Our mail arrived the other day and with it my invitation to become a member of a group that represents the fastest growing sector of the U.S. population. Yep. Nestled between our phone and electric bills was a business-size envelope that begged to be opened. It was an invitation to join AARP at the modest fee of $16 per year.
Sort of fascinated yet hoping it was addressed to me in error, I opened the envelope. . .and read the introductory letter. AARP’s CEO invited me to become part of an organization that will provide me with discounts on travel and other services, give me access to health-related benefits and financial programs, and provide a spokesperson in Washington, D.C. who will protect my rights, among other important benefits. In addition, if I join before March 9, 2011 I will receive a FREE travel bag with the AARP logo on it to carry wherever I go.
Shivering slightly at the mental picture of me carrying the FREE AARP travel bag, I looked at the envelope and literature more carefully. Funny thing, nothing on the envelope, literature, temporary AARP card or membership form tells me what the letters “AARP” stand for; I know it’s an acronym, but my guess is that some of you might not know that I have been invited to become a member of a huge senior citizen advocacy organization. That’s right! My daughter Tory passed her driver’s test, I became immediately obsolete as her chauffer and Mom-on-the-spot and I get an invitation to join AARP, all in the same week.
Nudged on by forces unknown, I visited AARP’s web site. “AARP” (American Association of Retired Persons) is never defined on the site and I challenge you to find words like “senior citizen” and “old” there. The web site showcases some of the youngest looking old people I’ve ever seen in one spot, and every single person I saw was attractive, well dressed and, well, you know. Honestly? This must be the “new, improved” AARP or something. I mean, come on! Where are they hiding their real members? My Mom? My Aunts and Uncles?
Clicking around further, I found out what my vision, mission and motto will be if I join:
“For more than 50 years, AARP has been serving its members and society and creating positive social change.
AARP’s mission is to enhance the quality of life for all as we age, leading positive social change, and delivering value to members through information, advocacy, and service.
We believe strongly in the principles of collective purpose, collective voice, and collective purchasing power. These principles guide our efforts.
AARP works tirelessly to fulfill the vision: a society in which everyone lives their life with dignity and purpose, and in which AARP helps people fulfill their goals and dreams.”
It took AARP almost three years to find me, but I wish it had taken the organization a little longer. I’m not sure I’m ready to admit to being old enough to link arms with my parents’ generation, so to speak. AARP is definitely marketing to people like me on its web site and in it’s literature, but as with the great and powerful Oz, I know what’s behind the screen!
Will I join? Maybe. At some point. But I think I’ll leave my FREE tote bag at home.
How about you?