I had first-hand evidence of why the recession occurred.

I used to shop at Food4Less, back when I spent all of my money on tuition, books and booze. It wasn’t the ideal place to shop, but it was cheap and pretty close to the dorms. One day, I was standing in the checkout line and I happened to meet the most uncouth people in existence.

They were a young couple, probably no older than 23 or 24. They had two small children – one was standing by his parents and was clearly under the age of five, while the other sat in the shopping cart and couldn’t have been more than 3. After a few minutes, being a good little boy became boring and the older child started pulling items off the impulse buy rack and throwing them on the ground. I remember working in retail, where you wish you could do or say something but your hands are tied. That was the look on the checkout person’s face. The mother gave a quick glance to her crotch-spawn and then turned away hastily so she wouldn’t have to punish the kid, or anything difficult or responsible like that.

Normally, I wouldn’t say anything because it’s none of my business how you raise your kid. But the look on the clerk’s face hit a spot with me, since I remember the feeling of helplessness and hopelessness that badly raised children give you. How many times did I wish another customer would say something? Too many times.

In a distracting move, the younger brother started crying, wanting to get out of the cart and make a mess too. The father handed the kid a rectangle-shaped toy and the mother shifted her weight, blocking the boy from my view.

“Hey, I think your kid is making a mess.” I said, with maybe a touch too strong of an inflection of annoyance in my tone. But I was rewarded when the clerk gave me a small smile.

The mom curled her lip at me, but said nothing back. She reached down and yanked the boy into her arms, dropping him into the cart with his brother. She made no move to clean up the candy the littered the floor. When the boy began to cry, she pulled her phone out of her pocket and handed it to him.

Her iPhone. The original iPhone. Remember, this was a few years ago, when the iPhone was brand new and sold out everywhere. And she handed this phone to a kid. This phone would have cost $499 or $599 depending on how many GB. In my shock I noted that the younger child had an iPhone as well. His father had handed it to him when he started to cry and both boys decided to use the phones as swords, crashing them against each other.

I think I was stunned into silence, but what came next had me biting my tongue. They proceeded to pay with food stamps. I’m not one to judge food stamps, since my family used them when I was a kid. But where in the hell do you get off getting not one, but two brand new iPhones and you still pay with food stamps. Either get your ass off the public dole and buy those Graham crackers with your own damn money, or have a crappy phone like I did because you clearly shouldn’t be able to afford the newest gadgets.

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