Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Am I a Senior Citizen? Are you?

When I realized I could get senior citizen tickets at the movie theater, I was deliriously excited. Some theaters put the eligibility for senior pricing at 65, but my local theater puts it at 62. I don’t think I expected to be carded for senior pricing, and I wasn’t, but still, I waited till I was completely legitimate. Occasionally I wonder if I could have gotten away with it earlier, but I wasn’t going to try.

And why not? If it was just about saving money, trying earlier shouldn’t bother me. And it’s not like I’m so stringently law-abiding that I’m not above stretching things a little. I think I could have handled the embarrassment if someone took issue and wanted to see my license, but still, I won’t try passing for 65 in the 65-and-older pricing places.

Mostly, I think it has to do with paying my way. That getting cheaper movie tickets is some perk I’ve earned by doing whatever I was doing while the years were accumulating. To get my cheap tickets early would be like cheating the system.

But then I found out that one local movie theater defines senior citizen as 60 and over. Oh, no! I’ve been overpaying there for two years!

This is completely crazy. I take up the same seat in the theater as a full-paying person. Why is there a discount for seniors? Is it to encourage us to spend our leisure hours watching movies? Is it an acknowledgement that we have leisure hours? And the different eligibility ages: is this some kind of theater war for the senior citizen dollars?

Now I may fully exercise my senior status for movie tickets, but you will not find me parking in the new senior citizen spaces at Loussac Library. So why do I claim to be a senior citizen in one case and not in another? Well, at the Library, there’s a presumption that the close-to-the-entrance spaces are needed because someone might be infirm or have other difficulty walking. I don’t. I’d feel like I was parking in a handicapped zone or something.
In almost all situations – except movie theaters, I guess – I would never consider myself a senior citizen. I cringe at the thought of someone else considering me one, and I suppose there’s a lot of ageism involved in that – both mine and society’s. As my mother once said when asked why she was still working at 70, “Right now, I’m a head of department. The minute I quit, I’ll be a little old lady.”

When Pew did a study of old age, the average answer for “When does old age begin?” was 68 … unless you were 68. Then only 21% of respondents said they were old.

So I looked up “senior citizen” in the dictionary and got this: “Elderly persons, usually more than sixty or sixty-five years of age.” Elderly?!? Elderly???  Talk about a loaded word. If the movie theater posted “elderly discount,” I wouldn’t even try to get a cheaper ticket.

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