Sanctuary Supermarket

Think about those green, rectangular pieces of paper carried about in wallets and purses by Americans. Called greenbacks, moo-la, etc., these bills once were certificates representing ownership of a certain weight of precious metals. Now they are federal reserve notes, supposedly representing “the full faith and credit of the U.S. Government.”

Debating the abandonment of the gold standard which occurred under the Nixon administration is beyond this writer’s present purpose. That purpose is to point out that singles, fives, tens, twenties, and “C-notes” are DOCUMENTS, and to present the following hypothetical scenario.

Picture yourself in a busy food store. The once innovative but now common self checkout area is packed, so you go human; you wind up third place in a line, waiting for another person to scan and bag your groceries…

CASHIER – Thanks for shopping with us today. Your total is $21.47.

FIRST CUSTOMER – Bummer, I just realized that left my money at home!

CASHIER – No problem, we accept credit cards.

FIRST CUSTOMER – Those are home in my wallet also.

CASHIER, uneasily – Well, if you have your driver’s license we can accept your personal check.

FIRST CUSTOMER – I don’t have any checks either. But look, we are acquainted and you’ve seen me shopping here many times before. You know I’m a law abiding, tax paying American citizen and military veteran, can you trust me to return shortly to pay this small amount?

At this point while you, the person in front of you, and the few that have gathered behind you wait, the cashier calls the manager over. A heated discussion follows. The customer departs in frustration, another store worker is given the task of restocking his would be purchase, and the cashier begins the transaction of the person just in front of you…

CASHIER – Thanks for shopping with us today. Your total is $156.89

SECOND CUSTOMER – I don’t have any bills, credit cards, or checks either.

CASHIER, exasperated – Oh no, here we go again! I’ll call my manager.

SECOND CUSTOMER, smiling – Wait! Greenbacks, credit cards, and checks are all monetary documents, right?

CASHIER – Yes, that’s correct, but what’s your point?

SECOND CUSTOMER, smiling more broadly – Well, I’m just an UNDOCUMENTED purchaser! Why should I be treated differently from a documented purchaser? After all, we’re all human, documents are just pieces of paper or plastic. A privileged person like you should be more compassionate. Things are difficult in my home country, and at great risk I sneaked across the border into yours.

CASHIER, embarrassed – Of course you are right sir. I am ashamed that I behaved in such a hateful, racist, and xenophobic manner by insinuating that you should produce monetary documentation in order to take these goods out of the store. Even though you are a complete stranger to me personally and have entered my native country illegally, you are of course entitled to the benefit of these bags of groceries without question. We are a sanctuary supermarket. Go in peace.

YOU – hopefully get the point.


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