By: Ely Lagajino

Listen to your father who gave you, life, and do not despise your mother when she is old. Proverbs 23:22 (ESV)

Some years before the COVID-19 pandemic, I usually shopped in Manila on Sundays to buy materials for my small print shop. I often ate lunch at some of the fast food restaurants in the area.

After paying, a staff gives the customer a claim number, which can stand at both ends on the table. Another staff calls out the claim number over a loud speaker to pick up the food ordered at the counter. 

One lunchtime, a sales clerk handed me the claim number 99.  Since they were presently serving number 35, I waited. I heard them call “66, 67, 71, and 66.” Then they called 76 then back to 66 again. 

I had three more years, then, to be a senior citizen so I didn’t qualify for priority privileges. But after 30 minutes, since my stomach murmured louder than my mouth I lost my patience and stood up, ready to face eye to eye with the sales clerk.

On my way, my claim number fell on the floor. When I picked it up, I noticed that the small word written under 99 was inverted. When I turned it around the number 99 read “66,” I found out that it was my number they had been calling for so many times. 

I went to the counter and presented number 66. The sales lady commented, “Sir, we have been calling your number for more than thirty minutes.” 

Because of the noisy surroundings, I didn’t quite hear the last part of her statement, so I faced the sales lady with my big right ear and asked, “What did you say?” 

She nodded and handed me my order. She must’ve assumed I was deaf. 

Perhaps if I were a senior citizen, I would have been served earlier, even without a number. It’s a good thing that in the Philippines, a law respects the elderly with priority lanes and 20% discounts.

​The Bible says that when we respect our elders, we will live longer lives (Exodus 20:12)…maybe long enough to enjoy the privileges of senior citizens.

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