Did I Say That?: Young people can detect seniors the way dogs can sniff out cocaine

Joe Pisani wonders how the youth have figured out he’s a senior.

Joe Pisani wonders how the youth have figured out he’s a senior.

Joe Pisani /

Before sunrise, I snuck out of the house without anyone knowing — not even the dog. I started the car and drove down the street with the lights off, wearing a hoodie and a black mask so the neighbors wouldn’t recognize me. As I approached my destination, I looked in the rear-view mirror to make sure no one was behind me. Then, I performed the dastardly deed and pulled into Dunkin’ Donuts.

You never know when your primary-care physician might be tailing you, not to mention a posse in hot pursuit, led by your spouse, along with your offspring, your pastor or rabbi, your dental hygienist and possibly an undercover cardiologist.

But everyone has to indulge himself or herself once in a while. As they say, ’tis the season to be indulgent — or more appropriately, overindulgent.

I don’t have to tell you there’s no nutritional value in a doughnut. I’m a science-minded, fact-based guy, which means to say I’ve studied the latest doughnut research conducted by the NIH, the CDC, the FCC, the FDA and the FBI, and the findings aren’t good. I suspect as his first executive order, Joe Biden will try to regulate doughnut consumption to combat America’s obesity epidemic, in honor of Mike Bloomberg, the Big Gulp terminator.

It’s our patriotic duty to exercise self-control, so instead of chocolate creme donuts, I ordered a poppy seed bagel with cream cheese. In my defense, I asked for low-fat cream cheese, but they didn’t have any.

“That’ll be $4.29,” the young woman said. “Please drive up.”

I reached into my change tray as I pulled up to the drive-thru window.

“That’s $4.08.”

My first thought was “I know I have tinnitus from too much rock ’n’ roll, especially that Jimi Hendrix concert back in the Neolithic period, so my hearing is a little challenged. But I could have sworn she said $4.29.”

She detected the puzzled look on my face as I stared at the change in my hand.

“I gave you the senior discount,” she explained.

The “senior discount.” The words stung my senior ears, or what’s left of them.

I certainly was grateful for her kindness, but I thought, “How the heck did she know I was senior caliber? Was there a camera at the speaker? Even so, I was wearing a hat and sunglasses.

Young people, I’m convinced, have the ability to sniff out seniors with the determination of cocaine-sniffing German shepherds. To teenagers, anyone over 30 is “a senior.” And to seniors anyone under Medicare age is a suspicious character.

I don’t want to be classified as a “senior.” It sounds too respectable, too AARPish, like I’m a member of a protected species. I prefer to be called “old man” or “geezer.”

I wanted to tell the young woman that according to a recent poll — and you know how reliable they are — Baby Boomers say “seniorhood” doesn’t start until 85, or maybe it’s 90, and I’m nowhere near that age. Of course, every time they conduct the poll, the threshold keeps getting pushed back. Pretty soon, only centenarians will qualify as seniors.

Nevertheless, my better nature prevailed, and I kept my mouth shut. I’m not a person to spurn an act of kindness because they’re rare. Even though my senior discount only saved me 21 cents, I gave her a $2 tip for her gracious gesture.

Which leads me to my next point. Never forget when someone shows you an act of kindness. From the inconsequential to the monumental, every act of kindness makes the world a better place, and every act of kindness is eternal.

The Jewish theologian Abraham Joshua Heschel once said: “When I was young, I admired clever people. Now that I am old, I admire kind people”

That’s a lesson for us all. Look for any opportunity to do an act of kindness every day. You won’t regret it, and the ripple effects will go on forever, or at least until you become a senior, and you’ll get there if you don’t eat doughnuts.

Joe Pisani can be reached at joefpisani@yahoo.com.