The Oregon Trail Nail Salon

You can tell so much about a person by their hands.

A man with short fingernails with black dirt underneath? He’s a mechanic, or a welder.
Shiny nails, trimmed short, with clean cuticles? Executive, salesperson, lawyer.
Tan hands with scruffy nails? Landscaper, rancher, contractor.
A woman with short fake nails? Secretarial work, stay-at-home soccer mom.

Me? I have short nails, filed down and scrubbed with a nail-brush several times a day. Partly because of convenience, mostly because it’s mandated by the Oregon Health Department for all food service workers. (side note: you’ll notice that all of your favorite TV chefs have very short fingernails, usually filed to the extreme.)

Recently, I was in line at a local grocery store when I noticed the couple ahead of me. He was skinny, with dirty hands and a fingernail-biting habit. She was a heavy woman, with long fake fingernails painted a bright red, clutching a Kathy Van Zeeland handbag (which I was admiring). As she stood with her wallet open, he began unloading their cart, and I watched the conveyor belt become loaded with cases of Pepsi, BBQ Potato Chips, Mac n’ Cheese, Wonder Bread buns, frozen pizzas, Cool-Whip dairy topping and various flavors of Ranch dressing.

She handed over a $10 bill, then swiped a credit card through the machine. When it failed to process, she tried it again. BEEP! The grocery clerk called a manager over who looked at the error message, then asked the clerk, “Is it the Oregon Trail Card?”

Yes, the grocery clerk responded. He quickly showed the clerk the correct buttons to press to validate the purchase and walked away.

The Oregon Trail Card… aka Food Stamps… aka Welfare.

You know where I’m going with this, don’t you?

Acrylic nails are not cheap; about $50 a pop, and $20 every week or two to “fill” the growth between getting new fake nails. That designer bag I was coveting? About a hundred bucks. The grocery cart full of junk food that was paid for with free money? About $150 bucks.

What the #@*% ????!???

My mind raced while I paid for the green onions and sour cream that we had ran out of at the restaurant… and when I walked outside, I saw this couple loading up their food snacks.

How can she justify spending that kind of money on vanity, and yet fill out whatever forms are needed to ask for help paying to feed her family? And then… AND THEN buy crap for food? Soda – Chips – processed junk food and (of course) the stuff to dip it in.

I went back to the restaurant and ranted to the kitchen crew.

And then I Googled it. I’m such a fan of “the Google”.

Guess what? I qualify for FREE money from the government!!!! Here’s a screen-shot of my approval:

I answered all of the questions honestly, including that we own a business and own (or have a mortgage) on our home. We qualify for over $250 a month in FREE MONEY! I could buy all of our expensive lemons, tomatoes, and rice flour from the grocery store with this magical “credit” card and re-sell these items at the restaurant for a much higher price. How nice of all y’all (taxpayers) to help us out with our profit margins!

Oh, and if you don’t speak English? It must be pretty tough to find a job, right? No worries, mate, you can fill out your Free Money application in a variety of different languages:

This, my friends, is straight up effed. Can I go to Mexico, or Russia, or Vietnam and find an application for Free Money in my own native language? Nope. Learn the language, get the job, make the money. Those countries know better.

Want to see if YOU qualify for Free Money via welfare? Go here, and be amazed.

Fine Print: We pay ourselves just enough to cover our mortgage and utilities, with just a few bucks left over for dog food, toilet paper, and other necessities. Any profit (if we ever see one) goes back into the business.

Also, before anyone flames me, I am firmly behind helping my neighbors who are down-trodden and needing real help. Charity begins at home.

I should also mention that I did not have a spoiled or privileged upbringing. When I was an infant, my mom strung puka shells into necklaces and created paintings of the ocean to sell to tourists. When I was a toddler, she strapped me to her back and sold hideous terry-cloth dresses and perfumes to vendors near the beach for re-sale. When I became a teenager, she worked 12 to 14-hour days selling furniture and learning interior design. My mom never, ever accepted a government handout, and I never knew that we had it tough until I was grown-up enough to know better.

Oh… and my mom? She had short fingernails.

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4 Responses to The Oregon Trail Nail Salon

  1. Duncan McGeary says:

    My wife tells this story.

    Her first husband walked out on her. She hadn’t worked for years, had the two boys, and moved back to a trailer in LaPine.

    She dressed up in her nicest pre-divorce clothes to go on a job interview, and stood in line at the grocery store with her food stamps.

    And got a very nasty comment from the guy behind her how she was abusing the system.

    You’re probably right about this couple, but…you know, probably shouldn’t judge.

  2. keeneye says:

    Yes, and another scenario is that maybe she was only helping to purchase these snacks for someone else who is the actual beneficiary of this card.

    If not, my awe is directed towards being able to friviously spend cash on fake nails and designer handbags, yet abuse a very needed government program to help those in need of WELL fare. Additionally, are soda pop and potato chips intended to contribute to the well being of someone who is truly in need of food?

    Rice. Beans. Fruit. Vegetables. Meats. Nutritional supplements. Baby formula. Pepsi.

    Which of these don’t belong?

    If a person needs food, thank God there is a program in place to help (unlike many other countries). Abusing this program, and how easy it is to do so, really upsets me.

    Not judging the person, just the system. But if the person is abusing the system, then yes, I guess I’m judging the person.

  3. Duncan McGeary says:

    It’s a conundrum. The very behavior that probably makes them poor in the first place (lack of self-control, lack of judgment, inability to plan, etc. etc.) make them less than deserving of help.

  4. KWilliamson says:

    I hear they are planning on removing soda from the list of acceptable foods to be bought with the food stamps, not sure this is true, but after seeing my sister use her stamps for 15 cases of pepsi… it makes one wonder what the purpose of this is. How are these junk foods and other fanciful items healthy, nutritional, or appropriate? My husband and I fell on hard times, he was out of work for 3 years because of the economy, finally he is working a little but we still lost 2 of our 3 houses and the other one has been in and out of foreclosure for 3 years.. We get food stamps to help us, and mostly we buy meat, dairy, vegetables, and fruit. Every once in a while we get something frivolous, but for the most part if I want something sweet I bake it with natural ingredients and fruits. If only other people could accept that processed foods are not healthy for us, and act accordingly, this world would be a healthier place.

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