I Age, You Age, We All Age for Discounts

Mister Boomer’s mother-in-law always says, “Pick an age you like and stick with it.” For that reason she was, like Jack Benny, 39 for many years. Eventually she started to admit her age. That time coincided with her reaching an age that would officially qualify her as a senior citizen. Why the “sudden” turnaround? “Well, I want my discount!” she would say, “I’ve earned it.”

Now it’s time for boomers to join the senior discount crowd. The final batch of baby boomers will reach age 50 by 2014. Those of us who have passed this milestone know exactly what happens the moment the odometer of life clicks to the half-century mark: an envelope arrives from AARP.

Mister B has heard many a boomer react with disdain and alarm at the “invitation” to join the world’s largest senior organization. Most received that initial envelope with all the the robust verve they once reserved for the “greetings” from their Uncle Sam. Ignored at best, ripped to shreds at the other end of the spectrum, an invite from AARP is often treated as tantamount to impending doom. For boomers who would rather “burn out than fade away,” they still voice the creed, “hope I die before get old.”

Yet, AARP is unrelenting. Like a hair band guitar solo, they grab that note and repeat it until they beat you into submission. Once you get that first invitation, you can bet your sweet bippy more invitations will continue to arrive.

Mister Boomer ignored the invite for many years. Uncertain about any group that would have him for a member, Mister B’s boomer values — now updated to read, “never trust anyone over fifty … make that sixty.. would you believe seventy…” held steadfast. Then friends and family got into the act and asked if he had joined. “No,” was the terse response, “I’m too young.” A harangue would inevitably ensue, the speaker relating the many benefits of membership.

Actual adulterated photo illustration by Mister Boomer. Your discount mileage may vary. Not an offer or endorsement.

Finally, Mister Boomer’s sister hit a nerve. She extolled the virtues of the AARP discount. Semantically different than a SENIOR discount, an AARP discount was for members. With a family trip pending, Mister B succumbed to the siren call of the discount.

A few weeks later, the membership card arrived. Sooner than you can say, “Adam West is Batman,” the card delivered on its promises. WHAM! 15% off a car rental reservation; BAM! 20% off a hotel stay; then two weeks later, POW! 30% off eyeglasses! Mister B had saved enough in the first month to pay for the membership for at least another decade. By then, the “real” senior discount will kick in. Well, there is still a chance to “die young and stay pretty.” In the meantime, bring on the discounts!

As our 70-million strong generation ages, we may very well break the back of the traditional senior discount. The Social Security eligibility age is now in play, so what’s to stop the senior discount from going the way of the one-hit wonder?

If you’re like Mister Boomer, you may not be all that concerned with any organization. After all, when asked what we were rebelling against, didn’t we answer, “what you got?” Here, however, experience is the best teacher. The next time that AARP invitation arrives, check it out.

What do you think, boomers? Are you ready to save some moolah or do you already know that membership has its privileges?