Thursday, December 17, 2009

A Question for You

In my life I have known both rags and riches. I am thankful for both as they have made me who I am today.

In my early twenties and thirties finances were very tight and there were always too many days between paychecks.

I have known both single parenthood and dual parenthood - where I was the only one contributing to the welfare of both myself and child and later, with a competent, responsible partner.

In later and recent years, finances improved. Savings accounts became a reality. Modest, yearly vacations became doable. Extras, once only dreamed of, became within reach.

This leads me to today's post.

Yesterday I was in my favorite market doing my holiday shopping. Mind you, I was not shopping for tonight's dinner or staples for the kitchen cupboard. I was shopping for holiday extras. Cheeses, breads, ingredients for special hors' doerves. A little crab, even some caviar. Champagne.

When I finally arrived at the checkout counter and began to unload my delicacies I became aware of a middle aged woman and her son, about college age, waiting in line behind me. I couldn't help overhearing their conversation. The woman was crying (not loudly) and was saying to the young man, "I'm doing the best that I can, I'm sorry"... the young man with her was rubbing her shoulder and assuring her that "it was okay, mom.. it's going to be alright".. She was clearly trying to hide her anguish.. to no avail.

At one point, the woman walked away as the clerk continued to ring up my purchases. I couldn't help myself and asked the young man, "is that your mom?" He said, "yes". I then asked if they were having a hard time of things during this holiday season. He responded by shrugging his shoulders and said, "yeah, a little bit".

My heart broke. I looked down at their cart. Oatmeal. Pasta. Rice. Bread. Milk. Not a specialty item in sight. I looked at my purchases...

My question for you, my readers... What would you have done if you were me?


  1. Great question.. I have been on both sides of this as well..(times are a bit more stressful this year due to our small business challenges, but still feeling blessed).

    I think the good in most of us would want to slip their items in with ours... and ring them all up on our tab...

    Or possibly leave some cash with the cashier to cover their the "pay for the one behind me" act of kindness that is done elsewhere...

    We have payed secretly for a mother and sons meal at a restaurant, and know we were blessed as much as we hope they were.

  2. I can't say because I am only me, but I'd love to know what you did.

  3. How heartbreaking. I'd have wanted to leave money to pay for least. The only problem is that people often don't want what they see as charity; pride gets in the way.
    I am curious; what did you do?

  4. My mom/dad would have paid had it been them, and even with my slim means... I probably would have as well. I can't pass up an opportunity for random acts of kindness.

  5. I also want to add that I am often in times of rags and sometimes people randomly pay for things and I am always embarrassed a little, but also so thankful because them paying for that little thing means that I could afford that Tylenol for my son in addition to that gallon of milk... you know?

  6. All,

    I'm not going to tell you what I did. Suffice it to say I did not do enough and I am agonizing over it today.

  7. Although my husband and I are young, we are doing better than we've ever done. I know it's because we have each other... A lot of people don't have that support system. We are incredibly lucky.

    Honestly, I would have left money with the cashier. Or I would have give the boy the money. Paying for their items would have embarrassed them.. I'm assuming. I would have given them all I could spare.


  8. I would have paid for their groceries.

    We don't have a lot of money, but we "get by". And whenever we're a little better off than other times we always give back, any way, any how. You always have to give back. Karma.

  9. Those are the times that make me feel grateful for what I have. Times are tough sometimes but we always have food, bills get paid, things just get lean.

    I would like to think I would have bought a gift card and had the clerk give it to the people once I left. Wonder if I really would have?


Wow. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. I love feedback... what with being a cook and all. I will respond to your comments via email (if you do not have a "noreply" address or here, below your comment) As always, Bon Appetite!

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