About 10 years ago I had moved my family into our first rented house, from the condo we’d lived in for years. It was two days before Thanksgiving. The landlord had taped a card to the front door, welcoming us to the new home. Inside the card was a $50 gift card to Shaws, the local supermarket.
Since I had spent every dime I had on relocation costs, and wasn’t getting paid until the end of the following week, the $50 was going to be incredibly helpful towards stocking the fridge and having a decent Thanksgiving meal.
So, having spent most of the day unloading a rented moving truck full of our stuff, I took my daughter (4 years old at the time) to the store to use the gift card. I was cold, filthy and miserable from loading and unloading stuff all day, I just wanted to get in, get my stuff and go.
So, not having an extra dime to my name aside from the gift card, daughter and I shopped just under $50 worth of items (which, in 2002 got you a LOT more than today). Busy, busy grocery store, since it was two days before Thanksgiving. Load it all up on the belt, cashier scans everything, probably 8 people behind us in line, all registers full. Cashier goes to swipe the gift card - denied.
Tries again - denied.
Tries again - denied.
Looks at me suspiciously (disheveled and looking like a hobo from working all day) and calls manager over. They call the hotline, run the numbers manually, all sorts of tricks - nothing. Says to me - “this card wasn’t even registered when it was purchased” - insinuating I’d stolen it and was trying to get free stuff. I try to call landlord to find out where/when she bought it, so maybe they can contact that store and verify the purchase - nothing.
“Sir, when gift cards are purchased at our stores, they’re activated before the transaction is complete - this card was never activated. Where did you say you got it from again?” and on and on. I’m tired, grubby, now getting that hot feeling in the back of my neck, everyone looking at me within 4 lanes on each side - all wanting to see the “thief”.
I finally said, “I’m sorry, just forget it” and started leaving. My daughter starts crying - “DADDY, WE CAN’T GO WITHOUT OUR GROCERIES!! WE WON’T HAVE ANYTHING TO EAT! DADDY DADDY!!”, etc...
Heard someone in line mutter - “jeeze - even gets his kid in on the scam...what a loser”.
Most humiliating moment of my life.
What a story! I’m so sorry that happened to you. But, don’t you find that having things like this happen to us makes us a little less quick to judge people when you see them in these kinds of situations? My fairly well-off friend does foster care and she gets all kinds of nasty looks and comments at the grocery store when she uses the food stamp cards (not sure if that’s exactly what she uses) that she gets for doing foster care. People look at how she’s dressed and just assume she’s taking government money even though she doesn’t need it.
You had me laughing... years ago for you thank God!
I would have gone back to the landlord and said, “This card did not work, do you still have the receipt for it? It would be a shame if the store cheated you”. Then gauge the sincerity of the landlord’s reaction.