Mark D. Roberts

In yesterday’s post I told the story of how, on my fiftieth birthday, I had just completed a 4-mile run when a young man complimented me for doing that “at your age.” Sounds pretty bad, doesn’t it? Well, I’ve heard worse things in my life.
In 1998 I was teaching a seminary extension course in Downey, California, a suburb of Los Angeles. During a break I went searching for a cup of coffee, and found myself at the oldest surviving McDonald’s restaurant. The Downey McDonald’s was, in fact, the fourth of the chain, but the three older ones had been torn down. This particular restaurant had obviously been recently redone, with its shiny exterior and classic 50s look. (For more information on this historic site, check out this page from the National Trust for Historic Preservation website. No joke!)
Anyway, I walked up to the outdoor service window and ordered a small coffee. I pulled the required 75 cents from my pocket and waited as a young woman, dressed in a 50s-style uniform, filled the styrofoam cup with steaming coffee. Finally she handed to me and said, “That will be 25 cents, please.”
“25 cents?” I queried, thinking that perhaps I had lucked into a special coffee promotion, “Why is it only 25 cents?”
Without the slightest hesitation, the young woman said kindly, “Because that’s the senior discount price.”
Speechless, I handed her a quarter and walked away, dumbfounded. People used to think I looked a bit older than my 38 years, but nobody had ever suggested that I was 55 before. (Once, when I was 19, I drove on a field trip for my 10-year-old sister’s class. One of the mothers said to me, “Oh, we always like it when the fathers drive.”)
I’ve been back to that fateful McDonald’s several times, and I’m pleased to report that nobody has ever offered me a senior discount. This has happened to me at two other McDonald’s restaurants, however. But, being a glutton for punishment, I keep on going back. They do have the best fast-food coffee around, in my aged opinion.

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