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mathnerd
04-21-2015, 02:18 AM
I'm putting this in sightings because it doesn't really fit anywhere else, as the suck came from the cashier, and not from another customer.

So the last few weeks have been pretty stressful for me and my family. It's been nearly soul crushing. I went to the store today to get some treats for my kids; stuff I normally wouldn't buy, and stuff that is most definitely non-essential. The state had given me a (very) small amount of cash (having to do with what's going on around here) and, since I already get food stamps, it was loaded onto my EBT card. I was using that cash to pay for what I got.

So, the cashier was having trouble with the computer. That's not a big deal. What was a big deal is that she shouted across the store, to another cashier 3 registers down "I can't get the EBT cash benefit to work". I looked at her, then looked around me, and I saw several people looking at what I was purchasing and rolling their eyes. Not that it's any of their business what I was buying (some soda and snack crackers), or why I was buying it (because the kids have been through hell and deserved a small treat, dammit!), but I nearly started crying right then and there.

Now, I admit maybe I wasn't very nice in my response. I looked at her and said "you really shouldn't have done that. I've never been so embarrassed in my life" with a pretty upset tone in my voice, though at a normal, inside volume. In her defense, she did look like she felt bad when she realized what she had done, but geesh! Use some discretion!

I went out to my car, composed myself, drove home and called the store. The manager I spoke with was actually there, and apparently tried to chase after me to apologize, but I was so mortified that I wasn't aware. She was extremely apologetic and said that she's been wanting to do a sensitivity type training with the entire front end staff, as it's not something that they normally get, and that this incident might be enough to convince the upper management that such things are needed. But, at the very least she'd have a chat with that cashier. I'm good with that.

But still, that really was one of the most mortifying experiences of my life, and I'm not easy to embarrass. In the end, I'm glad it was me, and not some person who wasn't so thick skinned.

notalwaysright
04-21-2015, 02:48 AM
Being on EBT myself, I really hate when cashiers do that. I've mentioned before that at a couple stores I have to tell the cashier that it's EBT, and some repeat "on EBT" back. Thanks.

I've noticed a strange guilt, not associated with being broke, but of what I'm buying. I really do make most of my meals at home, regardless of my fast food post. I eat pretty well, and cheap. I don't take advantage of the benefits. But I will occasionally buy something not so great, and am self-conscious about it. Like once I was signed up to bring punch to a party, and that needed soda. I will admit that before this whole ordeal, I might have been more judgy, and would not have considered my feelings bad or wrong. Now, however, if I had heard this called across the store, I would not have even looked at your purchase. Shame on that cashier!

Question for my own curiosity. I have only ever noticed younger cashiers doing this, do you remember if it was a young person? I'm wondering if it's a generational thing... Like now people don't feel the stigma as strongly? FYI, I'm 28 and feel it, but not bad unless attention is called.

mathnerd
04-21-2015, 03:26 AM
She was an older lady; maybe around 55 or so, but obviously new to the job (she had to look up all the produce numbers for the order in front of me), and then having computer problems on top of that was just probably enough stress that she didn't even think about the ramifications of shouting something like that across the store.

I'm very happy with the manager's response to try to use this situation to get upper management to approve sensitivity training. If my embarrassment can save others, then I'm okay with it.

Aragarthiel
04-21-2015, 03:32 AM
I'm having a problem with this now. With the way our bills are lined up, we'll have to pay for our daughter's entire first birthday on EBT, then use the money we freed up (that won't be available until afterwards) to finish our grocery shopping. I feel so bad about it, but we usually buy AT MOST two junk food items with EBT every month. The only exception was three days after my daughter was born, when our card was loaded, and my mom took me to get a whole bunch of frozen meals to last until I got the hang of things. Hubby had to go back to work the day after she was born and it's hard to make meals to freeze beforehand if you don't have the money to buy the food to do so.

That cashier probably just wasn't thinking. I'm sure she feels bad about it, probably because she might be using EBT herself.

bainsidhe
04-21-2015, 11:35 AM
I think you handled it pretty well, otherwise the cashier and manager wouldn't have responded that way. On the cashier side, it's pretty easy to start treating EBT as simply another form of payment. At least now the cashier will consider a bit more before announcing a customer's payment type.

