Tuesday, January 17, 2012

How Embarrassing

Tonight's dinner: Cod en Papillote, Brussells sprouts with bacon.

Between last week's MASSIVE trip to Whole Foods and this week's trip, I took a cheater trip to our local chain grocery, Schnucks, for Diet Coke, cupcake decorating supplies, etc.

But Whole Paycheck drew me right back in this week with its promise of organic, sustainably, ethically farmed everything. Well, that and the story time with a guy from the local Little Gym that got the kids involved and active. Since I was already in the store . . . might as well shop! And I did so well this trip! Almost everything I purchased was from the outer rim of the market: produce and cooler sections. I only needed three items from the aisles: oatmeal, couscous, and chickpeas. (See above re: cheater trip to Schnucks.) I was also shopping for fewer meals since we'll be eating out a couple times this week. But I "only" spent $206 this time, so: win.

Back to that trip to Schnucks for a moment. I went with Teddy and Ellie on a Saturday afternoon and the place was hopping. As I entertained my kids and tried to help load my cart, the cashier next to "my" cashier called over with a question.

"Hey, this lady can't buy HER ALCOHOL with her FOOD STAMPS, can she? No, I didn't think so. I'd better look that up!" And she proceeded to make her whole line wait while she pulled out a three ring binder and perused it for a while.

I busied myself with my children, not looking up, horrified. At first I thought it had to be a joke. No way the (familiar, long-time) cashier could possibly have been so rude, callous, horrible? Oh, but yes, she certainly could. My jaw literally hung open for a while.

As I walked out of the store a few minutes later, I passed a woman talking to the manager. The woman was nicely dressed and looked like she might have just come from work with her black slacks and black-and-white blouse. She was about my age, had no children with her, and defied just about every stereotype you might have heard about people on food stamps (which incidentally, is supposed to be a relatively private matter. as I understand it, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program - SNAP - is now administered via a debit-like card, so other customers need never know who's receiving benefits and who is not).

I was very glad to hear her explaining the situation to the manager and how she'd never felt so degraded, so humiliated in her life. I marveled at her composure. I'd have been a red-faced, shaking-voiced, emotional wreck. I hope some good (and, at the very least, staff retraining) came from such a painful experience.

All this threw my nutrition-rich but COSTLY trips to Whole Foods into sharper relief.


Unknown said...

UUUGH! the outrage!

I was at Schnucks a few months ago when the checkers were talking about the "retarded bagger." They were saying stuff like, he's a good worker even though he's retarded, etc etc. I WAS LIVID.

Tried to stand in line at customer service to talk to the manager but I was with my 18-mo old and the customer service line wasn't moving.

I submitted a complaint online and the manager called me the next day to apologize. I haven't heard anything from the checkers since, but I have intentionally avoided Schnucks for a while.

I agree with you--I don't know how that woman managed to keep calm. Kudos to her for speaking up, too.

Sarahlynn said...

That little piece of maliciousness or ignorance does surprise me, given how many developmentally disabled people Schnucks employs. Sigh.