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Righteous Indignation January 30, 2009

Posted by A. Robinson in Loathin'.
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So, as I’m sure everyone is aware, my part of the country was hit with a massive ice storm this week.  We’ve got it better than most right now–at least we have electricity–but John now has a vicious 24-hour stomach virus that’s making him wish he was dead.  Neither one of us slept a wink, and once he finally nodded off I headed to Walmart to buy out their cleaning products aisle.

I’m sure anyone who watches me shop seriously considers purchasing a shotgun in the Outdoor section and putting me out of my misery right then and there.  John and I don’t make a whole lot of money.  We’re blessed in that we make more than some, but we’re able to live comfortably because of our spending habits.  Each item I pick up I make sure we really need, and my trips take hours because I not only compare prices, but I compare quality as well.  Anyway, we’re able to save a lot of money by cutting out “unnecessary” foods, i.e. snacks that provide no nutritional value whatsoever.  Sure, they taste good, and we’d love to have them…but for us, they’re a luxury.  Again, not trying to seem like we’re the Mr. and Mrs. version of Oliver Twist, but we have to make sacrifices in order to remain financially secure, and some of those involve groceries. 

Anyway, I pull into the check out lane, and begin to patiently wait my turn.  This trip I’ve passed over a few things I know we could use at the house, electing to stretch what we have until the next paycheck.  After all, medicine and household products are expensive!  As I begin unloading my cart, I have to push the items of the patron in front of me a little further up the conveyor belt to make room for my Pine-Sol and bleach.  I can’t help but overhearing a conversation between the lady in front of me and the Walmart associate, so I look up.  

Associate:  Ma’am, I can’t accept this voucher. (He hands the woman back her “food stamp,” pointing to a specific area.)  See, this one expired a week ago.  

The woman shoves the paper back into her (nice) purse.  At this point I realize that she’s about 7 months pregnant, and I can’t help but look for a wedding ring.  I don’t see one–and whether it be my religious leanings or personal value system–I feel sorry for her.  I can’t imagine what it would be like to be pregnant without someone chained to your side, obligated by vow and federal government tax information to at least sort of help you raise a kid.  I know, I know, sometimes it’s best to have the dad out of the picture, like if he’s abusive, an alcoholic, etc.  I can’t help it…my initial reaction is always pity.

It’s then that I notice that her handbag is more than just nice–it’s designer.  She’s wearing what look to be brand new Nike shoes, complete with a pink swoosh.  She’s wearing stylish glasses, and the highlights in her hair seem to be professionally done.  I begin to look at her groceries; perhaps, I reason, her clothes are a windfall trip to Goodwill, or a donation from a kind stranger.  

Despite her government provided WIC food stamps, she’s buying all sorts of pricey items.  She has special protein shakes, at least 4 boxes of ding dongs and Hostess cakes, bags of potato chips, Air Wick refills, and organic products.  There isn’t much in her stack that isn’t name brand.  I stare at her again; she’s noticed by now, and does her best to avoid eye contact.  I’m sure she thinks I’m crazy, maybe I am, but righteous indignation begins to boil up inside of me. 

Look, there’s no way for me to know this lady’s situation.  I get that.  She could have been laid off because of the economy.  Maybe she has kids at home and is recently divorced.  Who knows?  It just makes me mad to see such flagrant spending when it’s obvious she doesn’t–or at least, shouldn’t–have the means.  I’m not against government assistance.  I know that there are people out there that need it, and the welfare system has its place in society.  I just hate that it can be exploited.  I’m not accusing this woman one way or the other, but it’s beyond arguable that there are people exploiting the system.  They keep families who really do need the help from getting enough assistance.  

I don’t think anyone would argue that the welfare system needs to be reformed.  At least make fiscal education classes and family planning seminars mandatory.  Help those who are stuck in poverty to learn how to work their way out of it instead of handing them band-aids to stick over the festering wound.  It might make it look better and it’s a temporary solution, but eventually the leg’s going to rot off.  

I’m probably just upset about this because I’ve only had 4 hours of sleep.  Maybe I’ll look back at this post tomorrow and be embarrassed by what an ass I’ve been.  Maybe…but right now I’m just plain pissed.

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