Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Same Old Story

If I weren't so lazy, I could go back in my archives and find several versions of this story in various forms. It seems to follow me around where ever I go. Let me explain.

My wife and I are looking for a checkout lane at the local grocery store and see a half dozen of the eighteen or so that are open for business. Why do they have so many lanes when they are never even close to having half of them open any time I've been in there? Anyway, five of them were packed three deep with people pushing full carts and one of them had just one lady just starting to put her purchased from one of those really small shopping carts. We chose that lane unfortunately.

After I had already committed to that lane, I belatedly became aware of the person in front of me. She was an immensely obese lady who had to lean heavily on the checkout stand at all times while she heavily unloaded her groceries with one hand. No surprise, her groceries consisted of six two-liter bottles of pop, two bags of chips, two packages of hot dogs and one box of creme pies. Also not surprising, after the cashier rang them up, she asked for two packs of cigarettes. In most stores in Iowa, the cigarettes are usually all in one of the express lanes, I guess because smokers are in a hurry, and so because we weren't in one of those lanes, the cashier has to walk all the way down to the other end of the store to get the smokes while all of those in line wait. He came back and the lady asked for a different brand of cigarettes. He disappeared yet again and this time I could see him searching the racks for whatever brand she told him but not finding them. Finally he came back and told the lady that she would have to go to the attached liquor store for that brand which needless to say, didn't please the lady because I'm fairly certain she couldn't walk that far. So he rang up her total and not surprisingly to me because I know I've blogged about how stereotypical these people are, she pulled out her welfare card. For those who don't understand, back in the day people on welfare used to get food stamps which they had to paste onto cards and redeem at stores. This was considered to humiliating so they gave them this bright green card with Iowa written on it in big letters across a background of a corn field. I guess this is less humiliating since even though it is highly recognizable for what it is, it looks like a credit card. So here I was, supporting this immensely obese ladies sugar and nicotine habit, or so I thought.

The lady swiped the card, once, twice, three times, each time with the cashier telling her it didn't have any money on it and each time she insisting that she must have swiped it wrong. (At least you always knew if you had the stamps available using the former method.) Finally she gave up and fished around in her purse pulling out one dollar bill at a time, while supporting her body on the checkout stand with the other, until there was a whole pile of crinkled up bills on the stand that the cashier had to smooth out and count. She leaned heavily on her cart and headed amazingly down the aisle towards the attached liquor store.  In the time it took for her to unload her few items onto the belt with one hand, I had paid for an entire cart full of groceries and was now heading out of the store. I gave one look back towards the immense lady to see that she had made it only twenty of the 80 or so feet she had to go and was evidently resting on her shopping cart in the middle of the aisle with shoppers trying to squeeze around her on both sides. I had a feeling then that she probably wouldn't be on welfare much longer as she probably wouldn't be above ground much longer in the shape she was in.


R. Sherman said...

During college, I worked in grocery and dealt with that stuff all time. Several times, I was threatened by food stamp users for not taking them to pay for smokes, liquor, dog food and the like. What really chapped me was most of these people used the government largess used their stamps to buy the most expensive, name-brand food available, while I, the lowly graduate student eating generic mac & cheese, wasn't entitled to any assistance, even though I was supporting myself on about $800 per month or less. That whole experience turned me into a fiscal conservative.


geri said...

I feel like taking hold of the woman's shopping cart and asking her: "What the bleep are you doing?$%^&#"

PhilippinesPhil said...

Ha. As much as you discount him, you're beginning to sound like VDH.

Ed said...

Phil - Virginia Department of Health?

PhilippinesPhil said...

Victor Davis Hanson