I didn’t ask for the senior discount.

Perception is subjective. How others see us can vary from person to person, and how we see ourselves almost never lines up with most of those folks.

I have occasional aches and pains, but mentally I feel just as I did when I was 18. But every now and then, someone inadvertently reminds me that I’m not.

A while back, I stopped in at a diner to consume a light breakfast, lots of coffee and the morning paper.

The waiter, a conscientious young man of about 17, was efficient and attentive. I briefly glanced up from my paper to admire him for having a job and earning his own money.

He returned to refill my cup and placed the check on the table. As I approached the counter, I noticed a 10% discount. “Hmmm,” I thought. “My lucky day. The omelet must be on sale.” Nope. There it was in bold letters:

SENIOR DISCOUNT - 10%

Having already left a generous tip on the table, I paid the ticket, but not without a mixture of embarrassment and humiliation boiling up inside.

How could this kid think that I was old enough for a senior discount?

I got in my car and looked in the mirror. Geez, do I look that old? “No,” I said out loud. “I don’t.”

I drove to work and shared what had just happened to me with my coworkers. The younger ones thought it was hilarious and the ones my age and older were indignant.

A discussion ensued about what “old” was. Of course, the younger folks thought that anyone over 40 was old. Those of us over 40 thought that 80 was old.

“Did you complain to the manager?” one of my older coworkers asked me.

“No,” I replied. “I took the 10%.”

I thought about what I had just said and suddenly, I was at peace.

You see, my vanity is only exceeded by my frugality. Or, as my kids put it, I’m a cheapskate.

Now, I embrace senior discounts when I can get them. And if I see that 17-year-old waiter again, I’ll shake his hand and buy him breakfast.

Because I can get it for him at a discount.