And I just want to say that neither you, nor anyone else who is or has been on food benefits, needs to justify your purchases to this board. It's easy to judge another's purchase, but the truth is I don't know you or your situation. And as a cashier, I'm much more concerned about whether a customer is polite and kind, than about what they're buying. Just saying. :)

Bright_Star
04-21-2015, 09:59 PM
Why be ashamed to be on EBT? In these trying times, a lot of families simply don't have any choice but to be on it. Without it, they'd go hungry.

mathnerd
04-21-2015, 10:23 PM
It's not that I'm ashamed to be on EBT. I do need it to feed my family. Right now, I look like I'm doing fine, but things are really tight. Here's what the outside world sees:

-I live in a 4700 square foot house
-I carry a Coach purse
-I have an iPhone 6 Plus and all three of my kids have iPhone 5s's.


Here's what they don't see:

-The house is owned by my boyfriend, who bought it 20 years ago when he was a highly paid pharmaceutical researcher. He's since been laid off and is living off his savings. I live off SSI and child support. Together, we're barely making ends meet.
-The coach bag is 14 years old.
-The phones are upgrades that didn't cost me anything. The original phones were provided by the carrier for a program for people who are in my specific circumstances. PM me if you're interested, but I'm not going to announce it in public.

Additionally, BF and I both drive cars that are older than 10 years. Mine is a 2005 and his is a 2000. We are both mechanically inclined, so we are able to keep the older cars on the road without paying a lot in mechanics' bills. We are also both reasonably skilled in home repair, so we can handle much of what goes wrong with the 55 year old house ourselves (just today we were digging around the crawl space under the house to deal with a blocked pipe that drains the washing machine).

I NEED that extra help in the form of food stamps. Without it, we'd be going hungry. I do, however, feel a strong sense of responsibility to spend federal and state money wisely. I also think that much of my embarrassment had to do with the reactions of the people around me. I don't think I'd have been as embarrassed if I was spending food stamps instead of cash benefit, or if I was buying something that wasn't junk.

As a pretty determined and independent individual, I struggle with feelings of failure for not being able to provide for my family without help. Intellectually, I realize I'm in a nearly impossible situation. I've got two kids with major medical disabilities and a third child with major emotional issues. My husband left me when I was pregnant with the youngest, and until a year ago, I was doing this completely on my own. I left a beloved teaching job to take a corporate job with more flexibility in order to attend to the medical needs of my children, but in the end, even that wasn't enough. With the amount of time I spend taking kids to doctor's appointments, therapy, and sitting through surgeries and hospitalizations, I'm just not able to hold down a traditional job. But still, I feel like a failure.

To have people look at me and judge me because I made a decision to buy a small treat for kids who have been through the wringer recently was difficult. I'm a pretty strong person, but it was enough to upset and embarrass me. If it had happened a few years ago, when I first had to go on government benefits, I would have been a much uglier scene. People are sensitive about things like this. Yes, everybody needs help now and again, but it doesn't make it okay for other people to announce that to the world.

In the end, this post is all about venting. I'm very happy with the outcome of my chat with the store management. She recognizes the need for training that the company doesn't provide its front end staff, and she's working to correct that. Really, that's all I could ever hope for.

notalwaysright
04-22-2015, 12:21 AM
It's not that I'm ashamed to be on EBT.

I do, however, feel a strong sense of responsibility to spend federal and state money wisely.

This. In my area there is a bit of a bad vibe toward students receiving EBT benefits. These people think that students are just "milking" the system, and that it's just lazy kids wanting everything handed to them. (They still have to qualify, but I won't get into that) I have been told that I look like I'm in my early twenties, so I look like a typical student at the university. I am a student, but not at that college.

I also try to get good quality food, and some people get huffy about that. The mentality of some is "you're eating better than me because you receive extra money for nothing." When in fact I painstakingly plan my budget so I can buy good food. I don't feel bad unless it's announced, and then I feel like I'm being scrutinized, whether I am or not. Another thing, it's bad when a cashier loudly announces "you card was declined!" I have in the past had issues with my card and I remember thinking that it was very nice of them to say it quietly, but I've heard other cashiers not so nice. Once to my mom, and she was not happy.

