I received my Medicare card in the mail today. 

I’m not sure if this warrants a celebration or…what’s an antonym for celebration anyway? How about lamentation? I can lament that I’m officially old. As thankful as I am to have health coverage, I dread my next check in at the doctor’s office.

“Any changes to your health insurance?” the receptionist will ask. Of course, with a small waiting room, this conversation will be heard by everyone.

“Yes, I’m now on Medicare.”

“Medicare? I’ll need to see your card, please,” she will say.

 I might as well announce my age to the entire office. Shoot, I might as well ask if they offer an AARP discount since the Medicare card ruined any hope of being perceived as younger than I am.

I remember a time when I tried to look older than my age. 

When I started my career with the IRS at twenty-three, many people didn’t take me seriously because I looked sixteen. With my long hair, I fit the image of a typical high school student. My constant smile didn’t help, either; I toned it down a bit and attempted a stern countenance. I also spoke louder to avoid sounding like a sweet young thing. The hair, though, was the main detractor from a professional appearance so I often twisted it into a bun at the back of my head—a challenge for someone not gifted as a hair stylist.

Once, in a contentious meeting with a taxpayer, his accountant, and his attorney, while discussing audit adjustments, I shook my head vehemently. As the taxpayer’s representatives argued strongly against my proposals, I felt my knot of hair loosening. My carefully composed image was beginning to slip.

Oh, God, please don’t let my hair fall! Please, God!

But down it fell.

The attorney continued to lambast me about how wrong my audit changes were while the accountant nodded in agreement. The taxpayer, though, had a hint of a smile on his face. 

I made a decision in that moment and, shaking my hair off my shoulders, said, “These are my findings and they will stand, based on the Internal Revenue Code and court precedent; I will not be changing them. The only question is, are you ready to see things my way?”

Both the attorney and accountant said, “No!” 

But the taxpayer asked, “Where do I sign?”

I don’t know what prompted the taxpayer’s agreement. Maybe he felt compassion as my composure was shaken by my unruly hair, or maybe he admired me for what he mistook as an intentional gutsy move.

Regardless, I got the job done.

If my age didn’t hold me back then, why should it now? 

There are advantages to getting older and I intend to make full use of them. Just need to find that list of businesses offering AARP discounts.

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