Petersen: Carded at CheapCo |

Petersen: Carded at CheapCo

Recently a friend and I were shopping in one of those CheapCo cut-rate stores, the kind that have a bazillion low-priced items that you can’t live without. We shop there for low prices on computer ink, crossword puzzle books, recycled cheap movies and office supply stuff.

The nearest CheapCo store is in a town 35 miles west of where we live. Not a problem. The aforementioned burg has a very fine Chinese restaurant. There’s something special about having a Chinese meal followed by a shopping spree in a CheapCo store, especially if there’s spiritual beverages available at the restaurant. (Clearly, infusion of an uplifting essence is bound to enhance a meal and sharpen one’s bargain-buying proficiency).

On this day, CheapCo offered a generous discount on goods bought by anyone of senior age. My friend and I were, and still are, qualified in that classification.

In CheapCo stores, older citizens often use shopping carts to lean on. Since I use a walking cane, I was obliged to hang it on the side of the cart and lean on the cart as I shopped. I harvested ink cartridges for my computer, crossword puzzle books and pawed through a bin full of recycled movie CD’s priced so low, it behooved me to select several. At the checkout line, I lifted my purchases onto the counter. I unhooked my cane from the cart and leaned on it while the clerk, a young girl who — to my “golden years” eye looked to be about 12 — tallied up the items. I opened my check book and began writing.

The 12-year-old behind the counter eyeballed the check, then looked at me and spoke.

“May I see your driver’s license?”

“My driver’s license,” I echoed. “What for?”

“The management requires the staff to ask for driving licenses on senior day.”

“Well, that’s kind of dumb,” I griped. “But I’ll dig it out.” I started pawing through my card case.

Behind me, awaiting their turn to check out, were four women and one guy. Chortles erupted from the five. Chortles and chuckles erupted into out-and-out giggling.

“Or I can take your birthdate,” said the 12-year-old. “I can just type it in to the computer.”

I remained puzzled and befuddled. I grumbled, “Well, okay.” In a loud, and admittedly irritated tone, I growled, “2/21/28!”

The folks behind me emitted a howl of appreciative laughter. The 12-year-old did the math on her computer, looked at me and said, “Did you mean 2-21-28 or 2-21-38 or 2-21-48?”

“28” I said firmly. That’s No. 2 — February — followed by No. 21 — 21st — of the month, followed by No. 28 — 1928 — the year women got the vote and I WAS BORN!” The 12-year-old shot me an owlish stare. She appeared to be wondering if she was speaking with a walking mummy. She finally tore her gaze away from my visage and tapped on her cash-register computer.

The line of five behind me erupted with more hoots. It was a Peter Pan moment as comments flew like winged sprites. The tall man, last in the line-of-five, summed it up. “I think you’re being carded.”

“Carded?” I echoed.

“To prove you’re a senior.”

The 12-year-old’s face turned a bright pink. I smiled broadly at the 12-year-old. “I’m being carded!??”

I shoved my check across the counter, picked up my bag of purchases in one hand, my cane in the other, exited the checkout lane, turned back, bowed to the giggling line-of-five — plus the 12-year-old — and declared, “Carded!?? I’m so proud!”

I shuffled away as the line-of-five called out more clever remarks. I wish I could’ve retained and written down all the hilarious witticisms — but I’m in my Golden Years which means I can’t remember squat.

However, the above is an entirely true story.

P.S. Don’t mess with old people.