An open letter to fellow shoppers, from a young mom on a budget

Dear fellow shopper [who might find yourself behind the woman who is taking a little longer at check-out]:

Hello.  Good to see you here at this fine establishment.  I [kind of] apologize that I’ll be making two separate transactions, and you have yet to find out.  Maybe you would have considered a different lane.

See, I’m using some WIC benefits today to help offset some shopping costs, so I just ask one thing of you:  your patience.  Make that three:  kindness and consideration would be appreciated as well.

I didn’t know you were in such a hurry.  You didn’t seem like it from the onset of our check-out relationship.  The exchanged smiles at the start were a nice touch.  Perhaps we could have even struck up a short conversation.

But now, you suddenly seem like you’ve got a lot of important things to do elsewhere.  You’re bleeding impatience.  Don’t think I can’t see you turning away, shaking your head at other fellow patrons.  There may even be some sly remarks in there too.  Am I correct?

I’m sorry, but I’ve run into a wee little problem here.  My WIC benefits were supposed to be reloaded today, but it seems there has been an issue with that.  So sorry for the inconvenience I’ve caused you.  But we’re going to have to do some readjusting here, because I am not about to spend twelve dollars on cheese.  (P.S.  Did you also know that this sweet cashier is just learning the ropes and would appreciate your patience as well?  Maybe you would have picked up on that had you not been busy turning around to roll your eyes at Joe Shopper.  Oh, and P.P.S.  The simple fact that I’m using WIC means that there is a VERY good chance that I’ve got a sweet, little leech eagerly awaiting my return home.  So just know that you’re not the only one that is getting a little frustrated and has somewhere to be.)

To tell you the truth, I used to be a little embarrassed and would quietly utter to the cashier, “This first order is WIC.”  But I’ve gotten past that.  Way.  In fact, I am glad that I get to live simply.  I am proud to have a husband who works hard to provide for his family.  I am blessed to have a squealy little son at home.  And I am so totally happy that organizations like WIC exist to help us out, even just a tiny bit.  So I’ll carry on, unashamed at the check-out, keeping my eyes forward.  But dear shopper, you’re still in my peripheral view.  And though I’m going to brush it off (as soon as I’m done writing this letter), there may be other women and families in the check-out line who may be a little more likely to feel embarrassed, ashamed, or even tempted to shop at less-busy times so they can [try to] avoid the glances and shakes of the head and rolling of the eyes of fellow patrons… just like them.  You do remember those days, don’t you?  When you had a limited amount of time to sneak out of the house.  When you considered it a bit of a luxury to breathe some fresh [grocery store] air.  …When you really didn’t want to, but you knew you had to watch how much you were spending.  If you’ve never been there, I’m sure you might be able to try real hard to imagine.

So please be kind.  Please be patient.  Please don’t make that young mom feel stupid or guilty or ashamed.  And please keep the kind smiles coming.

Yours truly,

Your fellow [young mom, on a budget] shopper


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