It has happened a few times now. While paying at a restaurant, retailer, or movie theater, the amount I owe somehow ends up being less than I expected. The reason, it turns out, is that the cashier has mistakenly factored in the “senior discount.”
I use the word “mistakenly” because clearly I don’t qualify for a senior discount. I am—after all—just sixty years old, and senior discounts are meant for old people. That a cashier would confuse me, based on looks alone, to be of a certain age offends me.
Why get offended, you might ask? Some companies offer senior discounts to those as young as fifty or 55. In those cases, I really do deserve the savings, you would argue.
The reason I take offense has nothing to do with my chronological age, and everything to do with my cognitive age—that is, the age I feel. As it happens, we Baby Boomers tend to perceive ourselves as younger than we actually are—as much as twenty-five years younger, in fact. Hence, extending me a senior discount is equivalent to offering one to my 35-year-old self.
Oh, I know what you’re thinking. This is a personal insecurity on my part. Perhaps. But I’m a member of the most economically influential generation in the United States. With their mortgages paid and their children raised, Baby Boomers control 70 percent of the country’s disposable income. Can your business risk insulting this consumer cohort?
My suggestion is this: If you can’t bring yourself to completely eliminate your senior discount, then you should at least increase the qualification age. I’m sure when I’m seventy-five, I’ll actually appreciate an unsolicited $2 dollar savings on my dry cleaning bill. But for now, please help me act my cognitive age.