RFD Maine -- Tom enjoys official 'geezer' status
As a young man, becoming a senior citizen seemed terribly far away. It was like one of those things that could never happen to me. But it did, of course. This past September I turned 65.
Now, here’s the odd thing. I don’t feel any older. My activity level remains the same, and in fact, I haven’t slowed down a bit, not one particle. For example, this past bird-hunting season saw me covering ground like the proverbial “sidehill cougar,” pushing through brush and brambles in alder stands and overgrown clear-cuts all over Waldo County. And my brook-fishing efforts have only increased. Imagine an “old” guy walking for miles, uphill and down, and scrambling along precipitous banks in order to reach some remote hole on a little, backwoods trout stream. That’s me, though, an active senior.
But officially, I’m a “geezer.” And with being a geezer comes a slew of perks and benefits that on one the hand have great allure and on the other hand seem quite unwarranted.
For instance, why should a hale and hearty guy, me, get a senior discount at the local food co-op? I don’t visit that place much, to be sure, but once in a while it seems they are the only retailer that carries a specialty item that some new recipe calls for. And on Tuesdays, seniors, people 65 and over, get a discount. It’s too good to turn down, of course, so I avail myself of it.
And then we have Medicare. All of a sudden, I found myself the recipient of a Medicare card. Now, my medical costs are diminished by a large amount. This explains why, after years of putting it off and holding my eye doctor at arm’s length, I finally had laser treatment for glaucoma. On one hand, this boon seems somewhat undeserved. But then again, my work history began before Medicare went into effect, so I have paid into it since its inception.
The big perk, though, came in the form of a lifetime fishing and hunting license from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife (DIF&W). This was the one thing that made me envious of senior citizens. So many times some friend, an older person, would brag about not having to buy another license. And that, in my mind, was the holy grail of seniordom.
The way it works is, DIF&W has a sliding scale by which people of different ages pay ever-decreasing prices for their lifetime licenses. At 70, the thing is free. But at 65, the cost was $80. Even better, upon checking on this, I learned that we can trade in our current fishing and hunting licenses at any time during the year we turn 65. So my lifetime license would only cost me an additional $30.
This was such an auspicious occasion that I chose to drive to Augusta to do it. While it was possible to get a form from the town clerk and send it to Augusta along with copies of various forms of identification and a check for 30 bucks, that seemed a poor way to mark the moment.
My trip to DIF&W in Augusta worked out wonderfully. The lady in their licensing department was cordial and very helpful. I left the place happy, with a lifetime Maine hunting and fishing license in hand.
While in Augusta, I had planned to go to the Department of Conservation and pick up a free senior citizen park pass for our state parks and historic sites. The people at DIF&W didn’t know the address, though, but gave me a brochure from the Department of Conservation. It showed an address of 22 State House Station, Augusta. So I went to the State House.
My last visit to that august edifice was well over 40 years ago, when I worked for the then “Department of Parks And Recreation” as a park ranger. And they were located in the State House. Back then, it was easy to simply walk in, check the directory and visit whatever office you needed to see. That has changed.
Upon entering a curious type of folding door, I was stopped at a desk where someone held out a large bowl, which I knew was for me to put my metal items in. I didn’t just walk out of the cornfield yesterday, you know. Two uniformed, armed police officers gave me a stern look-over, too.
The guy holding the bowl asked what I wanted and without putting my watch, keys, ring and pocket knife in it, I told him I wanted to go to Department of Conservation. He gave me a blank look and so did the two officers. I told them that I hadn’t been to the State House for a very long time and they relaxed a bit. The guy at the desk said that the lady sitting next to him would call around and find the address for me, it no longer being in the State House.
I was sent through the rotary and back across the bridge and onto Route 201, and there saw a number of state office buildings, but not the one for Conservation. So I stopped in at the State Police Barracks. A man there told me that I would have to cross the bridge again and go to the other side of town. Having now twice successfully crossed the bridge and negotiated the Augusta rotary, I decided not to press my luck and so went home. But not before stopping at Emery’s Meats in Augusta to pick up some of their native beef, and also pulling into Hussy’s Hardware in Windsor and enjoying a pulled pork sandwich in celebration of the acquisition of my lifetime fishing and hunting license. Hussey’s, by the way, is the place that advertises “Guns, Wedding Gowns and Cold Beer.”
All in all, it was a good day. I reveled in being a geezer and now I dream of going out fishing and using my new license for the first time.
Regarding the Department of Conservation, I went to their website and found that senior passes are available from any state park. So come spring, when the parks open, that will make for another day to celebrate geezerhood.
And by the way, for anyone contemplating visiting any of the state offices in Augusta, remember that “State House Station” is only a mailing address and does not indicate that that particular office is located in the State House. Live and learn, they say.
For you younger folks out there, I can tell you with firm assurance that becoming an official old-timer opens a whole new chapter to life. Honest-to-goodness, it ain’t half bad.