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Opining of a Cranky Old Man

Ahoy Mates! It’s Talk Like a Pirate Day, Plus Secrets on How to Get Things Free

Grumpy old retiree gets excited about Pirate talking as well as harassing people until they give in

By Bill Kalmar, Retiree

Sept. 16, 2012 - For those of you looking for a way to emerge from the doldrums of realizing that summer is almost over, let me suggest that you circle Wednesday, September 19 on your calendar. No, it isn’t the first day of Fall which by the way is September 22. And, of course, the colorful changing of leaves, cider, and caramel covered apples in the Fall are certainly high points, but I think there is something more important occurring, at least in my warped mind – it is International Talk Like A Pirate Day! Now what could be more exciting than that!

For you landlubbers who have been unaware of this holiday, this year will be the 10th anniversary of Pirate Day. It is now considered an international event and, if you search the “Talk Like A Pirate Day” website, you will quickly discover that pirate wannabes are celebrating this day in as faraway places as Rome, Auckland New Zealand, Tokyo and of course numerous locations in the United States. Many of these towns are featuring costume contests and pirate sailings.


Columns by Kalmar


No Learning on The Learning Channel: Just Honey Boo Boo and Dysfunctional Family

No senior citizen cannot be shocked – convincing portrayal that Armageddon is fast approaching; out draws Republican convention - Sept. 5, 2012

Great Memories, Lots of Laughs, and $1 Burgers! High School Reunion Time

50th reunion turns to personal ailments, favorite doctors, home downsizing, assisted living, grandchildren, care of aging parents - July 30, 2012

Is Your “Check Engine” Light On? PSA Test May Need the Same Attention

Author says PSA test for prostate cancer may have been life-saving discovery for him - June 7, 2012

Links to more below this column

Read more Opinions & Analysis for Seniors


Now before we get sidetracked concluding that pirates are evil, “Talk Like a Pirate Day” is dedicated to the friendly pirates found in most children’s movies. Film flicks such as “Muppet Treasure Island”, or “Scooby-Doo In Pirates Ahoy”, or any of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” adventures present the friendly side of these sea goers. So having said that let’s return to what makes this day so special.

First of all, it gives us pirate wannabes an opportunity to inject some swagger in our conversations. Who can resist greeting friends either on the phone or in person with words such as “ahoy” – “avast” – or “arrr”. So for all you swashbucklers out there, this is a time to maybe don an eye patch and assume a new identity for just a day. What could be more fun!

As an added bonus, the “Talk Like A Pirate Day” website also features Pirate Pick-Up Lines, pirate advice from Cap’n Slappy and, of course, an opportunity to subscribe to the Poopdeck newsletter. And what with all the confusion we are undergoing in a troubled world, isn’t a little silliness most welcome. I sure think so!

So now I’m off for a swig of grog along with a pirate’s favorite cookie – Chips Ahoy - while I prepare to scrape the barnacles off the rudder of my skiff. And just for the record, I am almost 98% chum free. So shiver me timbers! ARRR!

Hey Dude - Just Send Me My Jacket!

And on another subject, have you noticed that sometimes it is better to be a new customer or new subscriber than being a long time devotee of a particular company?

Every day you see ads and hear commercials about discounts or free memberships or extended warranties for new customers.

Some gyms waive the initiation fee, magazines offer a jacket or a back pack, some credit card companies waive annual fees, and cable or Internet companies offer discounts as an introductory offer – all this for newbies but not for us long time customers.

Recently I subscribed to a weekly sports magazine only to discover two weeks later that all new subscribers would receive an NFL jacket with their team’s logo for signing up. Naturally I contacted the customer service section of the magazine but was told I was not eligible because I ordered the magazine through a school discount program and the offer was for “recently new” subscribers. Well, as a retiree with time on my hands, I became their worst nightmare pestering them with e-mails.

Finally just to make me go away the company relented and stated that I would receive my Detroit Lions jacket. It has been three weeks and I am still waiting. It may be time to bombard them with additional e-mails! Us retirees can be pertinacious! (I like that word)

Each time AARP offers an incentive for new members I contact their headquarters and ask for a similar product offer. What usually works is informing customer service that I will cancel my involvement and then re-subscribe as a new customer. Seems to work every time. Actually the incentive gifts are not that attractive but I consider it my personal vendetta against being taken for granted.

And while on the subject of AARP, lots of companies have discounts for seniors but rarely make it known. And these days I think anyone over fifty is considered a senior. So make a point of calling all the companies you do business with and ask for the “senior discount”. You will be amazed and delighted at how you can reduce your monthly expenses by doing so.

