Cashing Out

I was looking for the shortest checkout line at the supermarket when she approached, a young woman in a t-shirt and jeans, alone. “Can you do me a favor?” She was quiet, but not shy. She made eye contact.

“What is it?” I’m on a schedule. I have kids to pick up at school and a pile of food to pay for, transport, and put away.

“I have my food stamp card, but I need cash to pay bills. Will you help me?’

Did she pick me because I wasn’t scary? I looked like her, thirty years from now. I have the same long hair, except it has silver streaks. I’m wearing faded jeans, sneakers, and a Marvel Comics t-shirt that reads, Betrayed across the chest. I didn’t have to think about it. She asked me to commit fraud.

The sad thing is that it’s harder than heck to qualify for food stamps in Texas. The paperwork is a nightmare. I’ve known people who were really needy. They gave up. Yet . . . this person was willing to risk cashing out.

“No.” I pushed my cart to Check-Out 9.

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