Sometimes I don’t have anything particularly funny or snarky to write, and sometimes I’m in between more serious pieces. In those periods, I still have things I want to write about, they just fit somewhere in between. This is the fifth post in a category I call “In Between.”
My family and I recently got back from an awesome trip to Disneyland. Seriously, it was probably the best vacation I’ve ever been on, and my girls had a blast.
We stayed on site at the Disneyland Hotel (with a military discount), and we bought 3-day park hopper tickets (with an amazing military discount). Honestly, I’m not sure we would have even planned the trip were it not for the deals afforded to me because of my military service.
The whole experience got me thinking about the concept of retailers offering military discounts and the associated customer interactions. While I don’t feel like there’s any shame in taking advantage of discounts on large scale, multi-thousand dollar expenditures, there’s a whole spectrum of scenarios that could happen on smaller levels across store countertops.
The Gracious Recipient
“Why yes, I am military! Thanks for asking before I embarrassingly begged for a discount myself!”
On the far left of the military discount scenario spectrum, we find the eager cashier and the veteran-friendly business. You don’t even have to ask if they have a military discount; they ask you if you’re military.
It makes sense: build up a customer base that comes back to spend more in the future (maybe… I don’t know enough about retail economics to know for sure). But the best part is, the store checks to see if they can save you money without you having to feel like a scumbag looking for a handout.
The Subtle Servant
“Oh you need to see ID with my credit card? Well, my military-issued CAC card happens to be in the clear display window of my wallet, so I’ll show you that… Oh you offer a military discount, do you?! Why that is just swell, and thank you for thanking me for my service!”
Maybe you don’t want to outright ask for a discount on your $150 Old Navy purchase, but you also don’t want to pass up 10% off if it happens to be something the store offers. So you try this subtle little move. It makes you feel a little less like a dirtbag since you’re only fishing for the discount on the DL.
Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. In case of the latter, a more direct approach may be necessary…
The Disappointed Acquiescent
“Yes I found everything just fine, thanks! Do you guys offer a military discount? No? Okay, doesn’t hurt to ask!”
You ask straight up if you can spend less money at a store ’cause you fight for ‘Merica and freedom.* Okay, maybe you aren’t quite that self-centered, but I’ll admit even I’m not ashamed to ask for a discount from time to time, particularly if an outlet mall trip bill keeps growing larger and longer (damn you Under Armour outlet store).
Best case scenario, you save a couple bucks and maybe feel like you’re reaping the benefits of eating shit your last deployment or NTC rotation. Worst case scenario, the employee tells you they don’t offer a discount, and you pay full price like everyone else. In that case, you either leave the store a “disappointed acquiescent” customer, or maybe you fall into the next category…
*Includes sitting at a desk in a cubicle working on PowerPoint slides… for freedom.
The Ungrateful Belligerent
“Do you have a military discount? What, you don’t support our troops?! Damn commie bastard, see if I shop at your store anymore!”
On the far end of our spectrum, we have “The Ungrateful Belligerent.”
Oh boy. Don’t be this guy. For the love of all that is holy and hooah, don’t be this guy. One of the most painful characteristics that has emerged from our current generation of service members is commonly referred to as “Veteran Outrage Syndrome.” At its root, VOS grows from a sense of entitlement that service members deserve to be treated with respect and put on a pedestal for all our sacrifices and service.
Relax, guy. It’s not that big of a deal, especially since we’re talking about a couple bucks at Banana Republic here. All of your sacrifice and service is not being mocked simply because Hot Topic won’t give you $3.50 off on your ironic Nightmare Before Christmas t-shirt. (By the way, these fine retailers may completely support the military, maybe even with discounts. I’m just using them as examples.)
You aren’t entitled to a military discount at a store. It’s as simple as that. If a store chooses to hook you up, it’s because they are awesome, not because you are. Dial back the outrage, and go grab a Wetzel’s Pretzel.
The bottom line is, be grateful for the discounts offered by businesses, especially when they don’t have to offer you a discount. I don’t know about you, but I didn’t raise my right hand to get cheaper movie tickets at AMC, and it certainly wasn’t so I could get 15% off at Jiffy Lube. Sure, the deals are great, but it’s a happy bonus, not an entitlement.
(If you want to read some more cringe-worthy examples of “The Ungrateful Belligerent,” check out this older post on the “Tales from Retail” subreddit.)
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