I really really need to keep my mouth shut more often, but there comes a time when you hear something so idiotic and slack jawed that one must say something. I like to call those my Lewis Black moments.
I like to think it helps me, as Black stated, avoid brain aneurysms, but I am quite positive that the liter of pop I've drank today isn't helping either, perhaps I should drink some boysenberry syrup...you know to take the edge off.
In any event, I was presented a moment where I was standing in line at the grocery store and overheard something so egregious that I just had to turn and say something. Mind you, this wasn't the first time of myself making a scene in public for something idiotic overheard.
I wager one of these days I'm either going to get arrested or punched in the face, but if you will, join me beyond the orange voucher for my experience today.
So today we had our first appointment at the local Women's Infants Children office with our brand new baby girl. Things went as most public assistance things go, at least for me, as I am no stranger since...you know I work in the public sector. So we go through the motions required to assure our continued assistance as we traverse along this foray into Pregnancy Medicaid and Food Assistance for children.
Really I am marveled at the efficiency of our local office given the equipment available to them. While sitting there waiting first thing in the morning, I hear their computers booting up and amongst instantaneously recognizable XP boot music I hear a few sparse Windows 2000 ones. For those not versed in IT, Win 2k was shelved end of life several years ago, meaning this office is working with out dated equipment and out dated software.
Yet despite that, we were in and out within a half our with our WIC vouchers in hand. They consist of few vouchers for mom which have things like cereal, milk, peanut butter (holy cow they give you a lot of peanut butter), but also in those vouchers are the much needed formula vouchers for our new baby bundle Saoirse.
We've sort have been eating a day at a time since the baby was born, unsure of what vouchers we would get since before she was born we were planning our meals around said vouchers. Did I mention that they give you enough peanut butter to feed an army? But today was the day we would actually shop for the week and plan our meals out for the next several days. Because mom is still technically in recovery and is demanded to rest and not drive, even though she'll tell you otherwise...I'll make sure to remind her of her stubbornness when Saoirse comes home late one night...I was tasked today with getting the weeks food together.
So I saddled my horse, checked the Winchester, and set out on my trusty steed to fetch dinner for the missus and childrens.
No not really obviously. I grabbed our vouchers, did the calculated math on what we could subsist on for the next week and what we already had, and set out in my, not so trusty lately, Pontiac. Steed it may not be, but like a good farm horse it gets the job done.
So I had to go two places today for our food. We shop at Aldi, mostly because of the price but also because they pay their workers a fair wage. They, at least in this immediate area, treat their workers fairly and squarely. Their turn over rate from last I looked into it is close to 5% locally, remarkably low for their industry. Indeed well in the way back machine after my wife was layed off as a pre-k teacher, she looked into working there, but apparently as I said, in this area its incredibly difficult to get into. In any event Aldi is a pretty streamlined business model and they do not deal with the voucher system in Indiana. So I went there first to pick up a few items not on said vouchers, simple things like butter, bacon, bread, etc.. and then trekked my faithful steed to a store accepting of said vouchers.
So anyway to the point of this diary because I get long winded far too often.
I'm standing in line waiting with our weeks vouchers...formula, milk, cereal, eggs, and juice. A very simple staple, the most important of which being formula, something that we would literally have to scrape the bottom of the barrel to afford. Did I mention that mom is bi-polar, so breast feeding was never an option? Thankfully Lithium works for her, but unfortunately it would be pretty damn detrimental to the kid if we attempted to save money by breast feeding. Hey we look for those boot straps when we can you know?
In any event I find myself standing in line, specifically line 4 in the express section. There are a few people in front of me and to my right in line 3 there is another woman there checking out. She stands there with a young child in tow, maybe three or four, and a newborn still in a car seat. She is stocking the same stock I am, and I immediately recognize that obviously she is on WIC as well. For those not well versed in the era of vouchers and the lines it can cause, check out can take longer as the clerk has to verify that the items meet the checklist approved, and there is also some checks and balances with signature verifications and what not. The end result is that often what would be a 5 minute transaction for cash or credit ends up being 15 to 20 minutes.
Given that this occurred at around five in the afternoon one could surmise that traffic for the store was pretty heavy.
So there we were, or at least there I was waiting patiently in line and this woman finished her check out including her vouchers and exited the line ushering her child and new one out out towards the exit. I still had not reached the totality of check out, so there I continued to wait. Line three continued to move though, and a woman came in behind voucher lady and uttered some of the stupidest crap I have heard in awhile that I literally broke and mentally vomited my thoughts to not just her but the to the general public around me.
The woman behind the voucher mom finally made it to check out, because it was busy hour and because of the vouchers themselves the line was moving slowly. This lady was obviously perturbed once she finally made it to check out and asked the clerk "Were those food stamps?". The clerk doing her best to explain stated that "They are WIC vouchers, the pay for specific things like formula and take some time to enter".
And this is where the stupid or maybe just ignorance came in, this woman who had all of maybe five minutes of her time delayed uttered "I don't know how people like that can get food stamps?"
The clerk was dumbfounded, it's obvious that she had seen her fair share of vouchers and seen the assistance that it benefits.
So figured why not open my big mouth right?
So I turned to line three and lit up another check out line soliloquy. I turned and told the woman whose life was so delayed five minutes that I or rather my family was on WIC as well. That now thankfully we can afford the formula that my child needs and that without said assistance chances are high that we would have to look at dramatically changing our living situation to reduce our monthly output. I also railed her that because I could not afford health insurance, that thankfully because of Pregnancy Medicaid in Indiana my child is covered for illness and that in the short term future my son will be covered as well. I laid into her as well that I had dutifully paid into the tax system as a productive member of society since I turned 15, unlike some presidential hopeful in Tampa this weekend.
I also railed into her that, had my wife had access to affordable birth control coverage technically speaking our happy surprise would not be delaying the folks behind me a few minutes of their time and a scant few cents in their tax dollars. I also laid into her that in reality chances are high that the woman in front of her with her children, works hard (as she was wearing scrubs and really who works harder than those hard working people in nursing?). I then got a dig in right then and there saying, you know (and this was based on my estimate of her age) the people who will be taking care of you under Medicare are going to be people like those just ahead of you.
I hit it with this just before I got to my checkout.
"I just hope that one would realize that the republican party or more specifically, Paul Ryan and his lap dog Mittens, would want to do nothing more than eliminate every program under the sun save for the Department of Defense. This would mean that working moms like the one you just seen would be under that much more stress, this stress would naturally translate to their job performance and perhaps...just perhaps the nurses taking care of you...while under your guaranteed medical care of Medicare, you would want just a little less stressed. And if Paul Ryan gets his way, those nurses will be paid less because Medicare as we know will be decimated, so perhaps you won't see the changes initially, but your children and your children's children will see an elimination of a program which has literally saved millions of elderly and their families from destitution due to medical and end of life costs.
We have a choice, care for your neighbor as you would care for yourself, or your throw your neighbor to the wolves."
I got checked out, got a few nods and smiles from folks while I signed my vouchers and really felt good about letting it out. I don't know if I changed anything really, maybe just perhaps I sowed a seed of doubt with that one woman but there is one thing I know for certain.
I won't drop dead in the shower thinking of the stupid I heard tonight.