Aragarthiel
04-22-2015, 12:54 AM
I also try to get good quality food, and some people get huffy about that.

It's always the same people who say "Don't get junk food with my tax money, but don't eat healthy either."

MoonCat
04-22-2015, 01:24 AM
It's always the same people who say "Don't get junk food with my tax money, but don't eat healthy either."

This!

I always figured it made more sense for people getting these benefits to buy healthier food. But it doesn't bother me if they sometimes want to buy chips or pop or whatever. Everybody needs to enjoy themselves once in a while.

As for people judging others, they should remember that it wouldn't take much to put them in the same position. Health problems, a company going bankrupt, a natural disaster, or whatever, and it could be them getting those dirty looks. :rolleyes:

raudf
04-22-2015, 01:30 AM
It's not so much the cashier's suck, like you said, she was having problems and probably got fixated on that and didn't stop to think. Happens to the best of us. May the talk might remind her to think a bit before she speaks, but don't hold it against her too badly.

It's the other customers being judgmental asses. They aren't your parents, or doctors, nor are they paid to take care of you, so what business is it of theirs to roll their eyes? You buy what you want on that and sots to them. They should be thanking their lucky stars that they have never been in the position to need SNAP (food stamps new name), not judging people who do.

People like this irked me as a cashier and still do to this day, sorry.

Aragarthiel
04-22-2015, 01:45 AM
As for people judging others, they should remember that it wouldn't take much to put them in the same position. Health problems, a company going bankrupt, a natural disaster, or whatever, and it could be them getting those dirty looks. :rolleyes:

And it would be even worse, because they would still have their fancy phones, expensive clothes, and expensive sports cars. For a while, anyway.

Slave to the Phone
04-22-2015, 06:23 PM
I'm glad that you feel better about it now. Kids absolutely deserve to have a treat now and then. If you were feeding them "junk" everyday, I might feel a little judgey, but I'd never actually say anything AND it wouldn't be because of how you were spending your EBT money, but because that's a good diet for anyone and the eating habits one develops as a child will last a lifetime.

I donate pet food to Meals on Wheels. Sometimes a pet is the only thing that gets an old, sick person out of bed. I don't tell anyone why I just bought a bunch of pet food because it really makes me mad to hear people say "poor people shouldn't have pets". They are as bad as the ones who say "if you can't feed them, don't breed them" about children. Jerks!

registerrodeo
04-23-2015, 03:09 AM
When I first left my ex husband, my daughter was 16 months and I moved from his state back to PA. While I had a job that I had started the day after I moved back I didn't have insurance and ex didn't either so I had to apply for state insurance for her. The case worker also got me food stamps because I literally had no cash on hand (every penny was spent to leave) and he wouldn't work/pay support. I didn't get a whole lot and I shopped very carefully at the neighborhood Foodland which was a fairly cheapo store. After 3 months, they dropped the amount down because I was finally getting slightly ahead with my full time job. I went grocery shopping one Saturday about 5 months after I had moved so it was March. I had gotten my income tax (ex let me have the whole thing, not much but it helped) so instead of using what was my last month of food stamps and deciding to hang onto them I used cash. Had about $150 worth of stuff, cashier (a miserable old hag I usually tried to avoid) rings me up, gives me my total and I pulled out my bank card to pay (and had used it before there for non food purchases) and this woman loudly announces to the crowded close quartered front end "I need to see ID for that because you always use food stamps" I stood there with my mouth hanging open, the people behind me are staring, the people in the aisles on either side are staring..she was that fucking loud. I finally after about a minute of shock took my daughter by the hand, took my debit card from cashiers hand (she was just holding it like it was a piece of steaming dog shit) and I walked out. Just left a cart of bagged groceries unpaid for in the aisle and I walked the fuck out. I had to stand outside for a minute to catch my breathe and stop myself from crying when a woman tapped me on the shoulder. It was the lady who was checking out the same time as myself one aisle over. She took my hand and said "what a bitch, good for you for walking out", gave my hand one last squeeze and walked away. What was a proud moment of not having to rely on food stamps because I was making it on my own turned into one of the most embarrassing moments of my life. I did not shop there for 2 years until the bastard owner, who sided with the cashier when I called to complain, sold it.

bainsidhe
04-24-2015, 03:25 AM
I don't tell anyone why I just bought a bunch of pet food because it really makes me mad to hear people say "poor people shouldn't have pets".
Wait a minute. People have actually commented like that about your donation to help people/pets in need?! :eek::flame:

Upsetting as those comments may be for you, it says more about the other person than it does about you.

