On Privilege Cards, 'Senior' Perks, and Other Abused 'Rights,' By the Truly Rich Lady

"Advanced age" is not a fast pass, as we learn from the Truly Rich Mother.

The sun felt good on my skin as I lay on the lounge chair on the coast of the Bay of Bengal. I was just about to fall asleep, lulled by the melody of the ocean, when I heard a high-pitched ringing, which then transformed into a horrible screeching.

“Hello! Si-si! Are you awake! Helloooooo!”

“Mother! I just fell asleep…”

“Si-si, you wouldn’t believe what happened to me today!”

“Are you okay? Are you hurt?” I sat up in my bed. The Bengal sun was just a dream.

“What? No, no, no. I am calling because of these old people in the movie theater! They are unbelievable!”

“What are you talking about, Mom? Can we do this later? Or is it okay if you send me an e-mail, and I will reply next week?”

“Si-si Coo! This is your mother and you will listen to me when I want you to!”

The doors of my room were flung open. My Truly Rich Mother marched into my sacred space, ended our phone call, and then continued her harrowing tale about whatever. 

“So I just came from the cinema because it’s free movie day for people of advanced age.”

“Seniors, Mother.”

“I don’t want to betray my own people, but seniors are really incorrigible.”

“What did you watch?”

Godzilla. I loved it.”

“Did you like it because it was about you? A monster?”

My Truly Rich Mother pinched my arm.

“Si-si! Anyway, just before the movie was about to start, an old lady arrived and, of course, she used the flashlight on her iPhone to look for her seat. When finally she found it, there was already another old woman in it.

“And so she kindly said, ‘Excuse me, but this appears to be my seat.’ But the old woman in the seat acted like she did not understand English. Only after more prodding and a bit of shushing from the other old people in the theater, did she finally say, ‘Sorry, dear, this is my seat.’

“So the old lady showed the old woman her legitimate claim, a movie ticket that clearly stated that the seat was hers. The old woman in the seat said, ‘Dear, can you just look for another seat? I can not move anymore because I am... old.’ Can you believe it, Si-si?”

“Mother, I can’t. This is so riveting. Please tell me the conclusion.”

“The old lady had the good sense in her to find an usher, who then asked the old woman to please go her designated seat, which was just a few rows away! I really don’t understand why she didn’t just deposit herself there or choose the seat she really wanted—which she could have done at the ticketing booth.”

“Maybe it is because she is old and tired… like me, Mother. Good night!”

“Si-si, don’t be silly. It’s just three in the afternoon. And my story is not over yet. So, after the movie, I asked to be driven to that burger place that everyone is talking about because I was peckish. And, oh my God, the line!” 

“Did you line up? You don’t do lines, Mother. We don’t do lines.”


“I did! Because I am on the side of order and I follow the law to the letter… unless I can find someone who can get me in the back door legally. But, that’s not important. Guess who I saw?”


“Si-si, stop it with your silliness. I saw your Auntie Chu-chu and her amigas.”

“Remind me please which one this is. I can never keep track.”

“The one married to the handsome but poor Tung brother.”

(Poor, in this case, means three mansions instead of five and business class instead of a private jet.)

“She was in the PWD line, but clearly she was not a person with a disability because she was still as hale and healthy as the well-fed pet of a tycoon’s third son, if you know what I mean.”

“I don’t know what you mean.”

“Don’t you see how improper and brazen it is! That Chu-chu had the gall to call out to me in the much, much longer senior citizens' line, waving her healthy arms and highlighting the fact that I, your mother, was in a line! And then she told me about her scheme:

“‘Si-si’s Mother, I am surprised to see you in such a long line! You know you can just order a PWD card from a doctor. Just say you have psoriasis or had a hysterectomy, and he will give it to you. He will! Let me give you the number of my doctor, and voila, you can skip the long lines next time! And also since we are seniors, we can also use our 20 percent discount on the food. Isn’t it great to be our age and have psoriasis!’ 

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Ay, Si-si, I was so scandalized, I made my excuses—psoriasis—and hurried home to you.”

“But Mother, you do that, too. Don’t you use your age to your advantage?”

“I don’t know what you are talking about.”

“Uh, you insist on using the Lexus when you shouldn’t and then you act very old when you get caught.”

“Well, it’s roomy! And, when I get flagged down, I always apologize to the kind and dashing police officer. I also remind him that I am a very old person and I have no one to drive me.”

“You have a driver.”

“You know what I mean! I need a driver to drive me in the Lexus so that I can go to my doctor.”

“But your doctor is Dr. Aimee, who is a dermatologist.” 

Hay, Si-si! She is still a doctor! You are acting so weird today! Why are you arguing with me, your poor old mother!”

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