Today, after dropping HRH at school, Gremlin and I went on our appointed rounds, starting with Target. We were doing our usual; negotiating over staying in the cart, discussing not getting a toy whenever we go to Target, saying yes to a bag of M&Ms.
We got to a register with only one person ahead of us. I had to wait longer than you'd expect for the woman in front of me to pay for what looked like a single item, already in a bag. Then I noticed she was paying the $20.99 with a handful of bills, mostly ones, and 99 cents, mostly pennies. She used a Hello Kitty gift card for the remaining one dollar. She initially muffed the gift card transaction and had to reswipe the card. I thought for a minute whether offering up the dollar would insult her as I tried desperately to see what was in that Target bag.
I began forming a backstory for this woman. She was unemployed, out of prospects and out of money. She was literally counting every penny to buy one of life's simple necessities. The bag was too small for diapers (my worst case scenario) but it could have contained wipes, medication, or simple toiletries. She walked away with her purchase, her back straight and her head high. I slid forward and the cashier rolled her eyes at me and muttering "only happens to me..."
I was in the store for about 45 minutes and bought a new stroller, coloring books for the plane, ice melt, kitty litter, sale sweatshirts, Saran Wrap, and more of the general stuff of everyday life. I paid by debit card. I was distracted and forgot to look at the dollar amount as I punched in my PIN.
We're far from rich. I shop in Target because it's cost-effective. But we have enough.
I'm thinking of this woman, thinking of her needs and her dignity, persevering.
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