Let Inga Tell You: It’s tough letting no good deed go unpunished

Recently, I found myself in line at the supermarket behind a somewhat pudgy young woman holding an adorable Pug puppy. Her groceries are already bagged but it quickly becomes obvious that her debit card is being declined. Cash or credit card are not forthcoming in its place. She keeps taking things out of the bags – Ore-Ida frozen hash browns, Betty Crocker biscuit mix – and asking the clerk to try it again.  The clerk is apologetic. “I’m sorry,” she says, “it’s still ‘insufficient funds.’ ”

Let Inga Tell You. Look for La Jolla resident Inga's lighthearted looks at life every other week in The La Jolla Light.

The young woman looks increasingly stressed as the line behind her grows.  After four rounds of this, I know it won’t matter how much stuff she takes out of those bags or how often the checker re-tries it; this young woman doesn’t have any money.  I’m guessing there is probably dog food in there for the puppy. And maybe – given the hash browns and the biscuit mix – a not very nutritious, but at least marginally sustaining, dinner for her as well.

These are hard economic times.  The holidays are coming. Helping one another out is the least we can do.

Meanwhile the puppy - a born closer – turns and looks at me with its big doe-y brown eyes.

I whisper to the checker, “How much is it?”  She whispers back, “$11.73.”  I think, “How often do I have an opportunity to really help someone for $11.73?”  I tell the checker I’ll pay for it.  I slide my card and type in my pin while the young woman stands by.  I get a kind of terse, “um, thanks” as she grabs her two bags and departs with the dog.

I go out to my car with that warm fuzzy feeling that you get when you’ve made someone’s life just a little brighter, even if only for a day.  I imagine them eating their modest meal together that evening.  I know I will feel more grateful tonight for my own dinner thinking of her.

And then I glance down at the receipt for the Pug owner’s groceries that the clerk had handed to me along with my own:

HE miniatures: $3.99

Oreo mint cookies:  $1.99

Pop Tarts: $2.59

Snickers Bar:  $.50

Dove Milk Chocolate bar: $.50

Dr. Pepper: $1.89

CRV for the Dr. Pepper: $.10.

With tax:  $11.73.

I wasn’t sure what the HE miniatures were.  Hoping against hope that this could be something at least minimally nutritious for either human or canine — tiny crackers?  little kibbly bits? — I went back into the store and showed the receipt to the checker.

“Please tell me this item is real food,” I said.

“Sorry” she said, “that was a bag of Hershey’s miniature chocolate bars.”

OK, I confess I was a little disheartened.  Still, as I drove home, I tried to keep sight of the essential issue here:  I sure hope dogs like Oreos.

*** Reach Inga at inga47@san.rr.com.

Related posts:

  1. Let Inga Tell You: It’s all lies and I was framed!
  2. Let Inga Tell You: I’m mastering CSL — Coffee as a Second Language
  3. Let Inga Tell You: Yielding to the temptation to ignore traffic signs
  4. Let Inga Tell You: How to know the ‘real’ college applicant
  5. Let Inga Tell You: Couples must plumb the depths of romance

Short URL: http://www.lajollalight.com/?p=6571

Posted by Susan DeMaggio on Nov 18, 2010. Filed under Columns, Let Inga Tell You, Life. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

Leave a Reply

La Jolla Community Calendar


Bottom Buttons 1

Bottom Buttons 2

Bottom Buttons 3

Bottom Buttons 4

Bottom Buttons 5

Bottom Buttons 6

RSS North Coastal News

  • Solana Beach water district moving to mandatory water use restrictions August 22, 2014
    Customers of the Santa Fe Irrigation District — including residents of Rancho Santa Fe, Solana Beach and part of Fairbanks Ranch — will face mandatory restrictions on water use starting Sept. 5, in an effort to save water due to an ongoing statewide drought. The restrictions include a three-day-per-week watering schedule for all homes and businesses, a prohi […]
  • West Coast FC Classic Champs August 22, 2014
    Congratulations to Coach Beto Villela and the San Diego Surf BU11 Academy (Villela) team. The boys won the West Coast FC Classic Tournament last weekend, held in Mission Viejo. […]
  • Surf GU9 team takes first place in Orange County Kickoff classic August 22, 2014
    The Surf Soccer Club Academy GU9 team took first place in the 2014 Orange County Kickoff Classic (Girls U9 flight 1) on Aug. 16-17. […]