Seshat
04-24-2015, 09:40 AM
We work hard to make our budget allow us to keep the pets cared for and healthy. And yes, sometimes the only thing that lets me get through the day is Vi's eagerness to see me and be with me.

Thank you for donating the pet food.

prjkt
04-24-2015, 09:52 AM
We work hard to make our budget allow us to keep the pets cared for and healthy. And yes, sometimes the only thing that lets me get through the day is Vi's eagerness to see me and be with me.

Thank you for donating the pet food.

In know the feeling. There's no better feeling than seeing a happy dog bound up to you, even if you've only been gone a few minutes, or sitting on the couch/lying in bed with a purring cat beside you when you've had a tough time....

dawnfire
04-24-2015, 10:24 AM
In know the feeling. There's no better feeling than seeing a happy dog bound up to you, even if you've only been gone a few minutes, or sitting on the couch/lying in bed with a purring cat beside you when you've had a tough time....

people could take a few lesson from pets on not being judgmental.

Aragarthiel
04-24-2015, 04:57 PM
people could take a few lesson from pets on not being judgmental.

Some are racist though. My in-laws have two like that, a Japanese Akita and a pit bull/boxer mix. Nobody in the house is racist, though they got the Akita fully grown so she may have gotten that from her previous owners. The mix is the sweetest dog, they've had her since she was a puppy (shes a rhinoceros now though), but she growls at anyone who isn't white.

Cats tend to not judge though, as long as they get food and noggin bonks.

notalwaysright
04-24-2015, 06:29 PM
Some are racist though. My in-laws have two like that, a Japanese Akita and a pit bull/boxer mix. Nobody in the house is racist, though they got the Akita fully grown so she may have gotten that from her previous owners. The mix is the sweetest dog, they've had her since she was a puppy (shes a rhinoceros now though), but she growls at anyone who isn't white.


My parents had a racist dog, I don't normally mention it. People usually tell me I imagined it, or think that my parents trained her that way. We got her full grown. She was a Catahoula Leopard dog, which just happens to be the state dog of Louisiana. Although as far as I know she was never anywhere near there. Realistically, though, it's not like the dog had feelings of hate, or anything. Just for whatever reason, she saw dark skin and went nuts. :o

mathnerd
04-24-2015, 06:34 PM
My mastiff had issues with darker colored people wearing dark clothing at night. I think the disconnect between being able to smell them but not being able to see them as well as lighter colored people or people in lighter colored clothing upset him.

NecessaryCatharsis
04-24-2015, 06:42 PM
I know a dog that was prejudice against men who drove bread trucks. One kicked him when he was a puppy. Friendliest happiest dog ever, and we had to chain all 12 pounds of him up when the bread truck came or he would've done something he needed put down for. He was kicked hard enough to be in vets for almost a month healing from the damage.

raudf
04-24-2015, 09:50 PM
I had a dog who could have been considered racist, until you realized she hated the color black. Black dogs, black cows, black birds, black squirrels, black.. it didn't matter. If it was solid black, she hated it with a passion. The reason? When she was a pup, two fully grown black labs put her under a car. They were in full play mode, but she didn't get that.

And she hated black boots more than anything. Stupid Uncle deserved to have his boot forcibly removed by her.

greek_jester
04-24-2015, 10:47 PM
Regardless of what animal "experts" say, animals do remember things from a long time ago, particularly survival points. Bread guy puts you in hospital? You never let the b@stard try it again.

Our late German Shepherd would go nuts over anyone going upstairs with a carrier bag (a thief broke into his previous owner's house and, you guessed it, went upstairs with a carrier bag). We won't go into his reaction to uniforms after spending the first year and a bit of his life being systematically tortured by a cop (the people who rescued him were the ones who were robbed).

Our late black lab would flinch away from anyone one with a long stick, even my mum's walking stick, and mum never raised her hand or voice to Bonnie in the 12 years we had her. Bonnie's previous owner, who we rescued her from when she was 18 months, beat her with a stick.

