If life is a highway, I want my senior discounts all trip long

I was on another road trip. Not the kind in a car on asphalt. I mean the unreliable road that twists through my memory banks on its way to the Land of Nostalgia.

On this trip, I peeked into the “Burt’s Eye View” archives to recall what I was whining about 20 years ago. There were the usual things — not enough hours or chocolate in a day, my bosses expecting me to actually commit acts of work for my paycheck, and shooing young punks off my lawn.

Life is exhausting.

Twenty years later, I realize that I was still a young punk myself and needed to get off my own lawn.

Come to think of it, I did so as much as possible. That’s why the weeds grew so high — I couldn’t stay off my lawn and mow it at the same time.

(This is a landscaping tip for all you old, lazy guys. When she pointedly hints, “The grass is a little out of control, don’t you think, dear?” you can snap, “I said, ‘Everyone get off my lawn, now!’ I’m part of ‘everyone’ ain’t I? You expect me to violate my own orders? Use your head, woman!” Then you probably should duck because she’s about to use YOUR head for some unpleasantness. But I digress.)

What I wrote back on Feb. 20, 2004, in these pages was this:

I ordered a burger, rings and a Coke, but it appeared the sweet young girl behind the cash register shorted me an item.

“It should cost more than that,” I said.

“Oh, I gave you the senior citizens discount,” she chirped brightly.

“The senior cit… I’m only 44!” I sputtered.

The little punk quickly said, “Oh, I give everybody discounts.” But she couldn’t look me in these weary ol’ hazel eyes when she said it. She turned her back to pour me a Geritol.

Don’t I at least have to be carded? … The moral dilemma is whether I should throw the money back across the counter or just dodder politely and accept the discounts.

Fast forward two decades (20 years did forward plenty fast; I needed a seat belt), and little punks and wrinkle-free twerps still are giving me senior discounts without asking for ID. But now I accept them without complaint. I have met the fossil and I am he.

I marveled back then at all the changes time had wrought. It’s even crazier now.

Let’s take a road trip back to last century. That’s right, I was born way back in the 1900s.

The year I was born started out with 48 stars on the U.S. flag. Prayer not only was permitted in school, it was encouraged.

There were no Beatles, no Rolling Stones and Elvis was in the Army.

There were no weather apps on our phones; instead of scrolling through a screen, we had to look out the screen door to decide whether to take an umbrella. (A gushing downpour was a pretty good hint; these may have been primitive days, but we weren’t totally useless without Google.)

Telephones, cumbersome blocks that seem to weigh 25 pounds or so, were bolted to walls or weighed down desks. Phones never fit in pants pockets.

Streaming meant lashing together logs for a float down the creek. As for TV, with a rooftop antenna, you could pull in three and sometimes four snowy channels, all in black and white. The world didn’t turn into a living color until I was about 7 years old.

Long car rides were passed not with video games, in-car satellite TV, but by playing the license plate game — or the “I’m not touching you” game, until Dad threatened to turn this car around right now.

We were tooling down a new system of highways called interstates. If we needed to stop for gas, a serviceman in a cap would pump it, check the oil, wash the windshield and give us trading stamps or dishes or commemorative coins — all for 24 cents a gallon.

You know, it IS time to admit that I am ol…, ol…, uh, not as young as I used to be — definitely not as young as I was 20 years ago when I whined about being treated like an old man. But I never complain about senior discounts anymore. Gladly accepted on this road trip down Memory Lane.

Now get off my lawn.

Take Cole out to dinner — early hours only — and receive a sweet senior discount at burton.w.cole@gmail.com or the Burton W. Cole page on Facebook.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

Starting at $2.99/week.

Subscribe Today