Friday, August 27, 2010

Compassion

CJ has been home from Iraq now for exactly three months today. It has been a struggle on so many levels. He gets up bright and early every morning looking for work, until the late hours of the day and then again after the children are asleep. I watch him toil over it all. Resume writes, re-writes, re-words...submissions, contacting everyone he can think of. Good friends and past co-workers putting in good words for him, walking resumes into hiring managers....And nothing...

He has returned today from taking a two week Navy AT (annual training) in Washington DC, to try to make some job contacts with people back there. Crossing our fingers that something comes through quickly.

Living off of unemployment is a challenge. Basically it is less than 50% of what the Navy pay was when he was on Active Duty. And, Navy pay was significantly less than what he was bringing home from his civilian work. Times are tough...

So I took the step to see if we could get a little help with groceries for our family. We qualified, for the Basic Food program (food stamps) and also for WIC, where they give you "checks" for your children under the age of five for staples like milk, cheese, bread, fresh fruit and veggies, etc. And this is where my story comes in for today...

I went to the grocery store to use the fruit and veggie WIC check, and also one for some milk, dry beans and fruit juice. Unfortunately my choice of checker was not a good one. The checks are a rather tedious chore for the checkers to use...the state is very specific on brands, sizes, amounts etc. and you have to show ID, sign, blah, blah, blah, for each one you use. Anyway, the checker I went to was brash and loud and proceeded to basically tell the world that I was using WIC. She wasn't sure how to use the fruit one, and yelled across to a fellow checker; "Hey, she's using a WIC check for $6 worth of fruit and veggies...How do I ring that up". Ok, could I have been more mortified...the store wasn't crazy busy, but there were other patrons in line behind me, watching as I sink into a pool of embarrassment. All the while trying to keep my chin up for my children who were watching and listening to all of the commotion. Studying my face to make sure everything was ok...

I finished my transaction, and slunk out of the store. Vowing to try to not put my children thru that humiliation again, and to come in the middle of the night or something when I can endure the questions and looks of others.

Be kind to people, be compassionate...you never know people's stories or how they got to where they are. You never walk in people's shoes and you never know if some day you might need a little help too. I don't think the checker did it maliciously. I just don't think she realized what an experience that was for me. I hope someone can pull her aside and help her understand what that felt like. If I had had a little more strength and courage, I probably would have done it myself.

1 comment:

Kamie Kahlo said...

Ugh. That's so hard to read. Life is so hard right now, isn't it? You really do never know. It's so easy to judge, so difficult to help. Why I have no idea. You need your strength for you and your family. Forget her as she has forgotten.