Animals remember things that will keep them alive and unhurt. Conversely, they also remember those trustworthy enough to give their love and loyalty to. Both are survival instincts that our distant ancestors were smart enough to breed for.

wolfie
04-24-2015, 10:55 PM
Sounds like some of these dogs are like the (occasionally appearing) dog on I Dream of Jeannie. When it was a puppy, it had been abused by the guards, so it hated people in uniform (of course, "uniform" in Baghdad 2000 years ago looked nothing like a modern uniform, but who cares about a plot hole you can fly a C-5 through?). Cue the dog turning invisible and attacking anyone in uniform.

Slave to the Phone
04-25-2015, 11:47 PM
Wait a minute. People have actually commented like that about your donation to help people/pets in need?! :eek::flame:

Upsetting as those comments may be for you, it says more about the other person than it does about you.

I always buy the same brand of pet food to avoid tummy upsets, but I do shop sales, so I'd always have several large bags in my cart. The cashier will often ask how many dogs I have and I used to tell her or him that I didn't have any dogs, but I was donating it to Meals on Wheels. About half the time, I'd hear someone behind me muttering about how poor people shouldn't have pets. Now I tell them that I have one Pomeranian with a very big appetite!

However, and this is a big one...sometimes the person behind me would ask why I expected poor people to eat dog food and I'd explain my reasoning. I could see by the look on their faces that they really hadn't thought about that before, so maybe they started donating as well.

Several years ago, a certain flavor of canned cat food was on sale, so I was filling my cart with cases of it. Someone commented that my cats must really love that stuff and I told him that it was so the shelter cats could have something nice for Christmas. When I was ready to pay for the cat food, he reached over me, handed the cashier his card and said that the cat's Christmas dinner was on him. He left me in tears and my eyes are watering now just thinking about his kindness.

greek_jester
04-27-2015, 12:25 PM
Several years ago, a certain flavor of canned cat food was on sale, so I was filling my cart with cases of it. Someone commented that my cats must really love that stuff and I told him that it was so the shelter cats could have something nice for Christmas. When I was ready to pay for the cat food, he reached over me, handed the cashier his card and said that the cat's Christmas dinner was on him. He left me in tears and my eyes are watering now just thinking about his kindness.
Sometimes I get really depressed reading on this site, wondering about the state of humanity. Then I read something like this and I reach for the tissues for the right reasons. What a wonderful guy!

Evannah
04-27-2015, 06:52 PM
I was like this when I started cashiering. I didn't understand discretion at all. I'm glad I've changed now. To be honest it didn't take long. Hopefully this will be a hard lesson to the cashier and she'll learn not to do it in future. And really, I don't think what you said was too bad at all. You were upset and embarrassed and a lot of people would have reacted worse.

mathnerd
04-27-2015, 06:59 PM
During my conversation with the manager I did actually wind up saying something to the effect of "Nobody's born knowing this stuff. It has to be learned". She actually liked that phrase and said it was going into her training pitch.

The more I think about this, the more I'm upset with the people who were around me, and not the cashier who made what amounts to a minor to moderate mistake.

Food Lady
06-20-2015, 04:20 AM
Thinking about the donated pet food and realizing that people who are in need can often be more generous than those who have much. I remember the beginning of 2014 when I was getting scheduled as little as 9 hours a week and my foodstamps had been cut down to almost nothing because I'd made too much money in December. My friend, who was in food stamps herself, bought me groceries so I wouldn't have to go to the food pantry. And it's true that we aren't supposed to buy junk food, but also not supposed to buy expensive "good" food. Who is anyone to tell me what to buy? I have health conditions that make some "healthy" foods unhealthy for me. And if I felt like using up my whole allotment on something small and expensive, so what? I'd have to pay out of pocket for the rest of the month's food besides. How would that be hurting anyone but me?

