Thursday, December 03, 2009

Second Class Citizen

No matter your gender, the color of your skin, your religion, your sexual identity, your age, or your profession if you are poor you are the lowest of the low. It's easy to forget the poor because they are too busy scraping by to speak up for themselves. It's easy to mistreat the poor because they lack resources to stand up for themselves. It's easy to judge the poor, afterall they probably did something to get themselves in that position to begin with and if they just worked harder, tried harder they would succeed. Right?

We are doing better than many. We live in a safe neighborhood, have food to eat, clothes to wear, we get to do fun things like buy a coffee or a cheeseburger pretty often but we are still officially poor. We get WIC. I happily accept it because saving the money on those eggs and milk and cereal means I have more money freed up for purchasing other types of food in a higher quality form. I prefer to do most of my shopping for WIC at Roth's because although I can't get organic milk I can get milk that is local and hormone free, same things with the eggs, and milk. Now that WIC is offering coupons for fruits and veggies I can get organic and local foods at Roth's too. I was pretty excited that WIC is now offering vouchers to cover fruits and veggies as well as brown rice, wheat bread, and/or corn tortillas. I carefully read the pamphlet about what is and is not covered and then do my shopping accordingly. Every now and then I get hassled. Last time it was that I couldn't get lentils because they were not a "bean". That time I asked for the manager and after much hemming and hawing as well as keeping the people behind me in line waiting I got my damn lentils.

Today our fourth stop was the Keizer Roth's. I picked out our veggies of organic onion, pineapple, Asian pears, and bananas then got the local eggs, some split peas, gluten free cereal, Lundberg short grain brown rice, and two bottles of apple mixed with other fruits juice (thinking that variety is good for us). As I checked out the kids were really starting to be done with shopping for the day and I was glad to reach the register. The young man behind the register said he'd never done WIC before and needed help. This took a while and Ivy started crying so I removed her from the cart. Greyson started wandering around while Amara asked me to buy her gum over and over. Eventually help came and then help said, "You can't get this juice. Do you want me to get you some plain apple juice?" I told her that I'd gotten Apple Cider last time and I wanted that.

Then the rice. They said I couldn't have that rice. I was rather short from wrestling with Ivy, asked Grey to come back over and over, and Amara's endless questions so I asked, "Why not? It's the right size, it's brown rice, and it's not organic. It meets the requirements." She said she'd look in the pamphlet. Then said, "It's because it's gluten free." I might have rolled my eyes and said, "All rice is gluten free." Then she said it wasn't basmati or jasmine. I explained that those were specialty rices and short grain brown rice is just basic rice. Then it was because the package said it was natural. I explained that didn't mean organic just that it was grown without pesticides and genetic engineering. At this point I was getting mad, that kind of mad that makes you want to cry. I said, "Look, I come here to get the healthiest possible things I can get for my family using the WIC vouchers. This rice is within the requirements." They wouldn't budge and gave me store brand long grain rice.

Then the woman that went to exchange the juice came back with plain apple juice and said that I couldn't get cider.

At this point I really did want to cry. I fought back my tears and bit my tongue. I really wanted to tell them to go to hell and leave the store without my purchases but I didn't want to have to shop with 3 tired kids all over again.

Now it was time for the vegetables. The trainee picked up my organic onions and said, "Organic?" If the manager had made a fuss about it at that point I do think I would have completely lost it. Luckily it was all smooth from there on out. I didn't make eye contact and mumbled the rest of the time as my food was bagged and taken to my car.

Today I felt like a second class citizen.

For anyone curious here are the eligible foods.


Anonymous Dee said...

I'm sorry they gave you such a hard time...that blows! You would think the few cents or dollars difference is personally coming out of their pockets or something!

7:31 PM  

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