Kay Hoflander writes "Full Circle" for The Examiner each week. Read more of these stories on her Web site at kayhoflander.com

“Mind if I take this seat,” the gentleman asked as he squeezed in the middle seat on the plane. I was on the aisle, always my preference, and a young woman who was reading a medical school entrance exam book, sat by the window.

I did not mind a bit as he appeared pleasant enough and might be an interesting conversationalist.

The young woman was  absorbed in her studies, and I doubt she heard a single word of our conversation that lasted nearly the entire flight. If she had, she would have yawned.

That is because it was about topics that interest my age group, certainly not hers.

We talked about travel, grown kids, grandkids, favorite cities, past jobs, retirement, but mostly Social Security.

Yes, I hate to admit it, I am having conversations with complete strangers these days about whether or not to take the early-bird payout and grab those Social Security benefits while I can.

You, too?

Apparently, the question is coming up seemingly everywhere I go and with others my age, because the first big wave of boomers will soon reach the grab-the-money-and-run plateau at age 62.

I am not there yet, mind you, but find it interesting that when the subject does come up others like me quickly point out they are simply looking ahead.

Does not mean they are 62 yet, they make abundantly clear. Me, too, because heaven forbid anyone should think I might be 62, right?

But I digress. Back to the conversation on the plane. We talked of options. Wait until age 66 when Social Security benefits will go up slightly, or wait until age 70 when benefits could nearly double and one can make all the additional money one wants and still draw benefits.

The conventional advice is to wait for the big check and play the long game.

However, when I speak randomly with strangers about this as I did on this recent flight or when I discuss the question with hubby, trusted friends or grown children, I get the same advice.

“Take the quick upfront money and run,” they tell me.

This advice can only mean two things: Either I have a sign on my forehead that says, “you are about to get hit by a truck so take the money, stupid,” or Social Security will be bankrupt, and I will never collect the full benefits if I wait.

Neither option looks particularly rosy.

And since the random stranger on the plane agrees, that makes me feel better about my decision.

Advice from arbitrary strangers works fine for me.

I am playing the short game.