EricKei
06-20-2015, 04:18 PM
Another chiming in with "ain't nothing wrong with being on food stamps!" :)

Hell, my Dad and I used to be in a situation (in the 90s) where we qualified for the things, but just never filed for them. Maybe out of pride, reluctance, or fear of being stigmatized, I dunno. He and I both worked, but our net income was still low enough that we qualified as a household. We still got the bills paid (thanks in part to a very patient landlord) and usually had food on the table, even if it meant shopping at the discount bread outlet store (that's where the day-old loaves end up -- what scared me is that they usually also had stuff like Twinkies that were actually close to expiring...how old were THOSE damn things?!? o_O) or the old "salvage" grocery warehouse (as in, where dented food packages and the like ended up before the proliferation of dollar stores), so we didn't feel the "need."

That all changed when we got to the point that literally the only food available in the house was a jug of milk and a frozen party sub that my aunt had given us recently. Only problem was, she failed to mention that said sandwich had been sitting out on the counter for several hours AFTER the party in question had ended, prior to being frozen...Long story short, Dad nearly ended up in the hospital from eating it, and I didn't feel too hot, myself. We headed over to the SNAP office as soon as they were open after that weekend >_> We never trusted leftovers from that aunt again, either ~_~

I still feel a little weird when all I need are drinks, and I go through a line with my EBT card, water, and some 2-liters of soda...but ya know, I've been lucky, I suppose. No cashiers nor fellow customers have ever given me any shit about it. Nobody here will do that to anyone here, either ^_^ So feel free to keep right on venting!

minkysmom
06-21-2015, 11:46 AM
That's super embarrassing. I work practically full time, and I make well above minimum wage, but do to the cost of living, I get food stamp benefits for my daughter and I. I have been a tax paying American since I have been seventeen, and I dont feel bad. I would definitely rather not be on ebt, but due to my transportation situation, working a second job isnt an option right now.

What really embarasses me is when my mom sends for cigarettes when I go to the store. I know cashiers and the customees behind me are judging. I get so upset I wanna cry when she asks. Now I just put my purchases away and go to a different lane or get my bf to pick them up.

Irving Patrick Freleigh
06-22-2015, 10:51 PM
Dunno if the swamp accepts EBT. What I would never want the swamp to jump into is WIC.

For one thing, I know of at least one cashier who would be tactless enough to basically announce "THIS PERSON'S ON WELFARE" if ever she had a problem ringing out somebody on the program.

For another thing, knowing what I know about our hilariously bad replenishment processes, we'd have a hell of a time meeting the requirements for minimum quantities of qualifying items on the shelf and in the store at all times.

If we can't do it right, I'd prefer we not do it at all.

HiddenMica
06-23-2015, 04:45 AM
I've been trying to get the boyfriend on Snap for YEARS. They keep fucking up his phone call interview and won't give him a in house interview. They won't let him use my phone number, but his doesn't get reception in the house and the last two times we got the mail for the appointment AFTER the appointment so he wasn't outside the house and down the street, where his phone gets reception, to take the call.

We need it, mostly him, but we just can't get the appointment now. Took me forever to break his pride down enough for him to try and get it. He finally caved when he, quite literally, passed out walking home because he hadn't eaten in two days. I try and keep food in the house but he doesn't have time to cook it so anything I have has to be quick and dirty. We work opposite shifts so I can't make dinner for him before he leaves for job two and even with both he's well under the household income poverty level.

Pride is something that is fine to have. No one should have their pride damaged for asking for help though. That is what we pay into things like that for. For people who just need that little bit of help because they can't make it work otherwise.

Food Lady
06-23-2015, 07:42 AM
I think you can opt to go to the local office for an interview. See if you can push for that.

mathnerd
06-23-2015, 07:56 AM
In every state I'm familiar with, the applicant can designate a representative to speak on his or her behalf. He could designate you and you could do the interview for him if he's housebound without reliable phone service.

WishfulSpirit
06-26-2015, 04:03 PM
Look up the rules. The people who answer the phones at our human services office are about as dumb as bricks (or at least very badly trained). You have to quote chapter and verse of the regulations to them to get them to follow the freaking LAW. We sent our re-determination paperwork in a few days ago. I'm trying to find out if it got mysteriously lost again.

Aragarthiel
06-28-2015, 07:04 PM
The people who answer the phones at our human services office are about as dumb as bricks (or at least very badly trained).

That sounds like the ladies at our local office. 90% of what they do is "Phones are in there. Call this 1-800 number where you'll probably spend 3 hours holding before they hang up on you." The other 10% is faxing papers.