There’s a tax on coupons.
You probably don’t know this unless you shop with food stamps, as I do. No tax when you use food stamps, but you do have to pay the tax on any coupons you use. The first time this happened to me was a bit of a shock but I fortunately had a few coins in my wallet.
Now when I grocery shop I try to remember to have at least a one dollar bill or several silver coins. Tonight before checking out I consulted my wallet to see I had about 55 cents; plenty enough to cover the small stack of coupons I planned to use. After I swiped my SNAP card, my cash total was fourteen cents. I handed the cashier two dimes as I only had 2 coppers in my wallet. She said, “I have four cents,” and handed me back a dime.
She seemed annoyed. Now what if my total had been $20.14 and I have given her $20.20? Would she have put in her four cents? No, that’s never happened to me before. But this is the second time a Publix cashier has felt the need to “contribute” to my coupon tax bill. And neither one has been overly gracious about it.
I’ve been using coupons off and on for 5 years and it’s still awkward. I started using coupons 2 years ago to try to bring more food into the house because the pantry would be rather bare by the end of each month. Three children live here and memories of being sort of hungry for half my childhood (we always had SOMETHING to eat but sometimes it really was just bread and potatoes) compel me to do my best to ALWAYS have something the kids will eat.
I don’t enjoy using food stamps. I try to be as normal about it as I can, but I can only imagine what the cashiers are thinking, because I know what I would be thinking. “Hmm, why doesn’t she have a job? Why is she buying expensive chocolate and all those sodas. She came in here last night and bought wine. Wasn’t using food stamps for that!”
I walked out to the car with my head down in shame. To my Dad’s 2014 Honda Accord, to be exact. That’s a whole ‘nuther essay in awkwardness. My car is 2003 Ford Taurus needed so much repair work that I can not drive it down the street.
I’m half-heartedly looking for a job. A friend sent me an article about a call center coming to the area. The only problem is, my last job, which was retail, resulted in me leaving in tears because I couldn’t take being yelled at. Working at a call center making working for RGIS (the inventory people that I always felt sorry for when they came to my place of employ) look appealing. My hard-earned ability to “grin and bear it” disappeared on me somewhere in the past 10 years and I can’t seem to get it back.
And I’m mortified. I want to start crying and not stop because I didn’t have an even fourteen cents. I’m glad I purchased 4 gallons of milk so I don’t have to go back tomorrow.