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Saturday, May 10, 2014

Why are People so Stupid? Part Two: Food Stamp Capers

In part 1, I talked about a couple of strange situations that I experienced while working for a grocery store chain.  Part 2 is about another weird situation that happened while I worked there.   It seemed that weird things always happened in that place.  I am going to keep it real and say that the grocery store is located in an area that attracts many ghettofied people. 

Well, there was this one customer that came through my checkout line one day. Not that it matters much, but the customer was a middle-aged, Black woman.  She wheeled in whole cart full of groceries and there was a large bag of dry dog food placed on the bottom of the shopping cart.  I went about scanning the groceries.  At the end of the order, I told her the total.   

The cash registers were like little computer systems, which could separate food items from non-food items, based on the UPC barcode on the product label.   So the cash register renders a food stamp balance and a cash balance. The customer presented me with some food stamps.  In the 1990s food stamps came in paper booklets, that you rip out.  The EBT card is a novelty.  

The customer looked really surprised when I told her that she'd need to pay in cash for the dog food.  I gently reminded her that food stamps are used to pay for food meant for human consumption.  She rolled her eyes at me and said, "Well he's [her dog] a human animal!"   And she was dead serious.  

I couldn't surpress my laughter.  Even the customer behind her in the line laughed.  So, I guess that I was suppossed to accept the food stamps as payment, because she felt that her beloved pet was human-like.  That makes a lot of sense. 

This customer wouldn't accept no for an answer.  She tried to reason with me that $10 is $10, whether it is cash or food stamps. She attempted to strong arm me into accepting the food stamps as payment for the dog food.  

I should have called over the manager to deal with her, but I took a different approach.  I demonstrated to her that the computer would not accept the food stamps as payment.  Hypothetically, if I were to accept the food stamps from her and enter the amount received as cash, the cash drawer balance would be off.  The cash drawer would have been over by $10 in food stamps and short $10 in cash. 

Besides that, it is against the law (I am sure that she already knew that fact).   She conceded once she realized that all of the wheeling and dealing was for naught. She handed over the cash for the dog food, knowing that I wouldn't cut her any slack.  

People like her, are of the mentality that the government and everyone else owe them something.  Really, the customer should be grateful that the taxpayers were footing the bill for her to receive food stamps.   Since she is getting assistance from the government to purchase food, it is logical to assume that she was in a poor financial state.  It makes you wonder, why was she taking on the responsibility to feed an animal, if she couldn't afford to feed herself?

People with that type of mindset are so used to going into the little neighborhood corner stores and buying non-food items with food stamps.  They are so acustomed to gaming the system, that they forget that those activities constitute fraud.  To their mind, everyone is suppossed to accomodate them, and play along with their game in order for them to get what they want.  They thumb their nose at the hard-working, honest employees in the process. 

Those are some of the types of people that I dealt with for nearly six years.  I was very relieved and proud after completing an educational program and obtaining a better job, at another company.  Working at the grocery store made me have more respect and empathy for low-paid service workers. 

© Copyright 2014  Susan Broadbelt

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