I hated it last time I did it.  And it didn’t get any better the second time around.  Could I set up Facebook to alert me, since I can’t seem to remember it on my own?

What miserable thing did I do again?

Well, it all started innocently enough (doesn’t it always?)…

Hubby got paid on Wednesday, and I planned, as usual these days, to head into town for groceries and errands in the evening, when it’s quiet and mellow and I can park close to the door.  However, he got home later than usual, and Baby had spent three nights wailing for a 2-hour block, and I was really tired.  I decided to delay the whole thing for a day, and set out Thursday night instead.

Big Mistake.  Thursday was April first.  The first day of the month.  And, let me tell you, the sheer quantity of shoppers the night of the first is enough to keep me away.  It’s akin to the Saturday Shopping, which I avoid with all my might.  Now, brace yourself, because I’m about to reveal my Evil, Conservative Hatemonger side…  The quality of people packing the stores is notable as well.  Please don’t misunderstand; I’m not trying to say they’re of less value in the sight of God, or in an eternal sense, or even necessarily in ability or opportunity.    What kind of quality am I talking about, then?  I wish I could say.  I guess it’s the quality of hopelessness, or of laziness, or at the very least, a resignation (sometimes satisfied) to let someone else carry their weight.  Maybe because they know no better, or think life somehow owes them for perceived injustice.  Put a group like that together, and it’s noticeable.  And, I’m not even saying that all of them were of this notable quality.  But a lot of these were shopping last night.

Mixed in to all this is the knowledge that there but for the grace of God go I.  I can imagine, if things got really bad for us, that we might seek out food stamps (or ‘benefits cards’ as they are nowadays).  But I dearly hope it would be a last resort, after I’d quit smoking and sold my name-brand purse and shoes [in case you’re new here, I don’t smoke or have name-brand purses or shoes].  And THEN, I’d buy dry beans from the bulk food section, butter and cottage cheese on sale.  Oh wait.  I DID buy dry beans from the bulk food section, and butter and cottage cheese on sale!  Yeah, that was my cart.  As opposed to the two trendy gals in front of me who had a couple-dozen jars of baby food, an equal number of giant Arizona Tea cans, and untold goodies like frozen Drumstick ice cream things, Nutrigrain bars, canned- and boxed-everything.  I was saddened by the way they were teaching a young baby to eat (not the baby food, but the example they set), and indignant that I was financing it.  And then shame entered in, realizing that while I might not be asking my neighbors to feed my family, I was still doing it to an extent, considering our effective tax rate is less than zero, after this year’s tax refund.  Forced insurance, but of course.  We’ve been doing forced Welfare in this country for some time now.  And then more indignation, on behalf of my husband’s boss, and the owner of the small company that built his business from scratch, then bought and merged another business into it.  What did he do to deserve punishment?  Punish him too much, and we and others like us will suffer.  Bless him, and we are blessed.

Alllll the time I spend waiting in line and watching this sad circus gets me thinking and refining my policies.  Which, of course, I can do very little about, but it makes me feel better.  I wrote before how I think there should be some limitations to what food stamps cover, and of course I’m all for drug-testing any (every?) one on the taxpayer’s dole.  I’m also not terribly familiar with the qualification standards; I assume there is an income limit, perhaps limits on assets.  How about set some lifestyle limits?  Sure, we’ll buy you some groceries.  Do you have cable tv?  Satellite?  Okay, that reduces your monthly “benefit” by $40 (or whatever).  How about high-speed internet?  A Netflix subscription?  How about subscriptions to hobby/interest magazines?  Do you have a cell phone AND a land line?  How much do you pay per month for unlimited texting?  Do you own any ATVs, snowmobiles, motorcycles, boats, campers?

These are the things I’d ask myself and do away with BEFORE asking my neighbor for her money.  Otherwise I’m basically asking her to finance these luxuries.  And how wrong is that?

Too, take away these things from a family, and they might find some time to read (imagine that).  Or, better yet, find a creative way to make some money to carry them up.  Their minds might be opened to the bigger picture, that asking, expecting, the community to feed them (or provide transportation, replace their windows with something more energy-efficient, watch their children, etc) is a weakness of character.  And more importantly, that such a weakness can be strengthened, in many cases!  They may run across something that suggests there is more to life than taking what you can before you die.  And wouldn’t that change the world?

I know it’d change my poorly-scheduled evening grocery shopping.