A shout-out to Al at Shop-Rite

Our work picnic is tomorrow and I needed to pick up fried chicken to contribute. On a cash economy until payday, and I counted out about $65 in the car so I knew what I could spend.

So I got fried chicken and grabbed my necessities for the week–cream for coffee, toothbrushes, Chobani key lime, peanut butter crackers en masse for snacks at office, – frozen mac and cheese–and everything came to about $50. Got in line, and while the person before me was being rung up, I got my money. All I found was $41.

As the cashier started to ring me up, I asked him to hold on and only ring up what had to be refrigerated because I must have left money in my car. He asked me if I wanted to go to my car, and I just started blathering: “I had cancer this year, I am freaking out at the moment and having a hot flash, had radiation and surgery, I am so sorry, I can’t go back out to the car because I am really sweaty…” Like a total hot flash nervous breakdown and I could feel myself turning red.

And the cashier, Al was his name, tells me he is a Christian and it’s all going to be all right, and he hates to see someone upset on his line, and I have clearly had a bad year. And he says he will only ring up the cold stuff, and it will all be okay. And the woman behind me says that she likes Al, that he is a good guy.

And as he is ringing just the cold stuff, I am digging in my purse yet again, as I had for the past 5 minutes, and I find another $40. And Al tells me things work out when you don’t get upset. And he wants me to have a better year and maybe we will all feel better after November, anyway, because of the elections.

So I bought my toothbrushes and peanut butter crackers and all I had planned to. And Al said he wanted me to feel better and he will keep me on his prayer list.

When I got to the car, I was still shaken because that incident reminded me of so many broke single mom incidents when I was trying to pay for stuff for my kids. I guess they are never far from my thoughts. And that is sad in a way,  but I sure am glad that there are people like Al out there in this world when you are having such a moment.

Thank you, Al at Shop-Rite.

God bless my elderly neighbor

I have a sweet neighbor downstairs: an 80-year old woman who speaks primarily Spanish and not much English. She’s got nice children who come to visit her and a cute, little chihuahua.

I know she is a great cook because when I come home from work, amazing smells are coming into my apartment from my stairway, which is near her kitchen.

My neighbor must be part of a government senior program because she receives frozen meals from SunMeadow, which provides food to senior programs. I know she gets these senior meals because she gives them to me. Every couple of weeks, I find a bag of 10 or so frozen SunMeadow meals by my front door, and I Googled SunMeadow to figure out why she had all this generic-looking frozen food to pass to me.

Years ago, we used to visit my ex-husband’s grandma. (We can’t now, as she has passed away and she wouldn’t want to see me if she were alive, anyway, BECAUSE I DIVORCED HER GRANDSON.) She, too, received free food from the government. She was always cutting large pieces of American cheese off the massive slab she’d get from the government and send it home with us. Imagine a slice of American cheese that tasted like it had a full teaspoon of salt in it. It really was disgusting cheese. No wonder she wanted to get rid of it.

I think the government was trying to give my ex-husband’s grandma high blood pressure. (If you met her, you might understand why.)

Anyway, salt content rules must have changed because SunMeadow meals taste saltless. Whether it’s the chili or applesauce or chicken, there is just no flavor. I find them inedible, so I cut up the entrees and give them to the dogs. They don’t mind flavorless breaded fish. I sometimes eat the vegetables. The dessert always goes in the trash.

I know my neighbor is doing this to be kind because she does not want these frozen meals and her kids know I was really sick for a good part of this year. So God bless her for this kindness to me. But now I have a freezer full of SunMeadow senior meals that I am never going to eat and that I microwave to give to the dogs.

I got a ticket on Wednesday morning

On Wednesday morning, I rolled a stop sign. Okay, I simply did not stop. In my defense, a turning lane turns into its own little turnoff street, and I was turning right onto another road, so I looked left, saw nobody was coming, and turned right when I’d only slowed down. And, also in my defense, there wasn’t always a stop sign there. They just put one there. So I wasn’t used to having to fully stop at this turn.

But a police officer pulled me over and gave me a ticket. I have to pay $85 for not stopping. Not real happy about it, but life goes on.

The police officer was nice-looking, around my age, and not wearing a wedding ring. He was also very pleasant. But I Googled him when I got into the office, and he is married…

So that was Wednesday. On Friday, I’d gotten letters from 5 or 6 lawyers for representation. Today, I got another 5 or 6 more. For rolling a stop sign.

So, when you get a ticket, does your name go into some instantaneous database that says you are a scofflaw and you need representation? And then lawyers write to you that very second?

I did not beat anyone up, steal from an elderly person, or rob a convenience store at gunpoint, folks. I rolled a stop sign. I am going to pay my ticket and move forward with my life. Please stop with the offers of legal representation.

If they keep bombarding me with this shit, I may miss the letter from Publisher’s Clearing House telling me I won $5000 a week for life. And missing that would piss me off way more than an $85 ticket for rolling a stop sign in Lawrenceville.