Coincidentally, don’t overlook the impact and value of the word “Cancel”. Companies do not want to hear that word and if a customer happens to utter it, all kinds of options seem to emerge from nowhere. For example in most cases, the mere use of that word will get you a discount with your cable television carrier and many other companies. Give it a try!

On the other hand, companies always like to receive positive feedback from customers. As such, I often contact the customer service department of certain companies by using the toll free number on the product and then express my satisfaction with the item. Discount coupons and even a certificate for a free product often are the result of the call. So give that a try too.

In the meantime, I’m contacting General Motors and explaining to them how pleased I am with my new Malibu. Maybe there is a free oil change in my future!

Finally, if you see someone in a silver Malibu proudly sporting a Detroit Lions jacket, know that I have once again worn down a company’s objections! Now it’s your turn!

L Bill Kalmar is retired in Lake Orion, Michigan, and is the former Director of the Michigan Quality Council. He is a frequent contributor to His opinions are his own.

More Columns by Bill Kalmar

Oh No! IBM CEO Is A Girl! What Will Augusta National Do? Follow Our Gang?

Click to larger viewThe little rascals of “Our Gang” could teach the boys of Augusta a thing or two about equality - April 20, 2012

What Will You Be Doing With Your Extra Day This Leap Year?

Already bored retiree lists 29 things to do with your extra day on February 29 - Feb. 28, 2012

Cranky Retired Columnist Hits  Slightly Sweeter Note for Valentine’s Day

Holiday also has a somber meaning - 21 years ago  his Dad had a heart attack on Valentine's leading to his death

Feb. 9, 2012

What If Life Could Be A Do-Over? Happy Groundhog Day!

Cranky retiree imagines what might be the results of some do-overs - Feb. 2, 2012

What Will You Be Doing 12/21/12, When Mayan World Ends?

Mayan calendar suggests world will end 12/21/12; end of world predicted many times but we are still here

By Bill Kalmar, Retiree

Jan. 25, 2012

Some Columns You Won’t See This Columnist Write in the Senior Journal

Bill Kalmar as he might picture himself!Fallout from making comments often results in confrontations - time this writer not willing to concede

By Bill Kalmar, Retiree

Dec. 19, 2011

Before You ‘Gobble, Gobble’ Give Some Thanks

Cranky retiree finds something to be happy about – his favorite holiday, his AARP card, Cracker Barrel...

By Bill Kalmar, Retiree, Nov. 18, 2011

Will Jason Be Out Trick or Treating?

A trip to the emergency room... later that evening revealed a severe sprain and I was on crutches for several days

By Bill Kalmar, Retiree, Oct. 21, 2001

Is St. Peter Really The Keeper Of The Keys?

‘I am always amazed at the number of keys and artifacts some people carry around…’

By Bill Kalmar, Oct. 7, 2011

Tales From The Trails: Cranky Old Retiree Marvels at the Midwest

No biker helmet laws in some states, lots of corn for E85, return the coffee sleeve? Special: plea for unity on 9-11 - By Bill Kalmar, Retiree - Sept. 2, 2011

James Dean in Rebel Without a CauseWho Says You Can’t Go Home? 50th High School Reunion Works Well!

Cranky old retiree finds he and classmates have mellowed out

By Bill Kalmar, Retiree - Aug. 3, 2011

Do You Have Any Green Bananas? Cranky Old Retiree Ponders Buying Them

Retirees still flooding to high school class reunions, some even having their 75th!

By Bill Kalmar, Retiree - July 16, 2011

Please Don’t 'Text' or 'Friend Me' Pleads Cranky Old Retiree

Columnist Bill Kalmar may speak for many digitally frustrated senior citizens

By Bill Kalmar, Retiree - June 22, 2011

Rants and Raves from a Michigan Retiree Watching the World Go Round

Royal Wedding earns a major 'rant' but Prince may be right in fuel for his car

By Bill Kalmar, Retiree - May 5, 2011

Cranky Old Retiree Has a Lump or Two for Those Boys and Girls a Bit Naughty in 2010

‘…for the youngsters who might have been a bit ornery during the year there was always the proverbial lump of coal in a sock’

By Bill Kalmar, Retiree - Dec. 16, 2010

Opining of a Cranky Old Man

Sights and Sounds and Experiences and Wonderment of Holiday Travel for One Senior

James Dean from James Dean MuseumJames Dean museum - are there really any people attracted to a film star who had only about three movies? Then again, Justin Bieber, a teenager, has already written his autobiography.

