by Tom Damron
(Plano, Texas)

That's the exact amount the young girl with the pierced tongue and basketball hoops for earrings at the Burger King Register told me. I handed her a ten, a five, dug in my pockets, removed my Swiss Army pen knife, a small fingernail clippers, two quarters which I handed to her while she stared at me as I resumed digging. I came up with a receipt from Wal-Mart, a coupon good for breakfast at McDonald's and one copper penny. I shrugged, held my hand up and said, "I'll be right back. I have change in the car.

The girl shot out at me, "Hey, its okay. I'll just ring up the Senior discount and you'll get change back because it'll only be $14.16." She grinned, exposing the silver ball shining on her tongue and then she handed me a dollar bill, three dimes and a nickel.

I stared at the money in my hand. My thoughts went to--'Senior Discount! I think she just insulted me! I just turned sixty-one; I'm no Senior that needs a discount.' I reached across the counter, checked the number on the order, picked up my bag of burgers and huffily scurried out the door before I was insulted with any more references to being a Senior. I went to my black Odyssey van and sat there steaming.

What made her think I was a Senior?

I decided I would show her a thing or two so I added the fifty-one cents to the dollar thirty five, opened the door and went back inside. I rose up, marched to the counter ready to tell her about treating customers with respect, but before I could say a word, she jingled an object in front of me in further insult thinking I was senile and would be distracted by a rattle.

I opened my mouth in rage, but was stopped short when she said, "Here! You can't get too far without your keys can you? I had to change my tack and save face, so I responded, "Leaving keys on the counter hardly makes one eligible for a retirement home, young lady." I snatched the rattling keys from her hand and went back to the car. Still in a huff, I stuck the key in the ignition and the dad gum thing wouldn't turn. It wouldn't turn either way. I figured I had used the key to my wife's car, so I changed. It wouldn't go in the keyhole.

I leaned back in the car totally frustrated. While I sat there stewing, I looked at the rearview mirror and there was a St. Christopher medallion hanging on a gold chain. I don't have a medallion and neither does my wife. I turned and looked toward the back and there in plain sight was a car seat for a child. Our child is thirty-one and doesn't ride in a car seat. In the console was a Tootsie Pop and Winnie the Pooh booklet. Quicker than you can say Omega Fatty Acids I abandoned the UFO vehicle and stood in the parking lot

While I was searching for my vehicle, I noticed a young mother and her son leave the restaurant and head for the van I had just abandoned. There on the other side of her van was mine. The two vehicles were identical except for the decorations inside.

I didn't walk; I ran to my van, slid behind the wheel, started the engine and was out of the lot and on the street heading away from my nightmare. I stopped at the light and felt my stomach rumbling. I looked at the passenger seat and there was no burger bag anywhere in sight.

I turned around and drove back to the Burger King. I parked by the door, sheepishly walked to the register and asked the shiny ball if by chance I had left my bag of burgers when I went out. She shook her head and replied, "You had them wrapped in your hand when you went out the door. Why? Have you lost them too?"

I refused to answer when I spun around and went back to the van. I was standing by the door when I felt a tug at my pants leg. I looked down and there was a grinning little tot of blonde wild hair holding my bag of burgers. His mother stepped up and offered, "I think you left this in my van by mistake." I took the bag from the tot and softly apologized for the inconvenience to her. She waved it off and said, "I understand. My grandfather does things like that frequently."

Deflated and looking around making sure that no Boy Scouts were going to offer to assist me, I finally put the bag beside me. I was on my way home with a cold bag of burgers. While I drove, I was contemplating how to apply for Social Security benefits to get my mind off the thought of how I was dreading the explanation to my wife of what happened. I didn't have to wait long. She met me at the door, took the bag and, "Why are the burgers cold?"

I went to my rocker, took her shawl, draped it over my legs and said, "Heat them in the microwave while I tell you why? It's a long, sad story of what you'll face yourself pretty soon."

Comments for $15.73

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Laugh Out Loud
by: Linda Freeto/Texas

I usually do not laugh out loud when I read most blogs or anything on the Internet for that matter. But this post was so funny, I found myself laughing out loud because I can see in my minds eye the whole event.

Thank you for sharing your story with us. Linda

Write on!
by: Carrie

Hi Tom,

I just want to say that you write very well, and summed up what is happening to lots of us in an entertaining way. I'd like to hear more stories from you when the feeling hits. Write on!


Senior Moments
by: Nina from London

Today I drove back home on a road that I am very familiar with...and guess what I got lost. Not intentionally but because I was driving in the evening...all of a sudden I took the wrong turn. So what did I do...

I laughed and retraced my steps (or drove back to the original place). My usual approach is to laugh and carry on.

As for the senior discount I'm sure some people love it. I happen to regard it with delight when I go to the cinema and they give me a bargain. Don't think it's an insult but just another perk.

This story about the $15.73 was good...love the humour (American humor).

"spot On"
by: Ricardo

Hey Tom, what a great insight to the "aging process" that none of us "think" we are going thru till it hits us "right between the eyes!"

I noticed that I began slipping at about sixty five or so.....let me tell you, it does not get better! Many of the things that I took for granted just a few short years ago, such as memory, subtle aches and pains, misplacing car keys, misplacing my car in parking lots, are all starting to show....and it is a bit disturbing to yours truly.

However, with that being said, you and I are BOTH on the "green side of the grass", so we have that going for us! I also often think of the people in wheel chairs and/or walkers, or with canes that I see, and with that am appreciative of what I have.....yes, I am slipping, but with proper diet, proper sleep habits, and an abundance of exercise.....

I'm going to fight this notion of "aging" as long as possible.....let us all remember the "prophet" Ricardo and his sage advice:

"It is not what happens IN our lives, but rather, how we RESPOND TO what happens in our lives."

by: Sharyn~~~CANADA

That's Hilarious~~ lol

by: Anonymous

Oh for goodness sake you could have just decided that the cashier gave you the discount because then you would be able to afford the food, instead of assuming she gave it to you because you looked old. Start looking on the bright side of life or as you age more (if you are lucky enough) you will be very hurt very often.

I admit though that for me getting old is not the tough thing..that's a gift, it's losing my beauty that I am sorrowful about And we live in a world where beauty definitely is associated with youth, not age.


Wendy: I think she should have given the discount, period. WHY did she suddenly remember? It's a senior discount, I get it... give it to me!

Senior Moments
by: James

I think they are called Senior Moments. I too have had similar experiences, but not so many at the same time. Never gotten ino a wrong vehicle. As you get older you need to concentrate more on what used to be the trivialities of life. Good luck.

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