The other day I was standing in line at the self-check out section at our local grocery store waiting for an open station. In front of me was a couple who had just scanned the items they had bought and were about to pay.
The lady, who looked so pregnant I was afraid that she’d go into labor right in front of me whipped out a peculiar looking card from her purse to pay for the items. Immediately, her man began to moonwalk away from her and look around to see who was watching. He looked somewhat apologetic and embarrassed and I knew why.
3 years ago when I had a job, the idea of people getting on government assistance repulsed me. I strongly believed that people who had two hands, two feet, and clean underwear had no business getting government assistance. Then I woke up one morning with a pregnant wife, no job, in deportation proceedings and wearing somewhat clean underwear. I had no choice but to get on government assistance because it was the only legal way I knew to survive the storm we were in.
For 15 years my wife and I religiously gave a portion of our paychecks to the bottomless pit of taxes and Social Security. Back then, we knew full well that as undocumented immigrants we’d never benefit from any of it. Now that we have a citizen child, we are eligible to use Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) as well as Women Infants and Children (WIC) for our daughter, Pookie.
Using WIC is humbling, but you won’t find me getting all sheepish about whipping out my WIC card at a grocery store. Nor do I care that there are people who think of me as a parasitic déclassé for doing so. They do not know my story.
I paid taxes for 15 years, and I think that, in itself, gives me the license to get food for my precious wife and child. So the next time you see someone unapologetically and enthusiastically swiping his WIC card, that’s probably me getting food for the two loves of my life.