Friday, March 09, 2018

How to save money on potatoes

Last Tuesday I took my mom to a doctor's appointment after work. The appointment was bound to take some time, so I ran out to the supermarket to pick up a few things. A sack of potatoes, some cat treats, a few other things.

My mom still wasn't done by the time I came back to the office, so I hung out for a bit, watching WBRE's PA Live! and hoping to see if they ran the right episode of the Blog of the Week. (My segment either ran early, late, or not at all.) When she was finally done, we had to run across town to a pharmacy to get a prescription filled - an errand that turned into an hour-long ordeal. Finally, upon getting home, I realized I should run out and top off the gas tank in preparation for the expected monster snowstorm the next day.

At long last I was done. I unloaded the car and carried the groceries into the house. My mom asked how much the potatoes were. I pulled out the receipt and checked. "$5.99," I reported, "minus sixty cents for my SENIOR DISCOUNT!"

I know my beard and mustache have gone grey, but do I really look that old?
Here's the thing: I just turned 50 at the end of January. As with most of my birthdays, this one was met without much fanfare, though as usual my mom insisted on getting a cake. But turning 50 has a way of making you think about things in a way that turning 48 or 49 does not. I put some of these thoughts into a poem that's been submitted for possible inclusion in a literary magazine. Eventually I'll post it here.

Still, senior discounts are generally (but not always) restricted to people over the age of 65. What gives?

I'm not the only member of my age group to encounter this. In response to a question posed by one of my friends, someone suggested that this is actually an act of kindness by the checkout clerks. Senior discounts are sometimes the only time they get to exercise a discretion. In many cases, they are not allowed to ask customers their age. So unless a customer specifically requests a senior discount, it's up to the clerk to judge whether the customer is of an eligible age. And if they err on the side of caution, offering a senior discount to someone too young to get it - well, these things happen.

Or maybe it's not an act of kindness. Maybe it's an act of rebellion, the way for some checkout clerks to fight the power by handing out senior discounts every chance they get.

In any event, my local supermarket only provides senior discounts on Tuesdays, and only on certain house-brand items. Was this a fluke, a one-off, something that happened once and won't happen again until I turn 65?

I guess we'll find out next Tuesday.

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