Friday, March 30, 2007

Random Stuff

"Between two evils, I always pick the one I never tried before." -Mae West

- I've decided to start every post with a quote from Mae West, one of my personal heroes, though I've never seen any of her films. I just plain like what she had to say and wish I'd come up with it myself....and it makes me happy! (Now let's hope I remember to do this!)

- Hubby and my oldest daughter are going on a YMCA Princess Guide camp out this weekend (don't get me started on the name of this program), so baby E and I will have the whole weekend to ourselves - cool! I think we'll visit our university's annual plant fair and see what strikes my fancy, as I've been up to some planting. I'm still looking for a lemon tree. They're really pretty, and you just can't believe how great the fragrance is - even when the lemon is just beginning.

- I haven't talked to my mom in over a week. This is really rare. I'm wondering why she hasn't called, but I'm guessing it's b/c she assumes I'm really busy since I haven't called. I think she thinks I need her too much. I'm not sure what the "too much" is... She's the only real parent I have b/c my natural father isn't in regular contact w/me, and my stepfather is happy to just be that. My mom's my best friend. I talk to her about everything except sex and some financial stuff. But, true to my mom's nature, she's most concerned w/getting me (as her child) to an "independent" state of life. One in which I'm emotionally and financially secure enough that I'd be okay if she died. Now isn't that a lovely thought? What a mom!

- I'm calling a the manager of a local grocery store today to report a problem I had with a checker yesterday. Since I was unable to continue breastfeeding baby E, I had to switch to formula, and following wwwmama's advice, I signed up for WIC (totally eligible considering both hubby and I are broke grad students). So, I go to the store to get groceries, which includes the monthly WIC items: milk, cheese, eggs, juice (I skip the cereal). Usually, I go to Store A to get my groceries, but I was on the other side of town - close to home - so I just went to Store B on the way home. After getting my stuff, I place each order on the belt: regular money stuff, WIC items, baby WIC items, each separated by one of those little sticks. The checker lady - Mary - courteously scans my first set of items, rings me up, and I pay. Then, I let her know that the next two sets of things are mine also, but they're WIC. PRESTO CHANGO!!! I've now become the scum of the earth apparently!

She tosses the pen to me, saying "Sign em" and looking irritated. She starts with the milk, which, for some reason, won't ring up properly. She mumbles something about it being skim and then just leaves the register w/out saying anything to me. She goes over to customer service, where she finds a young woman who explains something I can't hear as she's walking off, and then returns to the register and sets the milk aside. Still, no word on what the hell the problem is. She rings up the eggs. Fine. She rings up the juice. Fine. She tries to ring up the cheese. Problem. Now, keep in mind, I've been using WIC coupons since November, so I know the routine. I know what products are allowed, and I get the same thing from Store A all the time, with no problem, and no attitude. As Mary continues her efforts to ring up the 2 lb block of store brand, least expensive marble cheddar, she continues to mumble under her breath. I can't hear what she's mumbling, but it's an obviously uncomfortable position to be in. Still no go with the cheese. So what's she do??? She leaves again. No explanation, no nothing. Just takes my cheese and milk and starts walking to the back of the store. Doo, de, doo, doo, doo..There I am, with my baby in the carrier and a line of people behind me at the register. I've been spotlighted as the obvious welfare mom, and this just happens to be the freakin day I didn't wear my wedding ring, so I'm thinking that everyone's now convinced that I'm a single mom "milkin the system wit no baby daddy."

Mary returns with some other brand of milk and 2 packages of sliced American cheese. WTF?!? I don't care about the milk; it's the same thing, different brand. Whatever. But the cheese?? I say, "What's the problem?" She says, "I don't know, it just wouldn't take it." No apology, no nothing, despite me telling her "I'll go just keep going to Store A from now on, since I never have any problems with this there." She holds up the packages of sliced American cheese, and I just shake my head and give her the "why the fuck would I want that shit, when I obviously was trying to get something else" look. She puts it away. I ask her what the store manager's name is, and she says "last name." I say, "Is there a first name?" She gives it to me and watches as I write down the manager's name next to hers on a slip of paper. As the kind, obviously-feeling-sorry-for-me, brand new Sacker Boy puts the last bag in my basket, Mary says insincerely and monotonously, "Sorry for the confusion." Sacker Boy nicely says "Thank you, ma'am, you have a nice day." I ignore Mary, and look Sacker Boy in the eye, reciprocating his farewell. I walk out of the store with tears in my eyes, my face turning red and hot, my brain already churning through the plots for calling in a complaint (how it should be worded, how to get Mr. Manager to understand my situation and empathize, etc.). I silently vow in the car that I will never, no matter what, ever ever be on WIC again. I vow that no circumstances in the world will prevent me from breastfeeding a future child, so as to avoid having to depend on WIC for formula. I cry a few tears, just to let them out, then I go home to my husband.

I explain to him what's wrong and forbid him from ever shopping at Store B again - for anything - ever! He hugs me and says he's sorry that I had to go through that. And I'm sorry too. I'm sorry all over again for not being able to keep breastfeeding baby E. And I'm sorry for all the mothers and fathers out there who get judged by grocery store checkers and humiliated in front of others simply b/c they're using a system they need in order to provide for their children. A system for which they qualify and for which, very often, their own tax dollars are used to pay. When I walked out of that store, I hated Mary. Today, I forgive Mary, because she just doesn't know any better. I'm hoping my call to Mr. Store Manager will help rectify that situation.


mgm said...

Ooh, this made me teary, AcadeMama. I hope that the manager is sympathetic and that s/he gives you the respect you deserve.

Raising children is hard enough without having to go in public and have people judge you whether it's for the way your children behave, the way they're dressed, or for making use of a system that should give parents the support they need.

Forgiving Mary is way more generous than I think I could be.

wwwmama said...

Argghhh! I just lost my long comment. I hate security screens.

Anyway, in a nutshell, I think it's GREAT that you're going to call and let them know how this made you feel. Mary needs to learn to look beyond herself and get some perspective.

I always feel spotlighted when I do the WIC thing, even when everyone's nice about it. I want my husband to do it more so he knows what it feels like. And I never wear my ring either. I just don't like wearing jewelry. I try not to think about what other people are thinking about me--think of it as standing up as allies for single moms.

wwwmama said...

Oh! About the mom thing. I tell my mom everything too! Occasionally I think that she wants me to back off, but then I think...nah. (I know, it's very narcissistic.) But then I think about my daughter and think I'll always want to know about her life. And being independent doesn't have to exclude a closeness to your mother, does it? If it does, I'm in trouble.

c . . . said...

so, it feels silly to comment on the brief early random tidbit since the last one was so compelling, but here it is anyway ...

re: "princess guides" ... when you think it's just too bad to believe, remind yourself that it was "Indian Princesses" not too many years ago ... and then think something like, "and they thought 'princess guides' solved the problem?!!?!"

Lilian said...

oh, dear, this was awful!! I had never thought that using WIC would make everyone stereotype you like that. I didn't use it because we didn't qualify, but a close fried of mine and my sister-in-law did.