It had seemed to be like any other shopping trip, but he had never expected to leave the supermarket in such a fury. But it wasn’t the long queues at each checkout counter that had put him in such a rage, nor the tightly-packed shoppers rubbing shoulders in the produce aisle. It wasn’t the badly behaved children having public meltdowns as their mothers plodded along behind their carts with glassy eyes.
It was another family’s shopping cart, and when he looked inside at their enormous haul he felt himself totally losing it. He snapped a photo and instantly uploaded it to Facebook.
Doing All He Could
Patrick Gibson is a hard-working man, and supporting his small family is his number one priority. He thought that when he enlisted in the U.S. Army things would start to turn around. He would leave his family for months at a time to serve his country, but the time he spent away from his loved ones took its toll.
But Patrick knew that nothing worth having would come easily, and he always remembered what his father had taught him: nothing in life is given for free.
Patrick was lucky enough to meet the love of his life early on, and the couple wed shortly afterward. Before he knew it, Patrick was a father to two beautiful children — one boy, and one girl. But he was the sole provider for the family, and with only one breadwinner the couple soon fell on hard times.
But they managed to get by, making do with what little they had.
Putting Food on the Table
Patrick often skipped breakfast so that his family could eat. These days he often found himself going hungry. He earned $70 per month, and he tried to stretch it as far as he could. But $70 doesn’t go very far when there are children to feed, diapers to be bought, and car payments to be made. After all their expenses, the Gibsons were hardly making ends meet.
But that was okay, Patrick was glad that they had each other. He would make it work, somehow.
One month, Patrick was happy to see that his tight budget had paid off — he had a little left over from his paycheck. He decided to take a trip to the local Walmart to buy some groceries. while he was pacing up and down the aisles he calculated the totals carefully in his head before selecting the best buys and promotions.
Maybe he could afford to splash out a little today, he thought, eyeing the fat red grapes in the produce section. But Patrick’s celebratory mood was about to be obliterated.
Time to Leave
That day Walmart was full of shoppers, so Patrick tried to get his shopping done quickly. He was growing tired of the cacophony of wailing children and people rudely slamming his heels with their grocery carts. It was time to leave.
He pushed his cart with its precious cargo along to the checkout line and patiently waited to be served.
The checkout line shuffled forward slowly and Patrick had ample time to glance into the shopping carts ahead of him. He longingly took stock of the groceries that were piled high, spotting fresh ribeye steaks, bacon, shrimp, lobster, butter — every expensive luxury he could never afford was stacked to overflowing in these two carts. Then the family started to unload their bounty onto the counter, and he realized that both carts belonged to the same couple.
“Must be nice,” he said softly to himself. But when the man pulled out his wallet to pay, Patrick saw red.
The couple’s groceries were packed and totaled, and it wasn’t surprising when the number that flashed on the screen was a mind-numbing $800. When the man pulled out his wallet to pay and opened it up, Patrick was gobsmacked. He pushed a wad of $100 bills aside and reached for an EBT card.
An EBT card, or electronic benefits card, works as an electronic food stamp system issued by state welfare departments. Patrick had seen enough, so he whipped out his phone.
Although it was not wrong that the couple was using an EBT card, Patrick was angry that they could handle paying for groceries themselves.
That is when he decided to do the unthinkable.
In a Rage
It took all the self-control Patrick had to bite his tongue, but he did. Instead of unleashing a torrent of fury on the big spenders he snapped a photo. As soon as he did, he started to calm down. He couldn’t know what the couple’s situation was, after all. Maybe he had been too hasty to judge.
But what he saw the couple do next in the parking lot was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
The couple took some time to load the enormous amount of loot into the back of their car, so Patrick had already finished paying for his three bags of groceries when he passed them in the parking lot.
This was a big mistake because he looked at the wrong time…
He had already made peace with what he had just seen and had decided to shake it off, but that’s when he saw the car they were driving.
It was just too much. So he decided to make them famous.
Venting on Social Media
The couple on food stamps were loading their $800 grocery purchase into the trunk of a brand new Hyundai Genesis. According to Patrick, this particular car costs around $15,000 to $20,000 more than his family’s car.
How had they possibly managed to afford it while they were on welfare?
To Patrick, this extra detail was adding insult to injury.
His blood was boiling as he took to Facebook to express his outrage.
Patrick began his angry Facebook post with: “Sorry but I had to vent. The picture you see on the left is the amount of groceries including diapers that I was able to afford this pay period for my family (wife, son, daughter, myself) which was paid in cash since I actually work hard for a living. The picture on the right is of the purchase in front of me in line.”
But he didn’t end his rant there.
“If you can’t tell in the picture there are 2 full buggies of groceries including such items like steak and some other very nice choices of food. Here’s the kicker. This purchase was made in food stamps.”
Patrick continues, “which I wouldn’t have a problem with if I didn’t see the person move their big fold of cash out of the way to get to the EBT card and then load them into the back of a brand new Hyundai Genesis.”
“That is about 15k-20k more than my car.”
He continues, incredulous, “I just thought I would take the time to tell this person/family that you are very welcome from all of us hard working/ struggling to buy food Americans that have to foot the bill for your fancy steak feast while I skip breakfast and lunch every day so my wife and children have food to eat …because $50-$75 dollars doesn’t go very far.”
He ends his post with a snarky comment, “So you enjoy your $800 free grocery purchase.”
Needless to say, some Facebook users were as outraged as he was.
Voices of Dissent
Most comments were positive, with many people saying that they had witnessed similar things, but some Facebook users criticized Patrick for his post, saying that he shouldn’t judge a stranger on just what he’s seen. One person commented: “Do you really know their back story?” and added that maybe the new car had been a gift.
But Patrick’s retaliation provided an insight as to why he had felt like an injustice had occurred in Walmart that day.
“Well the odds of that being the case in this situation much like many other situations with food stamps are almost as likely as me being approved for some government assistance because we are struggling …oh wait I forgot. We already got denied,” Patrick retorted.
“So I’m pretty sure no one gave her a free car. I am sure that hard-working people such as myself are giving her a free life though.”
So, what is the real reason for Patrick’s outrage? It was that he and his family were denied assistance by the state when they needed it most. Patrick protects and serves all Americans, and yet he does not qualify to go on food stamps. It boggles the mind.
But do you think that Patrick was too quick to judge the couple buying luxury items with food stamps?
It’s not surprising that Patrick’s post has attracted a huge amount of attention. It has garnered over 100,000 shares and hundreds of comments on Facebook, with many arguments both for and against his opinion of the couple who didn’t look like they needed government assistance.
One particular post about Patrick’s experience raises an interesting point.
A Sensitive Topic
“My point is, a picture paints a thousand words and your version is highly biased. No one needs to thank you or anyone else for working for their grocery bill when the fact is that a majority of families participating in the program are working families struggling to make ends meet just as you are,” one man wrote.
The issue of who qualifies for financial assistance continues to be a sensitive topic.
Do What Is Right
Regardless, it’s never okay to take advantage of a welfare system that is set in place for struggling families.
Do you think Patrick’s anger was justified?