One can hear some mighty interesting and sometimes strange bits of information in a checkout line in a store, hospital waiting area or any other public place. All one has to do is be present and you’ll pick them up, even if you don’t try.
The other day in a checkout line, I overheard a soldier tell a cashier that he called Fort Stewart "Fort Stupid." He could not believe how tiny Hinesville was, not even having bus transportation around town. The cashier agreed, and said she had just gotten her driver’s license, but her parents would not let her drive out of the city. He laughed and told her that she would have to if she wanted to find anything.
Now, this was my town they were discussing and Fort Stewart certainly was not referred to as Fort Stupid just a few years ago during deployments to war. This particular soldier had not been here then.
Maybe he was transferred to a perfect place.
During my father’s hospitalization in 1991, my sister and I were taking turns sitting by his bedside during his illness. One morning at 3, I was sitting in the waiting room just a few doors down from Daddy’s room, when a crowd of noisy people came in. They had been called to the hospital as a family member, a young man, was in the hospital with AIDS and was dying.
They were a very cheerful bunch and very loud. One lady said the Lord would take care of the young man and bless him. Another piped in that there were three more in the same shape. She named them and said they should stop spreading the disease. Another said she was going to report them anonymously to the health department.
As one of the men staggered into the room, the religious lady asked where he bought that old liquor. He told her that he had bought it at the store and he drank it because he liked it. A long and hot lecture followed. Then the conversation turned to money for beer and wine and the sale of food stamps.
One man told them that he could buy $50 worth of food stamps for $25. All they had to do was let him know they wanted some ahead of time and bring him the money! He could get them any week.
The conversation went on just as if I was not in the room. As I was getting ready to leave, they went out the door headed to cheer up the dying man. The drunk man staggered down the hall behind them.
A few years back, I saw a 5-year-old give the cashier a dollar food stamp for a quarter chocolate Moon Pie. He got the correct change and immediately went to the bubble gum and hard candy machine to make his selections.
Couldn’t this food stamp money have been used to buy more nutritious food for the kids? There were several kids. Even ice cream would have been better.
This brought to my mind an incident that had happened many years earlier in Carl Dykes Grocery Store in Hinesville. I was in line with my grocery buggy filled with carefully selected sale items and our three little children behind me. The lady ahead put a nice looking watermelon on the counter. It was not watermelon season. My little ones started clamoring for me to buy them a watermelon. That thing cost $6.99! No way, could I afford such.
The lady paid for other things and her nice watermelon with food stamps. My husband was a policeman at the time and I did not work outside the home, so I had to make sure every grocery penny counted, but our kids did not understand. They still wanted a watermelon, which they did not get.