|Image from Twaites Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/thwaitesmarket/|
When I was a child, I was very conscious of being poor. We barely made it “pay check to pay check.” Often times we didn’t. One blatant sign of our situation was the fact that we couldn’t pay our grocery bill. In those days, there weren’t supermarkets. But I was a child, and wouldn’t have known about supermarkets. We didn’t have a car and wouldn’t have driven to a store. Our grocery store was Twaites Market. The family did all our shopping there.
Oftentimes during the week, I was sent to Twaites to buy something or other. Since we didn’t have the money, I had to tell Mr. Twaite to put it on our bill. “Charge it.” And when my mother got paid, she would pay up the bill. I found this humiliating. “Charge it,” was a public, verbal affirmation that we were poor and couldn’t afford to pay for the milk I was buying. I hated it but it was our way of life.
One day when I was playing with a new schoolmate, my mother asked me to go to Twaites to buy hamburg for supper. I was stuck. I couldn’t start whining and arguing with my mother about why I didn’t want to go to the store with my friend with me. My friend would instantly pick up that we didn’t have the money to pay for the hamburg. There was no way to save face. I went.
At the cash register, as predicted, my friend instantaneously picked up on my verbal admittance to not having any money. She heard me mumble, “charge it.”
With red face and embarrassed eyes I took my package of hamburg from Mr. Twaite and avoided looking at my friend. Once outside, I winced as she practically shouted, “Charge it! Charge it!”
“You are like a movie star in Macy’s, going through the store pointing out furs and jewelry and just saying, ‘Charge it, charge it!’” She was quite impressed.
Child as I was, I knew enough to keep my mouth shut.