My local grocery store is known as the Deco District H-E-B. Sounds glamorous, I know, but don’t let the moniker hoodwink you. The Deco District is a small area in Central San Antonio that feels incomplete, like an experiment in haphazard gentrification. The store itself is a mishmash of repulsive humanity, not unlike what you might see on a Saturday night at 2 A.M. in the emergency room. In fact, an ambulance has graced the premises numerous times…at a grocery store.
To endure shopping in a store like this, you have to be one of two types of people. You must be either utterly oblivious to your surroundings or have a really good therapist to work out your anger subsequent to shopping.
Since I’m neither oblivious nor able to afford a consumer therapist, I now shop at the next closest H-E-B, a much more pleasant and civil grocery store.
Perhaps one of the things that frustrated me the most about this store before I made the switch was customers using their Lone Star Card (LSC), which offers “access to SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) food benefits and TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) cash benefits”. While I believe in helping those who truly need it, the LSC was obviously one malfunctioning part of an overextended welfare system degraded by the lazy and corrupt. Its misuse became increasingly exasperating.
Therefore, following rule list is composed of somewhat facetious rules I’d like to see implemented by the Texas government. It details my frustrations with LSC users who abuse the system and is entirely based on my real-life experiences. It is not directed at those truly in need of government assistance.
Rule 1 – You must memorize which foods are eligible to purchase using a LSC. If you make a mistake in this regard your card will be confiscated. You will no longer delay other customers in line behind you. Instead, you have to use all the cash that is clearly visible in your wallet.
Rule 2 – You are not allowed to use a LSC to purchase items in order to sell them to the ice cream truck driver in my neighborhood, only so he can resell them at higher prices for a profit. This is especially true if the ice cream truck is already embellished with a fanciful paint job, an aftermarket stereo system, or custom rims.
Rule 3 – You cannot carry your card in an actual Burberry handbag or a faux Burberry handbag. If you are even aware of Burberry, you are in no position to qualify for LSC benefits.
Rule 4 – You cannot use your card if your nails (finger and/or toe) are immaculately trimmed, manicured, and painted, obviously the work of a nail salon. Additionally, if your nails (finger and/or toe) are painted a color offensive to others’ aesthetic sensibilities, such as a neon lime color, any remaining benefits will be deducted.
Rule 5 – You cannot use a LSC and then unload your groceries into a $30,000 vehicle, such as a Chevrolet Suburban with twenty-two inch chrome spinner rims, heavily tinted windows, dual exhaust, and aftermarket grill guard. Because the LSC views nutrition as more important than transportation, your “vehicle” must be a large rectangular one with the word “Via” painted on the side of it, a bicycle, or you must use your own two feet to carry you and your groceries home.
Rule 6 – You cannot use a LSC while wearing more than a single piece of gaudy jewelry, otherwise known as bling. Any more than that is just poor taste, but probably also an indicator of mishandling money.
Rule 7 – Your children, of which there are undoubtedly too many, may not touch any of the other customers’ items, step on their feet, scream uncontrollably, or throw the impulse items across store floor. There must discipline, or there will be disavowal.
Rule 8 – You cannot use a LSC if your body is painted with a dizzying and inky array of colors and designs depicting the guard tower or spider web, which indicate pride in the fact that you’ve been previously incarcerated for illegal activities.
Rule 9 – You cannot use an iPhone or Android mobile phone while checking out. Actually, you cannot even own a smart phone. While enjoying LSC benefits, you are only allowed to use a colossal “Saved by the Bell Zach Morris” style phone, if you happen to find one available.
Rule 10 – You cannot use the LSC if you verbally abuse or contest the actions of the cashier, who on a daily basis exhibits work ethic, self-reliance, and patience, the very qualities with which you are completely unfamiliar.
Rule 11 – You cannot use your LSC if you cannot determine that you have more than ten items in the “ten items or fewer” line. There’s a reason this is rule eleven.