I saw this in The Stir - Have you ever had to pay with change?
A mother, who's too embarrassed to release a photo of herself or her name, was denied at a grocery store when shetried to pay for her hungry family's food in loose change. The woman who's using the name "Jean" to get her story out said, "We had nothing to feed our children with. So we broke out the change."
Jean says that she brought $32 in quarters to the Save-a-Lot in Portland, and grabbed what she could afford from the store. When she got to the register, she told the clerk, "I have change. Sorry, it’s hard times right now." And he pretty much said, "Oh, hell no."
Actually, according to Jean, what he really said was, "Well, we can only accept $5." To which Jean responded, "It's money. Money's money." But he wouldn't budge. Jean was "mortified," so she went to another grocery store, where, at first, she was met with similar results.
The manager of the second store refused to accept her change as well, and instructed to her use to the change machine, which charges a 10 percent fee. Jean couldn't afford to lose the money, so she broke down and started crying in front of another customer. The stranger was moved by Jean's tears-- and disgusted with the store's policy -- so he told her he'd buy her change from her at no fee. After hearing that, the store agreed to just pay for the fee if she used the change machine.
Now, we've all been in a similar situation before -- embarrassingly counting nickels and dimes to pay for something while holding up a growing line behind us. And it sucks. And it is mortifying. But imagine if this was the only way you could afford to pay for your hungry children's food? And you were denied? How cruel.
I get that stores have policies, and clerks are always incredibly weird about breaking change, but come on. When faced with a situation like this, is it really not possible to bend the rules? Jean's right:Money's money. It's not like they're going to be short at the end of the night. If a desperate mother is just trying to feed her family, I think it's okay to go against store protocol.
I'm glad that Jean eventually was able to pay for her groceries with change -- without losing 10 percent of it. And I'm also glad that it's because a kind stranger inspired the store manager to let her do so. It's corny, but it's actually kind of true: Kindness can be contagious.
Do you think it was right to refuse this mom's money?