A SNAP Card, a Coach Purse, and Being Thankful by Ren Martinez

I recently got into a debate with someone on Facebook, which is a terrible idea in itself and should never be attempted. I generally try to keep my nose clean and out of other people’s business, particularly in the mire that is social media, but when I noticed his status I found myself unable to keep out of it.

His status was a simple story regarding his visit to a grocery store. The woman in front of him had paid for her purchases (he didn’t specify what they were) with a SNAP card she procured from a Coach purse. This action had him ranting against welfare abuse and how that woman was taking advantage of his tax payer money and he’s being oppressed by people like her.

Unable to keep my fingers from typing, I added a short comment. “You don’t know this woman’s story. I would refrain from judgment until you do.”

This incited a barrage of others into the fray, rallying against this woman and her nefarious plans to bankrupt the government at a Safeway kiosk. It was amazing to see how many people scorned her, played her for a villain, dismissed my comment with sarcasm and a quote from a political commentator.

Once again, unable to keep quiet, I pointed out, “You shouldn’t judge someone based on your idea of what poverty looks like.”

While the resulting storm of comments was a sight to behold, this online mob kept glossing over one thing. Never once did I try to defend welfare abuse, or deny its existence, or try defend those who do. I’m not usually a political person, and my understanding of the ins and outs of a government service such as welfare is limited. I don’t have the answers and don’t pretend to.

All I was simply saying was don’t judge someone whose circumstances you couldn’t possibly know.

Thanksgiving is just a day away and I am eternally thankful for my circumstances. I have an apartment and a job and people I care about and who care about me. I have a car and a purse from Target and my favorite pair of boots from Aldo that took me a month to save up for. But, like anyone else, good fortune can turn on me and I could wake up to a morning where I don’t have those things. I hope that day never happens, that I’m able to scrape by and protect myself, but I’m not invincible and neither is anyone else.

And, should that day happen, and I’m standing in the grocery line with my SNAP card in hand and my Aldo boots on my feet, I hope that people will think twice about casting judgment. Because we’re all just riding on luck until that luck runs out. I’m thankful that my luck is still holding and I can have silly debates with people on Facebook who don’t realize how lucky they really are.



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