Monday, September 22, 2008

The State of this Country and Choices People Make

Being a cashier I see people really struggling to buy food for their families or just for themselves. A couple of months ago, this elderly man came in the store and all he bought was a can of pinto beans. He had to count out his change just to buy that. He was dressed raggedly and that was probably the last of his money. I felt really bad for him and wished I'd had some cash on me to give him. I don't know if he would have taken it but I at least would have liked to offer it. I can't believe how much this man comes to my mind and wonder why he had such an effect on me.
Yesterday I had several customers who were counting out their change to pay for food. Some of them make an excuse for having to use change....they say their debit card is in the car and they don't want to have to go back out and get it. In reality I know that is the last of their money. Other customers are brutally honest and just tell it like it is. They tell me how they can barely feed their families and complain about the high prices.
There is something else I've noticed.....sort of a pattern. Many people get food stamps here and it's on a debit card called Access. Their money comes in at the beginning of the month. There is a big rush at that time to come in and buy a bunch of food, in some cases they buy two or three shopping carts full. While I'm not trying to be judgemental.....I do notice that they buy and extreme amount of junkfood. Many buy tons of hotdogs, frozen pizzas, tv dinners, those frozen peanut butter and jelly sandwiches etc. This is not everyone but it is the majority.
They end up spending most of their money on one shopping trip. I know this because many of them tell me. Then the food lasts a couple of weeks and they are back to counting pennies. It's really a shame that they have not learned to budget it out and make it last the month.
Maybe they don't know how to cook, maybe there are two working parents and they don't have time. I don't know. But then I ask myself if there are two working parents why are they getting food stamps? There are actually a lot of jobs here. They may not be high income but hey, it's money in their pocket. Maybe it's a matter of finding someone to watch their children? It could be any number of reasons. On one hand I try to have compassion for these people but on the other hand I just want to tell them WAKE UP! You are setting a lifelong bad example for your kids. I saw one little kid yesterday sitting in the back of the shopping cart. I asked how old he was and he said 4. He weighed at least a good 75 lbs. And what were his parents buying? Junk! It's very scary and I'm afraid for the kids of today.They are not nourishing their brains by eating junk. How can they grow on a diet of bologna, hotdogs and tv dinners?When they grow up will they make those same poor choices? Sadly, I think many of them will. I wish that people could realize how much more these convenience foods actually cost than it would cost to make the food from scratch. Well I don't have any answers. And I've been rambling on long enough.
On a good note.....gas here went down to $3.39 which is 10 cents cheaper than it was before it actually went up from the hurricane and it was predicted that it would go up to $5 a gallon. I never did take that seriously and believe the media is responsible for a lot of this crap.
Well that's about it for now. I'd love to hear comments on what you think about this.


  1. I so get what you are saying!! And I think you are dead on right about the cycle that is being developed with these kids.

    One of the most memorable lessons I learned in Home Ec class (back when dinosaurs walked the Earth, and they required everyone to take that class) was planning a meal for four on what seemed like a ridiculously small amount of money. A team of 3 had to invite their favorite teacher and make a meal with 3 courses and beverage, using the store ads to shop for sale items.

    I couldn't believe it when we succeeded!! I don't remember everything we served, but I think it was some kind of casserole, frozen veggies, and a fruit dessert. It can be done, but people need to be taught how to do it!!! Shame on the schools for doing away with these important kinds of classes!! *Sniff*

  2. They could also just be lazy and sponging off the government like my brother does. He is only three years older than me and hasn't worked in 15 years. When he gets his food stamps, he rushes out and treats himself to lobster and steak. He usually spends all his money in a week or two and then lives off of my mother for the rest of the month. Mom still buys his cigarettes too. What can you do. He gets drugs for his back pain (which doesn't exist) and then sells part of them for more money. He gets free drugs by the way since he qualifies for medicare. I have tried to turn him in but no one wants to listen.

  3. Indigo Incarnates

    Aside from the fact that the Bush policies have caused triple-digit increases in foor and fuel prices, there are a lot more people without health insurance now too.

    When I had my EKG done recently, the receptionist turned away an elderly man who looked VERY ill. They wanted $200 up front to see him because he had no insurance. I doubt he had $20, much less $200. So he recieved no medical care that day.

    He got laid off from his job due to a long-term illness, but Social Security did not give him any benefits (see, if you're a junkie, the State will give you free-everything-you-want, but if you have a legitimate health problem, you routinely get denied for months or years.)

    It just sickens me that Bush can hand out billions of dollars for millionaires' bailouts and endless war, but there are people in this country who can't get medicine and who have to subsist on pinto beans.

    It is a travesty. But then, that's "compassionate christian conservatism".