“And now I’ve got to explain the smell that was in there before I went in there. Does that ever happen to you? It’s not your fault. You’ve held your breath, you just wanna get out, and now you open the door and you have to explain, ‘Oh! Listen, there’s an odor in there and I didn’t do it. It’s bad.”
Ellen DeGeneres, My Point…And I Do Have One

A simple task, at least physically. No no it’s not about relieving oneself. I went to the store yesterday to buy food. Emotionally this gets to me, because anything surrounding food is triggering for me. Physically, going through the motions of buying the food, well that’s ok.

After longer than I anticipated, perhaps one hour, I finally made it to the checkout. I pay for my food with EBT (electronic benefit transfer/food stamps). It hasn’t always been this way. Ever since I lost my entire savings paying for health-related matters, I qualify for food stamps. A year ago at this time I wouldn’t have been eligible.

Needless to say, it’s embarrassing. Once the bright yellow card is whipped out of my wallet, I feel like the cashier and those in line look at me differently. I feel as though I can’t even take my phone out at the checkout because people will judge me for having a smartphone. Little do they know that I bought this at a huge discount and that my phone bill is also massively discounted.

I feel bad if I get snack foods. I’ve read peoples’ opinions on those receiving EBT. They firmly believe that it should be used only for healthy foods and they think to themselves “damn MY hard-earned money is going to pay for this b#tch’s snack attack”.

Let me make it very clear that not everyone who has food stamps is unemployed and being “unproductive” in life. I work two-three jobs at a given time and attend school. My earned income has gone likely to my own EBT card (in the scheme of it all).I still fall below the poverty line. I am not sitting at home, munching away on non-nutritious items. Still, I feel judged in the line.

Yesterday was no exception. I made it to the front of the line and was swiping my card to pay. Mind you, the majority of items I bought were healthy. I do appreciate that certain snacks are vegan, and I essentially had a craving for Oreos (>99% vegan) and Skittles (100% vegan).While paying, not all of my items were valid. I asked the cashier to please let me know which items didn’t qualify as I wasn’t able to pinpoint them. She was not the best at math (I blame calculators), and kept saying it was items that didn’t actually add up to the leftover amount. Eventually, she summoned a manager and suddenly, three store employees were working to figure out this freaking simple task. I don’t know why it is as problematic as this. I’ve had cashiers at this store in the past be able to let me know immediately which items don’t ring through for EBT purposes.

People started to get antsy in line, completely understandable. They were agitated and annoyed. I felt bad because it’s always made known when someone has EBT. Certain items qualify, (sometimes even at different stores, eligibility differs-go figure) and certain items don’t qualify. There is often no logic to the method. I thought by now I had figured out the system considering I’ve made at least 20 trips to the store since receiving EBT. The five or so people who were behind me removed their items from the belt and brought their carts to another checkout. With the efflux of customers, some customers thought this was their chance to come to a checkout with a small line. To the first person who arrived I said, “You might want to go to another line, this could be a while; all the other people here brought their items to another line. He replied, “Oh did they?” and kindly moved on. I couldn’t bring myself to say it to the next person and I didn’t.

Needless to say, by this point, the highest manager started also doing improper math, and then determined matter-of-factly that it was Oreos and Skittles that didn’t fit the bill so I asked her to remove them from the bag. I was through with this public ordeal and still didn’t feel right with the calculations. I took my receipt and items with me outside, sat down on a bench and did calculations. Oreos were still listed on my receipt, skittles weren’t. Stuff just didn’t add up. I went back in, regained my composure and asked the cashier to see the manager again.

The manager directed me to the customer service area and cancelled my receipt. A  new cashier rang my order through. It was at this point it was determined that there was still a discrepancy in the bill. The manager may have been accurate in taking out the Skittles earlier, but not the Oreos. The new flavor of Triscuits, a red savory bean flavor made with brown rice was the culprit. Triscuits, people! Healthy crackers. Boy do I despise the brains of humanity at times.

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