I was thinking I really didn't have any new things to write this week, as it has been a very good week for Kalisha: she went to a ballgame with a friend, she has been faithfully doing her volunteering: her world is pretty much in order.
I knew there would be something to post about and it occured today at the grocery store. To set the stage for this, I will tell you Kalisha receives $40 per month in food stamps. She likes to push her own cart, select her own food, and checkout by herself. It makes her feel independent. Before we leave home, she makes a list of what she wants and usually runs it by me for my opinion. She does pretty well with the list; choosing fruit, yogurt, cereal...you can't buy too much with $40.
I used to insist on checking her choices before she checked out, but she r-e-a-l-l-y wants to do it by herself. Really by herself. She gets out of the car before me and practically runs into the store. Obviously, she thinks I am not going to 'catch' her and she's right.
I'm not certain why she makes a list, because once she is in the store, she becomes almost 'manic.' She rushes up and down the aisles, grabbing the things that call her name. I always think people probably believe she has some sort of deadline. She does. It is to get everything she wants and get it paid for before I might want to check the contents of her cart.
Okay, now we are up to today. She was nowhere in sight when I came in. The first person I encountered was a man asking people if they wanted to sign up for a drawing and if they wanted to receive the Fort Wayne newspaper. I recently stopped my subscription to the morning paper for financial reasons, so I passed him by.
I got the things I wanted and found an open lane. I was behind a young man who had what looked like a few items for his lunch. He had the look of someone who had been patiently waiting for a bit. I glanced over his shoulder and saw Kalisha was the customer in front of him. (I knew he wasn't going to get out of there in time to eat his lunch.)
Her groceries were all bagged up and in her cart, but there seemed to be a problem. I watched for a bit and then squeezed around the young man, "Excuse me..excuse me."
"Kalisha, what's the problem?" I asked.
The cashier is looking at me like 'who are you and what are you doing in this conversation?'
Kalisha was digging around in her purse and billfold. "I can't find my debit card. I just had it when I gave it to the newspaper man."
Before I could say, "Oh, crap," the nice cashier, trying to reassure Kalisha, said, "It's okay."
So Kalisha, thinking 'it's really okay' takes off with her cart of groceries. I looked at the cashier, who is looking at me and then at her little computer screen which still has a balance of $60.77 showing and we are both thinking what the heck.
I called to Kalisha, who was on her way out the door. "Hey, you still owe for those groceries."
"No, I don't. She said it was okay."
I asked, "Does she still owe that balance?" She nodded yes, so I squeezed back past the man in line, who by now knew he was never going to eat his lunch, and got my card. Then I squeezed past him again and paid the balance. As I went past him one more time to return to my cart, I smiled and said, "I hope you have a long lunch break."
He graciously said, "It's okay. Don't worry about it." That's probably the most entertainment he's had on his lunch hour in a long time.
I checked out and went to the car, where Kalisha was waiting. I asked if she had found her debit card. She had, in her pocket. Right where she put it after signing up for the paper. Okay, let's review: She bought $100.00 worth of food, MUCH of it was sweets. Then she tells me she really bought $110.00 but she used the $10 gift card the nice newspaper man gave her when she ordered the paper. Now I have to cancel the paper and probably send the $10 back for the gift card. I tell her she was walking out with groceries she had not paid for. If I wasn't there, she could have been arrested. (That's where her reference to 'going to jail' came from.
As I'm stuffing bags of groceries in the car, I am, of course, yelling at her. "You knew you only had $40 on your food stamp card. How did you end up with $110?" "And, you bought all sweet stuff."
"No, I didn't," she said. "I bought bananas and grapes and lettuce and yogurt, too." She unloaded her bags and put everything in the garage refrigerator.
In my grocery shopping, I bought one can of beer. I intended to use it in my garden to kill slugs. By the time I got home, I thought, 'to hell with the slugs' and I opened it and drank it...warm, even.
We discussed the whole thing and as always, she made me know how sweet she really is. She said, "I'm sorry, Mom, about everything. But I wanted to surprise you with the newspaper because I know you miss it in the morning."