Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Remember the poor

I took a deep breath at the supermarket counter.

The woman in front of me was using her WIC check to purchase groceries.  Her little boy, tucked into the shopping cart, was wiggling about and happily chewing on a toy (like he'd been here before).  The new-ish cashier asked her colleague several times how to code the groceries and how to account properly for them.  

Over her shoulder, I glanced the WIC image (not looking too closely, hoping to preserve at least some modicum of dignity for the woman shopper). I saw that the check outlines the "approved" groceries, in the "approved" quantities.  The trouble was, the container-quantities listed on the check did not match the quantities in which the item was sold in the store.  The WIC check said something like "20 oz of corn flakes" but the store only sold boxes of corn flakes in 10 oz sizes.  This created havoc for the new clerk - "Do I change the quantity sold or change the per-item price?"

I realized how being poor, using WIC funds to eat, means giving up your time, your dignity, your sense of privacy.  The shopper (and the rest of us in line) had to wait while the store figured out how to "deal" with this situation.  The loud discussion back and forth between cashiers meant that her purchases and her situation became public knowledge.  Several people at the end of the line quickly went to other queues.

I took a deep breath and chose to stand there, with the woman.  Although I did not speak her language, we exchanged looks that translated something like empathy for the situation, the time it was taking, the embarrassment of it all.

I don't know.  It just made me think and to remember people who are poor in my prayers.
How am I poor today?

Mark 10.21:

Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”

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