Out for lunch with a mature colleague not yet 65yrs who purchased his lunch knowing what the bill would be, couldn’t understand why he was being undercharged. After careful scrutiny of his bill we discovered an ‘elderly citizen discount’ at the bottom which was cause for some amusing comments. The following day we lunched at the same location and my colleague informed the cashier that he was not an elderly citizen and did not wish to receive the discount. As he gave her the correct money, a women in the queue next to him said “You should take it, I would.” He in turn informed her he did not wish to take it “Thank You.” At which point the cashier attempted to give him change for the correct money that he had tendered, to which he again reiterated that he did not want it, the cashier winked at him and again attempted to hand change to him whilst the women repeated her assertion that he should take it when it is offered as she most certainly would. He managed to extricate himself from what was becoming a heated exchange and needless to say we avoided the establishment the following day.
The repercussions have been interesting, he raised the age old question and pun not intended “Do I look old?” To which I struggled to answer “Absolutely not” whilst at the same moment actually thinking well maybe yes which was something of a shock as I hadn’t been looking before.
Something the restaurant I assume had intended as an offer of assistance had in fact offended in this particular case whilst others were obviously grateful to receive such an automated benefit to the point of insisting that all offered it should take it, maybe in fear that if not accepted it would be withdrawn.
Was it a criminal matter? It would seem not as no age was mentioned and it was offered rather than requested with no definition of what elderly meant.
Whilst I do view the Westminster Expensesgate as criminal I did see even in such a minor exchange the pressure that can be brought to bear when others think you should behave in a certain way regardless of your wishes if it is perceived to be in best financial interest of the greater number.
The need to stand firm and declare your core values becomes an ever greater challenge in our homogenised society if we are all not to be stuffed in boxes and labelled Expensesgate.