He might be seventeen, he might be twenty; he sports fashionable, shaggy black hair under a billed knit cap worn sideways. His skate shoes tap on the floor as he spins his wallet to a beat before replacing it in his Volcom jeans.
I’ve worked too many grocery jobs, though, not to suspect the way that this shopping expedition ends.
Five large Arizona sweetened “iced tea” cans, a package of bacon, three large freeze-dried spicy noodle soup bowls, a freezer box of popcorn chicken, a frozen pizza, a bottle of chocolate milk, and other nutritional delights go into three of the flimsy little excuses for bags that the Seven-E has.
$32.73 – probably about as much as I spend on food in a week. From those expensive jeans he produces his Quest card for the cashier. Yes, indeed, that’s food stamps, paid for and funded by taxpayers such as yours truly.
I get on my bicycle and head towards home. At the intersection of Division there, I see a woman in her thirties with two elementary-aged girls in tow. They look around, a bit confused, and flag me over. “Excuse me, do you know where there’s a little store round here?”
“Well, there’s a Safeway [supermarket – ed.] about seven blocks that way,” I reply, pointing down K street. “Or, there’s a Seven-Eleven just right there, behind that building.”
The woman looks to the little girls. “Let’s go to Seven-Eleven,” she says. “Oh, hey –“ she asks me, “do ya know if they accept food stamps?”