I don’t consider myself old. Sure there are parts of my body that feel old, some parts that feel older than others; but in general I do not consider myself old. As a matter of fact, I am not even officially a senior yet because that designation doesn’t hit for another two years, two months and fourteen days, which is when I turn 65. However, things are different at the drugstore.
At my drugstore–not the one where I actually get my drugs because I do that at the grocery store, the one where I pick up mascara, deodorant, creams, vitamins etc.–I am considered a senior. They don’t use the word senior. They call it 55-Plus Day. So I have been a pseudo senior since I turned 55, even while I was still working full time because they offered a 20% discount to those who fell into their marketing demographic.
What I like about this particular store is that I don’t have to be a card-carrying member. I just have to show up on Wednesdays. I don’t show up every Wednesday. I don’t need to. I probably show up once every two months or so when my ongoing list is long enough to make it worth my while.
I also like to go to this store because I used to be a graphic designer for this particular chain, and I still get to see some of my work hanging from the ceiling. Something that is good for my ego and reminds me that I once had an interesting and challenging job. Then I remember how much I like to sleep in and those reminders go up in a puff of imaginary smoke.
This Wednesday’s list was ten things long, with a few of the items falling into the really-really-really-need category. So off I head to the drugstore, the second stop on my agenda between the clock repair shop and the liquor store. I don my mask and immediately start to perspire. Upon entering, I grab the sanitized basket with one hand while my phone is in the other because that is where I store my list. No shopping trip, pandemic or non-pandemic, is successful without the list.
Usually I can get through a drugstore pretty quickly, but the store has been rearranged so it takes a little longer, more aisle wandering and the need to ask for help finding at least one thing. However, I didn’t do too badly; and I didn’t break the 6-foot rule by coming too close to a real senior who would then shoot eye daggers at me when I swooped in to scoop up sale vitamins during a moment of pandemic-protocol-focus impairment. This happened several visits ago.
My favourite part of 55-Plus Day is going through the checkout. Since a customer can be anywhere between 55 and 105 plus, seniors come in all shapes, sizes, hair colours, wrinkle stages and mobility levels. And because I fall into the younger age group, it is always entertaining to see how cashiers approach asking old and not-so-old people whether or not they qualify for the deal.
Teenagers or young twenty-somethings are always uneasy. To them, most people over 40 look old. Often they can’t tell between the ages of 45 and 65. They always squirm a bit while ringing in my order. “I am 55-plus,” I happily said to one young man not too long ago. “Thank you for telling me,” he said breathing a sigh of relief. “The last woman I asked got mad at me.”
I can’t imagine getting mad at an opportunity to save 20%, but apparently certain people would. Me, on both good days and bitchy days, I am just happy to be my age. Happy to be currently gracing this earth with my presence and happier still that I have, if I am lucky, more years to do so.
When, at 55, I first started claiming that I was the drugstore’s definition of a senior, I did worry that they didn’t believe me and thought I was taking advantage because you didn’t have to show ID. That has slowly changed over seven years, and these days I have to state less and less that I am old enough. Their current question is: “Are you eligible for our discount.” No implication of age mentioned. All one has to say is “yes.”
With my basket full of ten things and my mask covering most of my face I approached the also-masked cashier, a grey-haired women who could be anywhere between 50 and 65. I would put her in her late fifties. She scans my items while I bag them then looks at my face, hidden behind my mask, nothing showing except my sweaty forehead, wilting eye makeup and frizzing hair that is journeying towards grey. She squints then hesitates before beginning her question with a careful voice, “Are you…”
“Yes, yes, I am,” I say proudly before she gets a chance to finish, “but I really appreciate the hesitation.”
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