To the Woman Behind Me in Line at the Grocery Store

Dear woman behind me in line at the grocery store,

You don’t know me. You have no clue what my life has been like since October 1, 2013. You have no clue that my family has gone through the wringer. You have no clue that we have faced unbelievable hardship. You have no clue we have been humiliated, humbled, destitute.
You have no clue I have cried more days than not; that I fight against bitterness taking control of my heart. You have no clue that my husband’s pride was shattered. You have no clue my kids have had the worries of an adult on their shoulders. You have no clue their innocence was snatched from them for no good reason. You know none of this.

What you do know is I tried to buy my kids some food and that the EBT machine was down so I couldn’t buy that food. I didn’t have any cash or my debit card with me. I only had my SNAP card. All you heard was me saying “No, don’t hold it for me. My kids are hungry now and I have no other way of paying for this.” You didn’t judge me. You didn’t snarl “Maybe you should have less kids.” You didn’t say “Well, get a job and learn to support yourself.” You didn’t look away in embarrassment or shame for me. You didn’t make any assumptions at all.

What you did was you paid that $17.38 grocery bill for us. You gave my kids bananas, yogurt, apple juice, cheese sticks, and a peach ice tea for me; a rare treat and splurge. You let me hug you and promise through my tears that I WILL pay this forward. I WILL pay someone’s grocery bill for them. That $17.38 may not have been a lot for you, but it was priceless to us. In the car my kids couldn’t stop gushing about you; our “angel in disguise.” They prayed for you. They prayed you would be blessed. You restored some of our lost faith. One simple and small action changed our lives. You probably have forgotten about us by now, but we haven’t forgotten about you. You will forever be a part of us even though we don’t even know your name.

You have no clue how grateful and embarrassed I am that we pay for all our food with SNAP. We eat well thanks to the government. I love that. I love that the government makes sure my kids are cared for. It is one less worry for us. I also struggle with pride and embarrassment. I defiantly tell people we are on SNAP. Daring them to judge us.

Only those closest to us know why we are on SNAP. They know my husband is a hard worker who was laid off after 17 years in a management position with his former company. They know we were moved from our home to a new state only to be left homeless since the house we had came with the job he lost. Only those closest to us know my husband works part time while looking tirelessly for more; that he has submitted more applications than he has received interviews for. Too many jobs are only offering part time work anymore. It is not easy for a 40-something year old to find a job that will support his family of 5 kids.

You know none of this but you didn’t let that stop you from being compassionate and generous to someone you have never met.

To the woman behind me at the grocery store, you have no idea how much we appreciate you. You have no idea the impact you had on my kids. You have no idea how incredibly thankful I am for you. Your action may have been small, but to us it was monumental. Thank you.

Thank you for not judging us. Thank you for giving my kids a snack when they were quite hungry. Thank you. Just thank you.

Forever,
Andrea, the woman in front of you at the grocery store with the cart full of kids who are no longer hungry
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**UPDATE** Mark got a full time job in the state we call home. He is there now and we will join him once he finds us a home. Thank you all for your prayers and kind words.

 

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1,069 thoughts on “To the Woman Behind Me in Line at the Grocery Store

  1. That was a great story and I hope everyone who reads it will try to help others who may be struggling. I would also advise that everyone concerned about preserving SNAP benefits vote in every election and be aware that some Republicans believe that if you are poor its your own fault and you should watch you children go hungry as punishment. I am not making this up, Paul Ryan actually said this as a reason to eliminate school lunches. Educate yourself and vote

    • I do not want any child to go hungry and I am a Republican. I as a middle class mom have gone hungry just so my kids could eat when they were little. We never qualify for help because we are just above the requirement. I love this story too and I believe that SNAP should continue :)

  2. I am here to say that I know what others are going through. I am there right now. With my husband being totally disabled. I am working but I also have to have someone with him. I applied for snap but was over the income cause of an 8.00 an hour job. We struggle but make it. I pray that something better comes along but I always make sure that my husband has what he needs then work on the bills. But the state will only help if he goes into a home .

  3. Thank you for sharing your story with us. My family was facing the same situation. Currently I’m working a Temp. job but next month I will be eligible for hire in. I pray they hire me in, I don’t want to go back.

    Prayers for your family, tell the hubby I said stay strong and don’t fear, God has a great plan for him.

  4. My dear Andrea….you have paid it forward. Blessings to your “angel”! Your heartfelt words are making the rounds. Just today I asked 300-some people on Facebook to do a small kindness this week….in honor of your angel and your family. The world needs this. If only a few of them do so, you will have paid it forward. Very happy that your husband found work and things will get back on track for your family. As a single mom, I have had my struggles financially, but I haven’t had to bear the awful pain of having hungry children. XOXOXO to you and your family! I like to do kind things for people….even though I can’t do much. The next one I do is because of you!

  5. Someday in reflect you will look back and think to yourself “The years of struggle were the most beautiful” Blessings to you and your family….

