Photo: iStock

A woman at an Albertsons store in Gresham, Ore., attempted to help out a fellow shopper when she came up short at the register. But according to Jacki Carroll, a white woman, the cashier refused to let her help the African-American woman who was using WIC (federal food stamp benefits specifically earmarked for women, infants and children) to pay for her items, and said the cashier made some pretty racist comments in the process.

“[I] said, ‘I will pay,’ and she said, ‘No!’ very abruptly,” Carroll said in an interview with KATU-TV. “Literally, she raised her voice and said, ‘No, you don’t need to do that.’”

Carroll was only offering to pay the $12 the unidentified woman was short, but she said that the cashier, identified only as Debbie, went classist and racist at the same time.

“I go, ‘Well, I don’t mind; just let her have her stuff,’” Carroll said she told the white female cashier, who then responded, “‘No! You’re not going to do that. She has WIC. She gets her free stuff.’”

Eventually the woman left the grocery store with only the items she could afford, and when Carroll continued her conversation with the cashier, she wouldn’t let up on her stank racist attitude.

“‘That’s why they have babies, so they can keep on getting all of the free stuff,’” Carroll said the cashier told her.

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After Carroll left the store, she said, she contacted the manager and demanded that the store apologize to the woman with the WIC and said that the cashier should be disciplined. Once she arrived home, Carroll’s daughter, Amanda Arnlund, wrote about the incident on Facebook:

Today there was an African American woman at the check out stand. She was using her WIC to purchase the basic necessities (milk, eggs, fruits, etc). Meaning, she was either pregnant, or had children under the age of 5 that she needed to feed. Well, she was over by $12 and some change on fruits and vegetables. My mom offered to pay the difference. The cashier said, “no,” very abruptly, with a rude tone. My mother explained it’s not a big deal, and she would like to do this so the woman can have her fruits. Again, the cashier rudely said no. My mom asked if the unnamed shopper was a regular there and this has been an issue. Debbie, the cashier, said, “No, but she got her free stuff from WIC already, she doesn’t need anybody else paying her way.” My mother explained that’s very judgmental and we all need to show compassion. Debbie snapped back with, “well, that’s what ‘they’ do, they keep on having kids and getting handouts.” With the way she said it, it wasn’t clear whether she was referring to African Americans, people on assistance, or both. This woman left, humiliated, without her fruits and vegetables.

Debbie, the cashier, is a Caucasian female in probably her 60’s. So, I’m not sure which group of people she is referring to when she says “they,” but this was absolutely ridiculous. She may be classist, she may be racist. It’s hard to tell for sure and honestly, she may be both.

My mom and I agree that this is exactly what is wrong with the world. Where is the compassion and basic human decency? Everybody around was in shock when this occurred. My mom paid for her own groceries, and left the store. She called the store when she got home and spoke with the manager Ron. She thought he was nice, but he said he doesn’t have the autonomy to terminate her. I’m not sure how to feel about this specifically because it doesn’t seem like anything is going to be done. Something needs to be done. We can’t continue to let this happen in the US.

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In a statement, Albertsons said it is investigating the incident:

At Albertsons, we have a policy and a culture of treating our customers, and each other, with courtesy, dignity and respect. It’s at the core of who we are as a company and member of this community. We sincerely apologize that, in this incident, it appears we did not deliver the customer service that we pride ourselves on. While this isolated situation is still under investigation, we are taking this opportunity to remind all of our employees that each and every customer is a welcomed guest in our stores.

Debbie needs to hand in her cashier apron and get an attitude adjustment.