but now that I'm truly ancient (past 65) I look for these gems.

I won't go to a place just because it has a senior discount; but if it's one I frequent anyway, I am not shy about asking.

Anonymous said...

Received via e-mail, 10/09/10:

We're most grateful for the tips about senior discounts in your October 7 blog. We patronize some of the same vendors, so we'll be asking about discounts also. Eating at Applebee's is a favorite pastime of ours, but the 10% break has been unknown to us for years. No longer--we'll ask every time there from now on. Thank you.

Thanks also for the reassurance that the "Cocktail Party stance is clear and firm." I wouldn't want it any other way, especially with the rate our society seems to be sliding downhill.

joared said...

Thanks for the mention. I have MI relatives so will have to pass along this info, or maybe even take advantage of it myself when next I visit Ann Arbor.

I have no qualms about asking for a discount. I had no idea of so many of those discounts. The moral is to ask everyone everywhere. The worst that can happen is they'll say "no Senior discount."

Years ago I discovered a restaurant chain here in So Cal was offering a discount for those age 60. Some of my friends were aghast I would reveal my age but eventually joined me. I recall being delighted when a new hostess carded me one time.