By Bill Kalmar, Retiree - Dec. 8, 2010

Thank God for Unanswered Prayers! As Garth Brooks Says, Some of God's Greatest Gifts

'The entire monastery would pray for me and after a week, if I still felt like leaving, I could'

By Bill Kalmar, Retiree, Sept. 8, 2010

Retiree Columnist Finds Ways for Senior Citizens to Save in Tough Times

Today’s Letter is “C”. Can you say Cancel? Don’t forget to ask for the astronaut room upgrade!

By Bill Kalmar, Retiree, Aug. 26, 2010

How Seniors Can Cut Back on Expenses in Current Economy Can Get a Little Ridiculous

To conserve water how about just using the neighbor’s bathroom?

By Bill Kalmar, Retiree

July 21, 2010

Kingston Trio Ballad of ‘A Worried Man’ Reminds Us Many Celebrities Could Sing a Worried Song

LeBron James, Lindsay Lohan, Mel Gibson, etal - Don’t now how many are singing a ‘worried song’ but perhaps these should

By Bill Kalmar, Retiree

July 14, 2010

The Red, White and Blue Are Still The Envy Of The World!

The flag has become the symbol for a people who are kind, generous and hard-working

By Bill Kalmar, Retiree

June 18, 2010

Do You Still Have Ice Cube Trays? Columnist Struggling with Modern World Bill Kalmar, Retiree

May 4, 2010

No Rear View Mirrors!

A sign of the times that makes a columnist rethink his attitude on retirement

By Bill Kalmar, Retiree

Jan. 6, 2010

Maybe Howie Mandel Has the Right Idea, At Least When It Comes to Avoiding H1N1 Flu

First concern for me is the customary shaking of hands us Catholics engage in at Mass

By Bill Kalmar, Retiree

Sept. 3, 2009

Lots a ‘Jerks’ in the News Drawing the Ire of the Grouchy Old Man from Michigan

Palin is obviously ready to assume the role of “national joke” and I say that from a lifetime of voting Republican!

By Bill Kalmar, Retiree

July 16, 2009

Cranky Old Man Explains How Retirement Works for Those Who Worry What to Do

For those who think retirement is time to prepare for one’s “dirt nap”, think again! 

By Bill Kalmar, Retiree

June 22, 2009

Seniors Body Clock Ticking Better than Ever after Robotic Surgery Removes Prostate Cancer

An anniversary to savor with a 8 miles of running and 18-mile bike ride

By Bill Kalmar, Retiree

May 28, 2009



It’s Hard to Be Cranky with Quality and Customer Service On the Rebound

That was the week that was! I'm not even cranky anymore!

By Bill Kalmar, Retiree

May 1, 2009

Believe It or Not, the Cranky Old Man Has Some Things He Likes

Wisest choice - wife of 45 years who has put up with his idiosyncrasies and being a cranky old man

By Bill Kalmar, Retiree

Feb. 23, 2009

It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, Says Our Cranky Old Man

He is mad, really mad and wants you to know the reasons; they may be making you mad, too

By Bill Kalmar, Retiree

Feb. 10, 2009

Disgusting: Babies in Public, Kids Gone Wild, Adults Unaware of Digital TV, Sports Taking Over Family

By Bill Kalmar, Retiree

Jan. 12, 2009

A Retiree’s Lament: Stop The World I Want To Get Off!

Editor’s Note: Ever wonder why people often refer to senior citizens as “cranky old men.” Read this column by our occasional contributor, who is a retired senior.

By Bill Kalmar, Retiree

Dec. 31, 2008

Top Ten Things One Senior Citizen Wants When Holiday Shopping

Editor’s Note: Ever wonder why people often refer to senior citizens as “cranky old men.” Read this column by our occasional contributor, who is a retired senior.

By Bill Kalmar

Dec. 3, 2008

New Adventures of An Old Senior Citizen or Facing the Reality of Aging

Watching Old Christine acclimate herself to new challenges impacted me as I entered 2008 looking forward to turning 65

By Bill Kalmar

Sept. 12, 2008

Workplace Not Like When We Were There – It's the Corporate Running of the Bulls

By Bill Kalmar

October 3, 2006

Thoughts of a Retiree in His Hammock on a Dog Day Afternoon

By Bill Kalmar

July 12, 2006

Is It Armageddon For Customer Service?

By Bill Kalmar, retired

Aug. 26, 2005

Retirement - I’m Lovin’ It!

By Bill Kalmar, retired

Aug. 1, 2005 - Many senior citizens approach their golden years and retirement with trepidation.  Not me.  I retired two years ago after forty years in the business world and am now looking forward to my next forty years in a lifestyle filled with excitement, fulfillment and a schedule of my own making.  Each day is a new adventure and I’m ecstatic to be going along for the ride! Read more...


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