  6. Andrea –
    I read this today and as someone who has used WIC in the past I have felt some of what you are going through. I was always so embarrassed to use it. My heart just feels for you and your family. I will be praying for you and wanted to know if there is another area you are in need. Will you please email me and let me know? I want to help if possible.
    Emily from Oregon

    • Emily, right now we are good. Once I have Internet access I will update. Our needs are minor right now, but thank you! If you ever need to reach me my email is truestoriesofamidwestyankee @ gmail

  7. This is a great story about the humanity and humility of people it makes me happy to know that both still exist. I’m a stay at home Mom with 2 kids and once my husband lost his job and we needed assistance too.

    I don’t mean to make light of your situation but I was wondering is I was the only one who walked into the grocery store with my card in had and said, Aw SNAP I’m here again?

  8. Thank you for posting this. Your words moved me to tears. My dad is 52 and lost his job as an engineer after 20 years. He works 2 part time jobs to pay the bills, even though he has two masters degrees. We hardly ever see him. I have 8 brothers and sisters. 9 kids is a lot to take care of on minimum wage. After 7 months my parents are getting the hang of this being poor thing. It has been awful, yet humbling. It’s good to know we aren’t the only ones. We are still holding onto our hope. Still praying my dad gets that call that will offer him a job that pays more than $9 an hour. Thank you for sharing your story, it sure made a difference to my family. It encouraged us to keep hoping, keep praying, and keep believing that God will provide! It also served as a powerful reminder to pay it forward. Thank you!

  9. A friend shared this on FB and I just happened on your story!! I hope that you have moved by now and that you are doing well!!! I have my own business that can be done from anywhere, and would love to share the opportunity with you! It’s not a scam, you won’t be putting hundreds of dollars into it and see nothing. I have been able to bless my kids and family with a few things in just the few months I have been working!! The upside is that my kids have enjoyed helping me and don’t mind when I have to do a little “work” because they know mom is doing it for them!!! You have email if you want to contact me!!! I hope you have a blessed day!!!

  10. Pingback: “To the woman in line behind me…” | Arizona Fair Share

  11. Reblogged this on My Enterprising Life. and commented:
    BE CAREFUL OF YOUR ASSUMPTIONS: I have heard on more than one occasion what society thinks about families on welfare. And, all to often I speak up to tell them the story of my mother, how she came to be a single parent, her working to put her self through undergrad and graduate school, and how the money went to feed us. We didn’t have a lavish lifestyle at all. What I do know is that we had what we needed through both welfare and the generosity of people who saw something in my Mom, did not judge, and asked for nothing in return. And for that I am thankful.

  12. I enjoyed the story. I have two things to ask.
    One: with the attention this story has gained has the media tried to locate your kind stranger? I’d be curious to know more about her. Maybe she would prefer to be private but I would like to know what prompted her to be so kind.
    Two: I’ve read over half your blog in one sitting. You are a great writer! Maybe you could look at ways of getting paid to do it? I think you could.

  13. Dear Midwest Yankee.. I happened to watch ABC World News Tonight and saw your story and blog mentioned. Earlier this year, I helped a young woman in front of me at the checkout at IGA who found herself short when trying to purchase some items. I do not know if it was you I helped that day but if it was, you are very welcome.

    I am happy to hear you and your family have landed on your feet in a new place and your husband has found work.

    • Annie, it is people like you who make the world a better place <3 Blessings to you and thank you for being a kind soul. Now that things are (slowly but steadily) picking up I have been doing small deeds to pay it forward. I have taken to driving to where the homeless hang out and handing out dollars. It isn't much and people think I am crazy, but I know it is the right thing to do right now :)

  14. Hi! I am in the same boat. My husband a jr/high school social studies teacher lost his job in 2010. I lost my job in the mortgage industry in 2008. I was pregnant with our 1st child. I was devastated. My hubby kept teaching. We were desperate. My mom flew us home for the summerso my hubby ccould work bc there were no jobs in AZ. We came to PA, my husband worked his hinie off all summer. Things were looking up. I got pregnant with my 2nd. I was thrilled. It wasn’t expected and since things were looking up for us we took it as a sign that things would continue to get better. My brother moved in so we all could have a little easier time financially. It was awesome! In April my husband was told the middle school he was working at was closing. We were in a panic. What was going to happen now?! It was so stressful. Our dear friends called us and said “we have a job for my hubby, but you have to come back to PA” So we packed it up, borrowed money from anyone who could lend it to us, and moved back home, and in with my parents. My hubby started work about 1 week after we got to PA. It was amazing. Not in teaching but in construction. We got our own place, my hubby was mm along a ton of money. So we decided it was time for that final addition to our family. We got pregnant with our 3rd! I was beyond excited. I thought this is it. This will be the baby who has everything and anything! I was so wrong. I had to be hospitalized bc of hyperemisis. On my 2nd day in the hospital my hubby showed up in the late afternoon. I couldn’t believe it, he got laid off! That was in 2011. We have been on MA and SNAP ever since bc he can not get a teaching job, he’s applied for 1000’s of jobs, had 100’s of interviews, he’s even driven 5 hours 1 way for an interview. He got a job at a bar. It wasn’t great but it was a check. I keep telling myself this isn’t it, it’s not forever. One day it will change for us and I’ll be able to help someone in way that I’ve been helped.

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